Red-light roulette

A gamble: Will cameras at intersections bring sanity to Baltimore's thoughtless drivers?

May 27, 1999

WHEN listing obvious threats to life and civilization, one may include pit bulls, television, fast-food coffee -- and drivers who run red lights.

In the first three instances, remedies are at hand: One can buy a Chesapeake Bay retriever, unplug the TV or stock up on Lavazza.

But what of red-light runners? It's out of our hands -- unless we, too, have a tendency to push through yellow toward early shades of red.

It is a blessing, then, that surveillance cameras are busting those who believe racing to beat the light is a right and privilege.

Based on early reports, stopping for red may be only a memory from driver's ed: 5,000 or so Baltimore-area motorists have been photographed in flagrant disregard of safety and law since mid-February.

Red in Baltimore often means "FLOOR IT!" Observe how many accidents occur at intersections, the very points at which we have erected expensive traffic-control equipment to avoid collisions.

If one ignores the red light and hits another car or a pedestrian, the right words might be reckless and premeditated vehicular endangerment. Sometimes the speed employed by these red-light runners is feloniously high.

In some states where cameras are operating -- and already at some Maryland intersections -- the possibility of having your picture taken has had salubrious effect. Almost all of the miscreants spotted in Maryland so far have gotten a $75 ticket in the mail.

The fine may turn out to be too low to produce behavior modification. If so, how about a $300-hit?

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