Tag Archives: red light camera

What triggers a red light camera infraction

The in basket: Dan Calnan read the recent Road Warrior column about a woman ticketed at one of Bremerton’s red light camera intersections after she followed a bus through a right turn and discovered the light had turned red just before her turn, which she hadn’t been able to see because the bus blocked her view.

Dan asked if she got the ticket for entering the intersection on red, not clearing the intersection while the light was red, or for blocking the intersection while the light was red.
The out basket: Lt. Pete Fisher of Bremerton police said the light has to be red prior to the vehicle crossing the broad white stop bar in entering the intersection for a ticket to be issued. That’s true of any traffic signal, right turn or otherwise.

I think staying in an intersection after the light is red and blocking cross traffic from proceeding is illegal, but the woman who got the ticket hadn’t done that, the red light cameras won’t support a ticket for that, and it wasn’t what Dan wanted to know, anyway.

Caught behind a bus at camera-enforced intersection

The in basket: Mary Watson writes, “In September, I was headed north on Wheaton Way and was attempting to turn left onto Sylvan Way. There were two buses ahead of me. I could not see the turn light so I took my cue to go from the bus ahead of me.

“I could not see the light until the bus was halfway into its turn and I was well past the white line of the crosswalk. I saw that the light was red and rather than reverse and go backwards, I quickly followed the bus through the light and drove home.

“A few weeks later, I got a ticket in the mail for $124 dollars for running a red light and was caught by the red light camera posted there. Because I did indeed go through a red light but not intentionally, I decided to admit it and go to a mitigation hearing.

“(At) the hearing, Commissioner Shane Seaman, after hearing my explanation, fined me $85 dollars. He even said ‘Oh, yeah, I have been behind those buses.’ I told him clearly that I could not see the light until it was too late and I was glad for the light delay so that I was not in danger of being hit by oncoming traffic.

“I don’t know what else I could have done. Was I supposed to stop and reverse once I saw it was a red light?
I have heard from a friend who told me that she knows of several people who have had this happen to them. The commissioner did not offer any suggestions and I was disappointed that he still fined me $85 dollars. Others who had committed similar offenses were fined $70 and $75 dollars.

“I am curious as to two things…why did I get fined more? And what else was I supposed to do? I honestly did not RUN the red light with intent. I had to take my cue from the bus until I could see the light and by the time I saw it – it was too late. So in the interest of safety I just proceeded through the intersection as quickly as I could.”

The out basket: This dilemma is not unique to red light camera intersections. Any time a driver is following a large vehicle that obscures the view beyond it, he or she can find that a traffic signal has turned red while the large vehicle was transiting the intersection.

I asked Lt. Pete Fisher of the Bremerton police what he would advise and his two-sentence response is essentially what I would recommend: “The best advice is to follow at a distance that allows you to see the light. Just assuming it’s green because a truck or bus is going through could result in a collision.”

It means leaving a larger gap than normal between you and the vehicle ahead.

A driver can get away with following at a normal distance at most signals, as the one-second delay on signal changes that Mary mentions will keep cross traffic from starting up quickly enough to risk a collision. And an officer would rarely be there to see it.

But enforcement at red light camera intersections is constant. If you know you’re coming to one and are behind a large vehicle, allow the extra distance.

When I watched several of these red light camera mitigation hearings a few years ago, the presiding official would reliably reduce the $124 fine for those appearing, but never nullified it completely. The reductions varied, and the official didn’t explain why, nor could I.

 

16th Street’s red light cameras now watch only through traffic

The in basket: Sandra Hill was unlucky enough to be among those cited for running the red light while turning right at the 16th Street entrance to Olympic College in Bremerton while that still was a violation.

Her experience serves as a window into what one can expect when so cited, and raises a question about the rules at that intersection now.

Sandra, like many others who have been cited, said that as she looked at the two still photos enclosed with the notice of violation mailed to her, it didn’t look like she had run the red .

“(One) picture shows my car with brake lights on and clearly stopped at the white line while the red light was on,” she said. “Then another photo shows my car turning the corner to go towards the college, while the light was still red.

“The sign at that corner said  ‘Stop On Red.’  It didn’t say ‘No Turn On Red.’

“Now, of course, I’m not sure if that photo stop sign is still working,” she added, “because the city has revamped the entrance to the college, and made a separate right turn lane with a Yield sign at the merge with 16th street.”

The out basket: I advised Sandra to go online or to the municipal court office and watch the video of her infraction. Brake lights mean only that the brakes have been applied, not that the car is stopped. The still photos can be misleading.

Sandra and the judge who heard her case decided the video showed that she had made a rolling stop through the light, and she was fined. As is normally the case when one goes to court and doesn’t try for a not guilty verdict, the amount of her fine was lowered from $124 to $86.

“The court gave me three months to pay it off,” she said. “If I had needed any longer, they have a collection company which has a representative right in the court building, and I could have made arrangements with them to have a longer pay-off time, but they would charge interest.

“By the time I paid the interest, it would have been like paying the whole fine. So, I bit the bullet and made three payments, and did without a few things,” she said.

The red light cameras remain at the 16th and Warren intersection, but the one that caught Sandra is only watching now for straight-through violations. The revised intersection has a Yield sign for right turns, so rolling rights are permitted if the driver yields to traffic that has the green light.

The camera watching northbound traffic there is working the same as before the intersection was changed, watching through traffic.

Unexpected red light camera flash worried driver

The in basket: Galen Danis, who I encountered during the recent Edible Gardens tour of Manette, said he was puzzled by something he saw early one morning in Bremerton.

He was turning from westbound 11th Street onto Callow Avenue about 4 a.m. when the red light camera that watches for violations on northbound Callow flashed. There was no car on Callow at the intersection to trigger the flash, he said.

He had a green light for his turn and the camera doesn’t react to cross traffic on 11th, but he sweated it for a few weeks wondering if a citation would arrive in the mail. But that never happened.

He also wonders what constitutes a full stop, required at a red light to make a right turn on red legal. If a driver stops at the stop bar, then edges forward for a better view of cross-traffic and doesn’t stop again before turning, is that a violation, he asked.

The out basket: Lt. Pete Fisher of Bremerton police said the system and its technicians run occasional checks, which will cause the strobes to flash. It’s a normal occurrence.

As to the second question,” Pete said, “stop means a complete cessation of movement.  If a car stops at the stop

bar and then creeps up to get a better view and then makes a right turn

on red, they would not be issued a citation as they originally stopped.”

If you stop behind the vehicle that is stopped at the stop bar and then

follow them through without stopping at the stop bar, that would be a

violation.”