A new form of taxes

Writing on an envelope - showing how I am unhappy - pointing to a postage stamp of an unhappy personI got hit with a red-light camera ticket.

A good thing is that the traffic violation does not go against my insurance record. A bad thing is that I can think of a million other things I could have spent that money on.

I realize that these cameras may prevent a few serious accidents. But truly drunk or impaired people who might run a red light probably aren’t thinking about red light cameras. (They will be when they get their notice in the mail.)

I also understand that local governments are hurting. Like almost everyone else, they are having a hard time making their income match their expenses. And collecting taxes this way is very cost-effective.

Currently, only 21 states and Washington DC have these cameras. I happen to be in one of the states that taxes their residents this way. Have you been taxed this way lately?

The photo, by the way, is of the envelope I mailed the check in to the civil authorities.

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7 Replies to “A new form of taxes”

  1. In California it’s not a state-wide program, but goes city by city. And some cities are now getting rid of their cameras because the cost of the program is not worth the revenue. I think there has also been some difficulty enforcing the program — if someone didn’t pay the ticket, the city wasn’t able to do anything about it. I don’t really know why or understand the details. 

    Interesting that you call it a tax rather than a penalty for wrong-doing. My niece got a ticket from one of the cameras. She was able to link to the video and see clearly that she did not completely stop at a red light. And like most of us, she was angry at getting caught, rather than contrite at doing the wrong thing and possibly endangering herself and others.

    1. You are right, Deb — I was wrong when I ran the red light. It was orange, as I recall. But it’s all too easy to blame the enforcer for the problem that I created.

      1. Orange?? LOL–was it the light between the two other colors, or at the top/left when you entered the intersection?
        Actually I saw online today that Houston has disabled them after a referendum against them which was thrown out in court.
        Then the city abandoned them, but not without a suit from the company profiting from their use.
        Also read where such firms altered the timing of the signals to maximize their take.
        And of course the jurisdictions get their funding.
        And certainly being charged in a “civil” case when actually the objective is to enforce criminal statues.
        In criminal cases, guilt must be established beyond reasonable doubt, rather than just preponderance of evidence.
        Now on the other hand, the systems of this world will do as it does–see Mt 17.25.
        I appreciate your owning the responsibility in it nonetheless

  2. ABC World News had an interesting story on this subject last week. (http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/accident-sends-car-airborne-caught-tape-16776151) One fact included was that the red light cameras HAVE reduced accidents due to red-light-running, but the “rear-enders” from people stopping suddenly at the lights have gone up.

    I had my own red light ticket three years ago in Austin (cop, not camera), and I have generally been very careful to slow down at yellow lights since then. Also, I’ve been much more observant of obvious red-light-runners. There are a lot of them out there. I kinda wish San Antonio did have the cameras — a couple of intersections in particular come to mind, near where I live. BTW, I think the ABC story pretty well refutes your tax perspective.

  3. Duncanville has a couple, and I got tickets from both. They are handled by an out-of-state company, and if you don’t pay, the penalties are collection and damage to your credit rather than damage to your driving record. It’s a strange system. Regardless, I am now very careful to stop at red lights before turning right, especially if there’s a sign indicating a camera (which is required in TX).

  4. These things are all over Germany and I’ve managed to avoid them for 7 years but finally got “blitzed” by one and got a speeding ticket in the mail with my beautiful mug printed right on the letter. The fine and points don’t seem to run so high here.

    1. Actually, it wasn’t at a light it was on the highway where some construction work was being done (for about half a kilometer) and the speed limit was knocked down.

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