Readers' Letters
by: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT Greg Harestad was caught making a right turn on red without stopping on Southwest Boones Ferry Road, and he admits he's turning more cautiously since. But Harestad, like many people across the nation, still doesn't like red-light cameras.

I'm 70 and have been driving since I was 18 with no moving violations on my record. There is a reason for that, which transcends good luck. It's because I observe all traffic laws, period (Photo finish(ed) or not?, July 21).

I don't text or talk on a cell phone while driving. I don't have a bunch of unruly children in the back seat distracting me. The only accident I ever had was 30 years ago when a drunk driving in the dark with no headlights hit me.

I also believe that all drivers over a certain age should be required to pass a road test yearly, as well as an eye test. If anything, enforcement is too lax.

John Marshall


Red-light cameras a moneymaking scheme

Let's be honest here: No municipality installed photo enforcement equipment to reduce infractions (Photo finish(ed) or not?, July 21).

Reduction of infractions was merely the public excuse given to justify installation. The real reason equipment was installed is because municipalities were convinced they could make money. And, at the same time, they were convinced they could save money by replacing police officers with electronics. But at what cost?

These photo enforcement devices only look for two or three things: vehicles speeding, vehicles running a red light, and sometimes vehicles that make improper turns without stopping. If trained observers (aka police officers) were left on the job in camera locations, they'd also be looking for other things no camera can catch. For example, intoxicated drivers, drivers exhibiting road rage, and drivers exhibiting diminished capacity to drive for other reasons.

Officers would also see pedestrians, skateboarders and bicyclists who are also traffic dangers based on their actions. And, they'd see other potential illegal activities not related to traffic that are within the range of their eyesight.

Imagine getting ready for work one morning only to find your car has been stolen out of your driveway. You call police and report the theft.

Two weeks later, to add insult to the injury of your loss, you receive a ticket in the mail for speeding or running a red light - in a car driven by a thief who knows he'll never get a ticket in the mail.

An officer in the same situation would likely catch the thief.

J. Alec West

Southeast Portland

Camera penalties not evenly applied

A very important point not covered is that the penalties are not applied evenly (Photo finish(ed) or not?, July 21). If a driver is in a company car and gets a photo radar or a red-light ticket, the ticket still has to be paid, but it does not go on the driver's driving record and therefore does not affect their insurance.

A driver in a company car (or a car registered somewhere other than (with) the driver) can get as many photo tickets as they get without losing their license and insurance. The rest of us not only have to pay the fine, but pay the higher insurance and risk a license suspension if we get too many.

Bottom line: the cameras are effective and make the city safer, but any law that is not evenly applied is a bad law.

Chris Schenk

Southwest Portland

Big Brother vs. traffic safety

We're of different minds about this issue in my household (Photo finish(ed) or not?, July 21).

My partner thinks that the red-light cameras are Big Brother government. I just figure, heck, don't run red lights and nobody will have your photograph.

Stephen Pickering

Southeast Portland

More cameras for safety

You are waiting for the walk signal at Southeast 39th and Powell Boulevard. Light turns green for you to cross from the south side to the north side of Powell.

Oh, wait - four cars turn left in front of you and one slips by behind you, all running the light that has turned stone cold red for them.

We need MORE red-light cameras. End of discussion.

Matthew Stiefvater


Longer yellow lights cut accidents

Let's see if I got this right: You run a red light on Monday the first of February, then by the end of March you get a photo and a ticket from an out-of-state company? Then you have to pay the fine that goes to the state's general fund, because it's your car, even when you loan it to your nephew and he lives in Arizona?

They did a study in a small town on the East Coast (using) two intersections with similar traffic. They put a camera up at one and just lengthened the yellow light by five or 10 seconds at the other.

Guess what?

The red-light running went down and the traffic accidents went down at the intersection (with longer yellow lights), and the camera did nothing to improve safety or red-light running.

They did find out that (red-light cameras) increase rear-end accidents though, so it was good for the local body shops.

Clarence Leacel Smith

Southeast Portland

Red light cameras save lives

This whole traffic camera debate is something that really annoys me - there really is no down side to cameras if people obey the traffic laws (Photo finish(ed) or not?, July 21).

It's less expensive for taxpayers than hiring police officers to give out tickets, it frees up the police to handle more urgent business, there is less chance of human error in punishing those who break the laws, it is accepted in many other parts of the world and - the most important reason - traffic cameras make people drive safer.

In my opinion, the people who are against traffic cameras are self-centered and more concerned with saving their own money than with saving other peoples' lives.

Lois Moss

Southeast Portland

Only violators oppose cameras

Same ol' story: Like pornography, prostitution, parolees and pawn shops, each may exist if it must, but NOT in my neighborhood.

I can't help but suspect that those who object to (red-light) cameras are those who devise the greatest need for them.

Joe McFeron

Southeast Portland

Red-light cameras are rigged

I vote to get rid of the cameras (Photo finish(ed) or not?, July 21). I was cited at Southeast 96th and Foster last year, which was how I learned of the camera being installed, then about two weeks later I was driving through again, telling my passenger how I'd been ticketed and I'd thought the yellow was very short.

As we approached the intersection at 40 mph the signal changed from green to yellow, I'd have had to slam on my brakes in order to comply with the signal, so I sped up. As we were approximately three feet from entering the intersection, the light yet to red. It hadn't remained yellow but perhaps a second and a half (two would be pushing it, seriously) and the lights flashed and my picture was taken again.

I just looked at my passenger in stunned silence. It was she who announced that it was rigged to go to red that fast when the sensors in the road detected a vehicle traveling too fast to comply, that it had gone too quickly.

Just the fact that the party who maintains and controls those cameras is a private company located in the Great Lakes region of the country, who has a clear incentive to jury-rig as many photos as possible, would be enough for me to question the decision to use them. It just smacks wrong to me.

Kyle J. Hanson

Southeast Portland

Welcome to Portland police state

It's great living in a police state (Photo finish(ed) or not?, July 21). We should be so lucky.

Red-light cameras are fantabulous. So why not have cameras for stop signs, exceeding the speed limit, smoking within 10 feet of a building entrance, talking on a cell phone, playing with the radio, daydreaming, littering, failure to use a turn signal, jaywalking, spitting your gum on the sidewalk and last but not least, failure to properly recycle.

We have before us a chance to lead the world in civil order and obedience the likes which could make China and even North Korea envious.

Geoff Rode

Southeast Portland

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