Red light cameras mostly catch illegal right turners

The in basket: Mary Bulmer says her neighbor told her his nephew recently got a ticket for making a legal right turn on a red light at an intersection in Bremerton equipped with one of the red light enforcement cameras. She’s heard a lot of people have been ticketed for right turns on red and wonders how that might effect her, particularly at Warren Avenue and Sheridan Road.
The out basket: That intersection is not one that has the red light cameras, but Mary is right that right turners who don’t stop properly before turning on a red light where there is a camera are getting tickets.
In fact, I was surprised to learn from Lt. Pete Fisher of the Bremerton police traffic division that improper right turns are far and away the most often cited infraction caught by the cameras.
The camera at 11th Street and Callow Avenue, for example, between April 7 and May 7, caught violations for which tickets were issued for 146 right turns against the light, 45 left turns and only five through traffic red light infractions.
At Sylvan and Wheaton ways during the same period, there were 57 right turns, 23 left turns and nine through traffic infractions.
Right turns on red remain legal at the camera intersections, but they have to be done correctly. Sgt. Wendy Davis of Pete’s division says that technically requires stopping before crossing the broad white stop bar. But the department is usually waiving a citation for those who cross the stop bar but come to a complete stop before entering the cross street. Exceptions are when the person doesn’t stop until well into the intersection, she said. That often happens when a driver sees the flash from the red light camera and realizes he or she has been captured in a violation.
They waive an infraction in about 10 percent of the times the cameras record a right turn done against the light, she said.
I was glad to hear about that measure of leniency, because I’ve come to realize I almost never stop at a stop sign or red light until I’m across the stop bar if cars ahead of me don’t stop me farther back. Check out Colleen Smidt’s comment below for another perspective on that.
On its face, Pete’s figures seemed to me to validate my belief that the cameras are preying on the turners who run the light, rather than those passing straight through and hence probably moving much faster. They present the only real accident hazard, I have said in the past.
What I forget, Pete told me, is pedestrians. A pedestrian can be badly injured or killed by even a slow moving car, and pedestrians can easily be hit by cars turning against a red light.
“When you see the video, you get a greater appreciation for the hazards these violators are creating for other motorists and pedestrians,” he said. “Both right and left-turn violators threaten pedestrians. We have seen pedestrians shaking their fists or otherwise reacting when there is a conflict.”
The cameras take a 12-second video of each violation as well as two still shots. Those ticketed can go online and see the shots of their violation, but other members of the public can’t.
I was also surprised to learn that no intersection can have more than two directions of travel monitored by the cameras. The law allowing them limits them to two per intersection, and each camera takes pictures of only one direction of travel. He didn’t know why, it’s just the way the law reads.
Also of interest is the fact that someone who ignores and nearly hits a pedestrian in the crosswalk after coming to a full stop behind the stop bar can’t be cited for that on the basis of the photos. They can lead to citations only for red light violations, regardless of whatever else they show, Pete said.

7 thoughts on “Red light cameras mostly catch illegal right turners

  1. I like the fact that the cameras are getting the illegal right on red turners. Put the cameras at every light!
    I’ve had 2 accidents in 32 years of driving and both were right on red turners who pulled out in front of me (one in a 40 mph zone and one in a 50 mph zone). I had no time to stop. They were both ticketed and their insurance paid.

  2. You have pull up past the white stop line going eastbound on Sylvan for a right turn to see past the trees planted on the NW corner of the intersection. I think the city needs to address that issue.

  3. I travel through (2) of the camera intersections everyday at least twice. At one of the intersections I make right hand turns coming and going under the camera’s supervision.
    The camera’s early introduction made me aware of how incorrectly I was performing right hand turns on red. After a couple of months now, I am in the habit of coming to a complete stop BEFORE the white line and then moving forward if I need to see. I am ticket-free so far.
    It’s not that difficult, people.
    I have also noticed that pedestrians are now able to cross these intersections without having to walk around cars stopped in the cross walk instead of at the white line.

  4. Interesting that they can only do two directions from the intersection. What look like cameras have been installed at Bethel and Lund in Port Orchard and it looks like they are pointing in all four directions. What’s up with that?

  5. I just received an infraction for turning right off of Warren Ave. onto 16th St. in Bremerton. The infraction shows I am stopped at the white line with brake lights and right turn signal on. There is a sign there now that I just noticed that says ; Stop on Red with an arrow. My problem with that sign is it is not a stop sign or a Do Not Turn Right sign and is the only one I know in Bremerton that is different than any other Do Not Turn on Red Light as Naval and 11 th St. indicate . It is also not located at or near the Traffic Lights above the road. I think this sign that is the Stop on Red is not conducive to a Traffic Sign to warrant such an action as to Stop completely . It is an illusive sign as to the meaning and intention of the sign . The sign also is not in the line of focus for Drivers to be aware as no one in their right mind is going to be looking to the sign off the side of the road when they are to be looking ahead at the Traffic light and the traffic and pedestrians instead.

  6. Really now, you mean to say they don’t catch REAL red-light runners most of the time? I’m SHOCKED that our \leaders\ would misrepresent these revenue generators to the public! Any statistics on rear-end collisions since the robocops went in? We should follow the example of freedom-loving Arizona Residents (in more than one example) and refuse to pay the tickets until it costs so much that the city has to remove the cameras.


  7. I still LOVE red light cameras. I think they are the best contributor to driving, and pedestrian safety in the last 25 years. I only wish we had some speed cameras, too. The average driver drives pushing the laws in the way he or she feels that they can get away with; the camera makes them feel that they can’t get away with as much! What I don’t understand is why someone feels that somehow they are an infringement on our rights? There is no \right\ to violate a traffic law just because you think there is no one watching.

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