|Red light, green light|
|Written by Liz Reich, Columnist|
|Tuesday, 11 November 2008 18:00|
Although I may deny it to my parents, my driving record argues otherwise - I have a need for speed. A combination of bad timing, bad luck and sheer stupidity have led to my collection of speeding tickets throughout the years, and almost as many stints in traffic safety school.
Since I currently drive a beast of a car that sometimes has third gear and sometimes has reverse despite its automatic transmission, I am no longer allowed the luxury of speeding. This is probably for the best seeing as the response elicited from me getting a ticket borders between psychotic and hysterical. I get quite upset when police officers accuse me of things, especially when they weren't kind enough to make their presence known.
Recently I have noticed a pattern emerging among popular intersections and roads in suburbia. Curious signs proclaim that these lights now have cameras which will incriminate me if I happen to drive through one of their red lights.
Major highways also have these cameras, especially in construction zones, and I'm sure they will proliferate over time in central Illinois as well.
I don't make it a habit to run red lights, but I'm sure I have before. In my opinion a yellow light means floor it and not to exercise caution. They are usually pretty long. I've never been caught for this infraction, but with these cameras popping up everywhere, I might want to pose for my close-up.
The stories are circulating from friends-of-friends about how they got busted by one of these cameras and had to pay $300. They received a lovely photo identifying their oblivious mug and their license plate. I knew there was a reason Illinois required two license plates.
The fact that Illinois has more tolls than any state would seem to disagree with the fact that the state is heavily in debt.
While there is probably a modicum of safety influencing the implementation of these cameras, there is another motive, and it isn't quite as noble. Money, and what better way to get it than catching people for going five over the limit?
I've never been one to crunch numbers but there is probably X amount of people injured by people blowing red lights each year. Although the cameras may prevent these accidents, their bright flash also causes Y amount of accidents from people slamming on their breaks to avoid a ticket. Toss in the variables from the margin of error and the resulting amount of time spent arguing against one of these tickets in vain, and we don't need math to tell us the cameras are doing as much harm as they are good.
The third principle of Newton's law stipulates that these new devices will not leave drivers going down without a fight, and thus the reaction: Photoblocker. The transparent spray boasts that it is invisible to the naked eye yet will make a license plate illegible when hit with the bright flash of these cameras.
This product, an apparent steal at $29.99, ensures that drivers will not be issued any unjust tickets according to their Web site where it is sold. They cite invasion of privacy and entrapment as defenses for their product's demand.
Naturally it sounds too good to be true, but dozens of news outlets have given the product attention regardless. Police have gone on air to dispute the claims but the changing legal status of the spray may be an even better marketing strategy.
In other news, this product recently became illegal in Illinois. Since the changing legality of Photoblocker in some states, the company boasts that their sales have nearly doubled, proving their product works. Police maintain that it is still illegal to tamper with plates in any way-or are they just angry they can't see them?
I haven't gotten one of these tickets (yet), but I have rear- ended someone as a result of another car blowing a red light. I was furious and it was my fault even though the SUV that nearly collided with three other cars was long gone.
I can't help but invoke some Clash lyrics to illustrate the theme of this column; I needed money 'cause I had none, I fought the law and the law won.
For now, my license plate will remain naked, at least until I can find someone in another state who owes me a favor.