We have all seen the red light cameras that sit atop street lights in Baton Rouge. Like vigilant watchdogs, they catch hurried drivers who just miss the yellow light. With the red light, however, comes the snapping of the camera's shutter. Soon after, the driver comes home to a ticket in the mail.
For those who have gotten a ticket from the red light cameras, their existence may be aggravating. Their purpose, however, is to help prevent people from trying to make it through a light that is about to change. It's no secret that running red lights is a common cause of serious car accidents. Fortunately, the Metro Council voted last week to keep them in place with a few changes.
The main change the council and local police hope to implement is harsher penalties for failing to pay a ticket from the red light cameras. Until now, there has been little punishment for not paying a ticket. A letter in the mail was the only penalty red-light runners faced. Now, however, the city is considering other methods of making drivers pay up, including booting ticketed drivers' cars and having collection agencies help track down people who haven't paid their fine.
While some have argued in favor of getting rid of red light cameras, emergency officials fought for them, saying that the cameras have a better view of whether drivers are running a red light than police often do. Even more importantly, there have been fewer crashes in Baton Rouge because of the cameras.
Thankfully our Metro Council members recognized the importance of preventing drivers from running red lights. Hopefully harsher penalties for failing to pay fines will even further reduce the number of car accidents we see in Baton Rouge.
Source: The Times-Picayune, "Baton Rouge's red light camera program will be extended, more enforcement planned," Diana Samuels, Oct. 9, 2013