Right Light Cameras and Right Handed Turns


Bremerton’s red light cameras have been busy snapping photos of motorists cruising a little too late through the city’s intersections.

The police department had written about 1,846 violations as of a May 21 article in The Olympian of Olympic College. At $124 a pop, that adds up to a lot of money in a short span.

Of course, safety is the primary goal of this whole project, right? If that’s the case, those numbers should come down as drivers learn their lessons. But there’s one way these cameras may be exposing an ignorance — one motorists will be paying for.

A recent story in the Los Angeles Times asked this question: are traffic cameras for revenue or safety?

They looked specifically at the right hand turn infraction, which cameras are clicking away at. Here’s part of their story:

“One of the most powerful selling points for photo enforcement systems, which now monitor 175 intersections in Los Angeles County and hundreds more across the United States, has been the promise of reducing collisions caused by drivers barreling through red lights.

But it is the right-turn infraction — a frequently misunderstood and less pressing safety concern — that drives tickets and revenue in the nation’s second-biggest city and at least half a dozen others across the county.”

Here’s an example in Bremerton: The right turn at 16th and Warren. It goes into Olympic College (so one would think younger drivers will be using this turn more frequently). If you make a “California stop,” and just roll it, you’ll probably get a ticket.

On one hand, the Times’ point is well taken — do the right turn “runners” produce the dangerous results that those who blow through the general intersection do?

On the other hand, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been stopped for rolling a stop sign — and I knew I was in the wrong. A red light is tantamount to a stop sign.

Then again, perhaps motorists will realize this with enough tickets doled out. Dallas, Texas recently pulled their cameras due to lack of revenue. They too, no doubt, had right-on-red cameras. Perhaps we’ll all catch on eventually, too.

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