Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

What an election year. It’s not just the drubbing dealt to many statist incumbents that warrants a little triumphalism. We can also cheer about ballot measures whose passage means the defeat of very specific attacks on the citizenry.

Several local referendums targeted all those ticket-triggering red-light cameras that have been popping up. The main purpose of the gotcha-gizmos seems to be lunging for the wallets of hapless motorists, not enhancing anybody’s safety.

Voters are rejecting this fancy tax on driving. In Houston, a group called Citizens Against Red Light Cameras pushed for a ballot question to chuck the cameras. Voters passed it, despite the apoplectic opposition of the city council and the company operating the cameras, American Traffic Solutions. Camera ordinances were also felled in two Ohio towns, Chillicothe and Heath, and in College Station, Texas. In Anaheim, California, 73 percent said Yes to banning red-light cameras.

It was a tougher battle in Mukilteo, Washington, where ATS tried to stop voters from deciding on the cameras. Citizen activist Tim Eyman, who also has a slew of successful tax-limitation initiatives under his belt, led the effort to combat that obstructionism, and the state supreme court ordered ATS to back off. The kill-the-cameras measure went on to pass by 70 percent.

It’s great whenever voters call a halt to political predation. By no method can they do so more directly and effectively than via the right of initiative and referendum.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Rollin L. says:

    Bravo, Paul, bravo! When I was younger (and more crazy) I spent ten years as a motorcycle courier in Los Angeles. I split traffic on the freeways for 200 miles a day, on average. That job reinforced what I had learned already in my years of driving/riding; traffic enforcement is little more than a revenue raising platform for state and local governments, as well as the insurance companies. It has little or nothing to do with safety. I went to traffic school so many times I have a Doctorate, not to mention spending a lot of time in traffic court seeing the machinery at work.


  2. Drik says:

    Like license fees, speeding tickets are a tax, on an unrepresented or poorly represented population. Safe drivers tend to drive safely. Dangerous drivers will drive unsafely, regardless of the speed limit. Make the speed too slow, and in addition to the occasional speeders, they will also motivate the texters, the eaters, and the makeup-putter-onners.

  3. Lobo says:

    Hello…I read your column daily and agree with you 99% of the time…but this issue has me a bit confused…I haven’t followed it, but get the impression you advocate allowing people to run red lights…as to being revenue producer…fine…if someone runs a red light…that is less I have to provide fo the loval government….they should pay…why do we have the laws…if you feel we should get rid of cameras…then we should get rid of the laws…if the cameras are abused…then we should get rid of the governament…the cameras are an efficient method of enforcing the law……..

  4. Andrew Terhune says:

    I’m as libertarian as the next guy, but my experience with red-light cameras has been good. We have a small number of intersections that had a large number of accidents caused by running red lights. Short of posting squad car at each one all day every day, the cameras are the only alternative. And, they work. Once people know that they’re there (and it’s not secret), all they are required to do is obey the age-old law that one stops at red lights for everyone’s safety.
    I am all for referenda, but I think the voters made poor and populist choices regarding red-light cameras.

  5. […] a citizen initiative petition campaign to get rid of the red light cameras in his town. There are many other such […]

  6. Dave says:

    I and my wife have wintered in Destin, FL for the past 13 years. Our experience is that FL drivers seem to be color blind when red is involved. One is hard pressed to not witness red light runners while driving anytime during the day or night. I have been STOPPED at a red light and as many as three cars run the light. Why I have not been rear ended for obeying traffic signals remains a myatery.
    Crashes as a result of running a red light are not uncommon in the area
    A couple years ago a woman was killed when a teen driver broadsided her at a traffic light.
    If red light cameras reduce red light running and possibly prevent deaths I say bring them on!

  7. […] It turns out, most voting Americans don’t want that, either. In every jurisdiction in the union where red-light cameras have been put up for a vote, they’ve been voted down. […]

  8. […] his spare time, Tim took on the red-light camera industry in his home town of Mukilteo, north of Seattle. He overcame the resistance of local officials to […]

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