And now, the rest of the story…
On the heels of my stunning red-light cam bust for turning right onto 39th off Southwest Trafficway, I contacted Kansas City Public Works spokesman Dennis Gagnon to get the skinny on some of the pricklier aspects of the controversial program.
In the case of my particular bust – which came as a bit of a surprise to me since rather than running the light, I merely turned right without coming to a full stop- "That is one of the few intersections that have multiple directions covered," Gagnon says. "It has three directions covered – we don’t have it covered from the west."
Too bad I wasn’t leaving Missy B’s and turning right onto the Trafficway from 39th.
"My guess us you didn’t stop," Gagnon says. "Did you roll around the corner?"
As a matter of fact…
However, I was not a mere victim of Big Brother’s uncaring camera and computer, Gagnon says.
"Are you aware that the folks in Phoenix don’t issue the tickets?" Gagnon asks. "It’s looked at by a Kansas City police officer. And you do have the option to take a day out of your life and discuss it with a judge, but my guess is when they look at the 12 second video, you’d probably lose."
That’s my guess, too, having instant replayed it a few times. So I’m sending in my 100 bucks.
Enough about me, what about the stuff the folks who don’t like the cams say is wrong with ’em?
For example, can the red light cams bust you for speed too, like the Phoenix folks told me?
"They do detect your speed but we don’t use that to write tickets," Gagnon says. "But the officer can look at that and see how fast you were going through the intersection. So if it shows you were going 40 mph and still going 40 after or even 45 – like the person tried to gun it and run through it – it gives the officer an indication of what the driver was thinking."
It typically takes about six months after a red light cam goes in for scofflaws to clean up their acts.
"That’s kinda what this is all about," Gagnon says. "Changing people’s behavior."
One of the cams on Bruce Watkins Drive has reduced red-lighting running "by close to 90 percent," Gagnon says.
As for the red light cam protestors who show up monthly at 39th & SW Trafficway…
"There’s people who protest all kinds of things in society," Gagnon muses. "That’s what’s great about a democracy."
Some red light cam vigilantes claim the manufacturer shortens the yellow light time to increase the kill rate and bring in more money.
No way, Gagnon says.
"No, the yellow times haven’t been doctored, they’re using the same formula at that intersection as all the other intersections in the city," Gagnon says. "In our city the vendor cannot touch the controls for the timing of yellow lights. All of our timings for yellow are based on a traffic formula. There is a minimum and a maximum and in between there are various times. So if somebody thinks people have been had by the red light company, it’s not true. And they get paid a flat rate, so there are no incentives."
Speaking of which, are the red light cams big money makers?
"There is some revenue there but not enough to make the argument that we should be in this for the revenue, but it’s all averaged out" Gagnon says. "It varies by location but the city has made enough revenue to honor the contract (with the red light cam manufacturer). There’s one location though that never has paid for itself. At 19th and Walnut. People wised up to that one almost immediately and that location has not covered its expense."
OK, back to me…
The reason I didn’t fully stop at the light was threefold; I would have had to jam on the brakes, the coast was totally clear and it would have hurt my mileage to completely stop then start back up for no real reason…
"Well, the officer might just have ticketed you because you get good gas mileage," Gagnon cracks.
Here’s my question; what would Raskolnikov have done?