Got a notebook handy? Here’s a neat way to make money if you’re a local government. First, charge people for breaking the law. Second, make it next to impossible to avoid breaking that law. That’s what’s happening with traffic lights around the country.
Used to be that the yellow light the one that means “slow down unless you’re already crossing the intersection anyway” lasted for about five seconds. But in 1985 that began to change, with the span of the yellow light often being snipped to just 3 seconds or so. This trend accelerated as cameras began to be used more and more often to catch naughty drivers. These cameras are posted at intersections and snap instant mug shots of any driver who happens to cross a red light. The driver is then fined automatically.
Well, it seems that local governments have figured out that the fewer seconds the yellow light is allowed to shine, the more likely it is that people will run the red light. Which in turn increases the number of automatic fines you can collect. So over the years, more and more municipalities have been truncating the yellow light cycle. Critics claim they are doing so intentionally, to boost revenue. The additional revenue can run into the millions. And that sure helps fund municipal budgets.
Just one problem: Making intersections more dangerous in order to get more revenue defeats the whole purpose of traffic rules. Governments shouldn’t be rigging things so drivers run red lights, just so the bureaucrats can avoid red ink.
This is Common Sense.Â I’m Paul Jacob.