Red-light cameras help keep motorists and pedestrians...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 21, 2000

Red-light cameras help keep motorists and pedestrians safe

A lawyer is suing to make our city less safe for motorists and pedestrians. I refer to the barrister, Imad Dijani, who was ticketed and fined as a result of running a city red light and being caught on camera ("Lawsuit targets red-light cameras," March 14).

Apparently, he would like to be free to disregard public safety and hurtle through red lights whenever he chooses.

I am a city resident and find that the cameras at critical intersections have markedly improved the driving habits of my fellow citizens -- at least at these intersections, as the accident statistics show.

If the cameras force people to drive more safely, auto insurance rates will fall, health care expenditures will go down, road rage will be reduced and certainly some tragic accidents will be avoided.

Policing is necessary for public safety, the general welfare and the common good; a human police officer cannot be at every intersection, especially with the current shortage of officers.

We need more cameras at intersections, not less.

Robert T. Kambic

Baltimore

I knew it. Some lawyer is suing over Maryland's red-light camera law.

He claims it doesn't give him a chance to defend himself.

But the point is that the photos, which show one's car in the intersection as you run the red light, are not merely an accusation -- they are proof.

I know. I have received one -- and there I was, caught fair and square.

I am really disturbed by our tendency, from the president on down, to stonewall when caught doing wrong.

The papers are full of people blustering that they are, in effect, incapable of being wrong in any way.

It takes character to admit one is wrong and to face the consequences.

Is this, too, a victim of the me-at-any-cost attitude in fashion today?

Michael Kernan

Baltimore

Surveillance cameras are an unjust way to raise money

Bravo to Imad Dajani for pointing out that the use of cameras at intersections is un-American, and for filing a federal lawsuit against this practice ("Lawsuit targets red light cameras," March 14).

In some places in Europe, one can receive a bill in the mail for doing something that no one saw or accused you of doing. You then pay up -- or else.

One hopes we are not heading in that direction.

As my husband and I entered an intersection near the new stadium on Jan. 8, the light changed to orange and a flash went off. We soon received a bill for $75 for going through a red light.

The light was orange for less than a second, which is not enough time for safe braking.

Split-second warnings at intersections with flash cameras may be a way for the city to make money, but it is unjust and dishonest to take advantage of people who cannot afford the time to protest, not to mention the $75.

The problem of red-light runners is not addressed by attacking legitimate drivers and denying them their constitutional rights. This is 100 percent un-American.

The city is obliged to take these cameras down and reimburse the appropriate people, or be faced with a costly and just lawsuit.

Elizabeth Ward Nottrodt

Baltimore

How best to cut congestion: by building more roads . . .

The recent column by Michael Replogle and Scott Spencer of the Environmental Defense Fund "Helping drivers buy relief from traffic woes," (Opinion Commentary, March 13) contained some worthwhile observations and some nonsensical ones.

Its thrust was that traffic congestion in Baltimore is getting worse (which is true), that we cannot build our way out of it (partially true), that wider use of transit incentives and high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes will help (also true) and that road expansion will not help (untrue).

Of course, greater use of public transit will help improve mobility as will construction of new HOT lanes -- although conversion of existing lanes to HOT use has failed wherever it has been attempted.

But the reason we have increasing traffic congestion is simple: Over the past 30 years, U.S. population has increased 30 percent, the number of licensed vehicles has increased 87 percent and vehicle-miles traveled have increased 130 percent; but new highway mileage has increased only five percent.

What's surprising is that congestion is not worse.

Metro areas with the smallest increases in congestion have expanded highway mileage at twice the rate of those with the largest congestion increases.

Roads account for more than 95 percent of people's travel and most of the movement of goods.

Clearly the expansion and improvement of roads is an excellent way to reduce congestion and traffic fatalities.

Jack Kinstlinger

Baltimore

The writer is chairman of Marylanders for Efficient and Safe Highways, a highway advocacy group.

. . . or by limiting growth of our population?

The column "Helping drivers buy relief from traffic woes" (March 13) argued that "we can no more build our way out of congestion than we can solve a weight problem by buying larger pants."

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