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Sunday, January 20 , 2019, 8:23 am | Fair 47º


Captain’s Log: Intersection Traffic Camera Scores One

It seems like most towns have those little traffic cameras mounted on traffic light posts of intersections. Most towns don’t even bother to send out tickets based upon images taken, because people for the most part know they apparently are not very enforceable, thereby rendering the ticket little more than a request to pay a fine.

That leaves us glancing at them and wondering why municipalities spend the large sums of money to purchase and install them and then maintain the supporting systems behind the scenes.

Why spend that money? Is it Big Brother watching us and monitoring our movements? Are those things even turned on?

They raise lots of questions and perhaps alarms. Few of us like cameras aimed at us while we go through our daily lives.

I heard the story of one camera that scored. I know a young person in another state who received an official-looking envelope from the local government. After letting it languish on the breakfast bar for a few days, he opened and read it. 

The form letter explained that a traffic camera at a certain intersection had taken a photo of him running a red light and instructed him to pay the fine, which was fairly substantial.

He laughed and set down the letter to reach for the TV remote but noticed that there was another folded piece of paper with the letter. He hesitated but went ahead and unfolded the printout of the photo taken by the traffic camera.

Sure enough, he could see that the front of his car was just out of the intersection at the time the photo was taken. He could not tell whether the photo was taken at the moment the light turned red, which may be one of the reasons why these tickets are so universally unenforceable.

He recognized his car and looked up to see that the photo clearly showed his face, so there was no mistake that it was him.

His eyes went wide when he noticed that he was holding his cell phone up to his ear with his left hand and his right hand was busy holding a beer can, a Budweiser, to be precise. No telling what he was steering the car with!

He roared with laughter and then shook his head at himself while looking at that photo, and even though the ticket was only for running the red light and probably unenforceable, he went right for his checkbook and wrote the check, figuring he could scrimp on groceries and beer for a month to make up for it.

His comment was, “Heck, I figured I owed somebody — and maybe everybody — for that reckless moment, so I paid up.” That camera scored and even taught a citizen a lesson.

Was justice served? You be the judge!

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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