Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's all About Perspective...

Okay. I've had my fifteen minutes of fame, so to speak. Now let's get back to business....

There is something I wish people could understand when I write them a ticket for running a red light.

When I stop folks for running a red light, they almost always insist that the light was yellow when they went through. I think the reason folks believe this is because they see the limit line disappear under the their hood before the light changes, so they believe they were across the line.

The problem is that with many cars, when you see the line disappear, it is still about ten feet in front of your car. Depending on the size of your car, it could be a little less, or it could be a lot more.

For those who doubt me, as I'm sure some will, I want you to try a little experiment. Take your car to an empty part of a parking lot near you. Pull up to an object on the ground, like a line, a curb, something like that. Move your car up to where that object just disappears from your view behind your car hood. Don't cheat and crane your neck either. Sit just like you do when you're driving.

Now, get out and look at the line, curb, etc. See how far it is out in front of your car? That's how far you are behind the limit line when you can't see it anymore.

It's like one of the rules I've heard people use when they come to a stop light with a car in front of them. They stop so they can see the tires of the car in front of them. Well, if you can't see the tires on that car, it doesn't mean you've hit it right? It simply means you are closer than you intended. Same thing with a limit line. Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean you're across it.

I have to explain to drivers that I have a different perspective when I see them run the light. I am OUTSIDE their vehicle, and I can clearly see the car and the line. When the light changes, and they are behind the line trying to catch the light at the last second, I can see that they are clearly crossing the limit line against a red light.

The best possible way to avoid getting a red light ticket is not to argue the point after the fact, it's to stop when you see the yellow light instead of trying to make it. It'll take a minute out of your day to wait for the light to cycle, but it may just save you $461.


*Goddess* said...

The problem is that with many cars, when you see the line disappear, it is still about ten feet in front of your car.

That counts?! I thought we only had to clear the hood;)

Sabra said...

The rule here for yellow lights is "stop unless it isn't safe to stop." If more people were aware of that, I'd be able to stop a whole lot more often. I've had to take my foot off the brake and wound up in the crosswalk more often than I'd like to admit because that's what it took to not get rear-ended. (One reason I hate driving behind tall vehicles. I can't see the light change, and half the time they go through it.)

Jessica said...

At our local RCMP detachment they set up a camera to record how many people roll-stopped. I guess it was over 100 people in less than 3 hours. Great way to make the town some money!

I'm still surprised at how many people don't stop.

Triple Beeper said...

A red light violation in California is $461?!? I guess if that's how it was here, we wouldn't have 12 people proceeding through the "questionably green" phase of the light.

Also, I'm glad you like my "about me". If you love dispatch enough to communicate with them, we can be friends for sure. :)

Megs said...

it's so true. i think watching people run a red light is one of my biggest pet peeves... and i always sit there and hope, after seeing someone do it, that blinking lights and a siren are going to turn on and chase after them.

Officer "Smith" said...


I take issue with red light cameras, because it's usually difficult, if not impossible to determine who is driving the car. If you can't tell who's driving, who do you send the cite to?

Triple Beeper,

The fine amount means very little around here. People still do it. They just complain more when they get the ticket. Just like the $275 disabled parking ticket. Maybe if the fine was posted on a sign next to the light like I saw in Colorado, they'd take more notice, but I rather doubt it.


If you happen to pass through Smithville, your wish might just come true!

The Fargin Icehole said...

My favorites are the ones who say "I pay your salary! So do you guys have some contest for writing the most tickets?" How many of you have wanted to reply "Yep, just two more and I'm off to Hawaii!"

Sandra G. said...

Not only will stopping for a fresh ruby save you $$ in terms of a fine, you may also escape being broadsided by the next person jumping the fresh emerald.

To help with Jessica's comment - As for the red cameras - here in BC, Canada we send the ticket to the registered owner of the car, who is supposed to have authorized the person driving the vehicle to do so and takes responsibility for their driving actions.

If the r/o is willing to give up the name of the person driving the car at the time of the infraction then we ticket the driver, not the r/o.

Starchild said...

I just had a question, are most of the people you cite for running red lights completely behind the line for them to be in violation or do you count it if any of the car is on the line when the light is red?

I was just wondering, because if the line is 10 feet ahead of a car (give or take) when a person sees it disappear, at 30 mph they are still traveling 44 ft/second which means they should easily clear it in a second, so either these people are way behind the line, or running the light so close that after they think they've passed the line, the light turns red a fraction of a second later.

Officer "Smith" said...

The car must be completely behind the line when the light turns red. If ANY PART of the car is past the line when the signal cycles to red, they win that hand.

Marco said...

in Germany, it seems to be similar like in BC, Canada. Registered owner first and if it wasn't him and he doesn't give the name of the user (or can't 'remember' it) and it happens more than once, you are actually forced to have a 'log book' where you need to write down every time someone uses the car! And if you don't, there is a serious fine with the risk of loosing your license! Still ways arounds it (I heard ...), but it works pretty good in general.

But yeah, running red lights is very popular and I am still always amazed to see someone do it! One of the first things I learnt driving here 'if a light turns green, first check for cross traffic before driving!'.

Loren Pechtel said...

I have one problem with the requirement to give up the driver--what if the owner legitimately does not know? How, you ask? What about the parent of identical twins who have access to the car? I think the rule should be to identify those with access that look like the photo.

Also, the best fix for red light running is to set the yellow properly. While there are those who knowingly run reds the number of runners goes way down if the yellow isn't too short.