Opinion

Red light cameras: Federal Way's ticket to safer intersections | Mirror editorial

Some residents oppose the red light enforcement cameras at two busy Federal Way intersections.

They fear invasion of privacy or "false positive" tickets. They deride the cameras for being government moneymakers.

What's wrong with making money off a driver's mistake? What's wrong with making drivers behave, not just for their own safety, but for the safety of others?

Driving is a privilege, and with privileges come responsibilities. Even an honest mistake that triggers the cameras could represent an honest mistake that causes a crash. Speaking of crashes, two arguments on that topic cancel each other out: Some studies say the cameras reduce crashes, while other studies say the cameras cause more rear-end crashes by drivers braking at yellow lights to avoid a ticket.

Regardless, the cameras make money. Federal Way earned almost $160,000 in three months. Red light violations have decreased since the cameras arrived at two intersections: Pacific Highway and S. 320th Street, and S. 348th Street and Enchanted Parkway. Those intersections averaged 77 violations per day during a monthlong test in September. By December, violations had dropped to about 25 per day.

Money generated from the cameras will benefit traffic safety and flow in Federal Way. Isn't that what we all want?

Drivers grow accustomed to routines, often letting down their guard on familiar turf. If a photo-enforced intersection causes drivers to tense up and pay closer attention, then that is another welcome side effect of these cameras.

To avoid hassles at photo-enforced intersections, including a $124 fine, follow this advice:

When the traffic light is red, stop at the white line.

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