Habitual running of red lights and speeding through school zones is dangerous, no doubt. But if paying a traffic camera fine takes the place of traffic cops and judges, then the fines become just another sin tax. How many people really quit smoking because it cost too much?
And like other sin taxes, if people really quit running reds and speeding, or whatever the taxable sin might be, wouldn’t the tax revenue dry up? The City of Bellingham has budgeted continuing income from the cameras so they must be expecting the red light running and speeding to continue for at least the foreseeable future. So really, by not actually getting dangerous drivers off the road and merely deriving an income flow from them, isn’t the City just selling peoples safety to fill a budget line item?
People say that because these tickets will not be on your actual driving record, then you insurance rates won’t be effected by them. Insurance companies already look at several factors that aren’t dings on a person’s driving record such as age, sex, marital status, credit rating and distance to and from their job.
Parking tickets represent a relatively benign act while the acts caught by automated traffic cameras generally represent a dangerous situation. Call me a cynic, but I think that if a vehicle registered to me starts racking up red light camera tickets, my insurance company would find a way to cover their risk by increasing my premiums or canceling my policy.
I don’t want to blog I told you so, when somewhere down the line another life is taken at an intersection and we find the driver has a nice stack of red light fines on their “vehicles” record.