I am ultra-opposed to the red light cameras that are a presence in so many jurisdictions around the country.

They're supposedly touted as a way to improve passenger safety and reduce the number of T -bone accidents. But I think red light cameras are not really there for safety, they're there to make money. Local governments are using these cameras as a conspiracy against citizens as a form of taxation.

U.S. PIRG reports the cameras are installed by third party private companies that share the revenue from the cameras with local governments. I also read in USA Today  that the contracts the local government sign with these companies require that the length of the yellow light not be increased at any time for any reason.

The San Francisco Chronicle
reports California now is charging red light fines of $480! Why is it that high of a fine? Because California needs the money. A single camera in Oakland generates more than $3 million in revenue annually.

Whenever a bill comes from the California legislature that takes aim at red light cameras, the governor at that time vetoes the bill because the state is that hurting financially. California is clearing, after all expenses going to the private contractors, $80 million. Local communities are clearing $50 million.

Even worse, it is common practice that if citizen uproar causes a local government to discontinue use of the cameras, the taxpayers have to pony up huge dollars to essentially break the contract the government made to rip off its own citizens in the first place!

I read in The Houston Chronicle that the city did have the courage to turn their backs on the revenue and turn off the red light cameras, and then the city gets sued by the private operators! Now the city is going to pay them $5 million. 

Meanwhile, the state of 
Missouri can suspend your license after a red light ticket -- even if you aren't the driver of the car that's ticketed!

Data shows accidents actually rise in intersections with red light cameras. Crashes are up by about 12% in such intersections, according to a study by the Florida legislature.


Let's face it, if it really was about safety, the yellow lights would be longer. It's only about ripping you off as a citizen. Your elected leaders are in cahoots with private business, selling you down the river to score money. And that's just plain wrong.

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Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off. View More Articles

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