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Editorial: Red-light cams can help

Editorial: Red-light cams can help

This technology's intrusiveness outweighed by its usefulness

Cameras that photograph the license plates of cars that run red lights — producing fines for their owners — wouldn’t be necessary if only motorists did a better job obeying traffic laws and police did a better job enforcing them. But there are glaring shortcomings among both, so the devices — invasive though they may be — should be welcome. And not just in Amsterdam, which is considering letting a company install them at intersections throughout the city, but other cities in the state.

Motorists who run red lights not only endanger the safety and property of other motorists, they’re selfish. Because when one, two or more cars stretches a yellow to a red, it leaves less time for motorists going the other way to proceed legally. And when cops can’t be bothered to stake out an intersection at least once in awhile, they’re contributing to a quality-of-life problem.

Admittedly, the technology is limited in that it can’t determine who’s driving a car; thus an innocent car owner, who may have lent his or her car to a friend or relative, could get stuck with a fine he or she didn’t deserve. But it’s one more reason to exercise caution when letting others borrow the car, making sure they’re reminded to observe all traffic laws.

There’s another good incentive for municipalities to use red-light cameras: revenue. What municipality couldn’t use an extra hundred thousand or more in “found money”?

Lots of motorists decry the use of these and other “Big Brotherish” tools — to which politicians must reply, “obey the law and you’ll have nothing to fear.”

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