The lady came into the City C l e r k ’s o f f i c e o b v i o u s l y upset, insisting that she had been a safe driver for over 20 years and there is no way she would have run a red light, even on a right turn. After calming down, a City staffer looked up her ticket on the internet and replayed the video of her incident. As she approached the intersection and the red light, she dutifully looked left and saw no cars coming. As we often do, without further thinking, she made a “California Stop”.
This is when a driver coasts around the corner on a right-on-red without coming to a full stop. The lady watched intently as the tape played and then, stape played. Unknown to her, just as she was rounding the corner, a pedestrian stepped off the corner almost directly into her path. The pedestrian quickly jumped back, but the lady never knew how close she had come to hitting the person. Shaken, she thanked the staff and asked for directions to the cashier’s office.
In the past 2 years, the Miami Gardens Red Light Camera Program has cut accidents at the camera intersection by 83%. This is a staggering number.
This means almost 200 fewer accidents. It means that there are 200 families where no one was killed or maimed, or at the very least, had to deal with all of the consequences of car insurance and repair.
No one likes to get a ticket, but it is a small price to pay for protecting yourself and your family. The law has always required a stop on red. We all know that, whether it’s a straight run-through or a right on red, RED MEANS STOP. For a right turn on red it means STOP, look to the left, to the right and back to the left. It’s a law we can LIVE with!
Dr. Crew, the city manager of Miami Gardens, wants to blame it all on the drivers. But pedestrians – and their parents – have a responsibility, too.
Red light cameras give pedestrians a false sense of safety, which can be dangerous, as demonstrated in the near- accident recounted by Dr. Crew. Perhaps because the cameras earn money for the city, Dr. Crew didn't mention that most car-pedestrian accidents wouldn't have happened except that the pedestrian stepped right in front of an oncoming car.
Were it possible for us to confine all pedestrians to only the more upscale neighborhoods in "nanny" states such as the US or England, the red light cameras found there could possibly make them safer. But pedestrians are not confined to camera-enforced intersections. So their parents have to tell them, early in life: "Look both ways before stepping off the curb."
Obviously, many pedestrians never were taught defensive walking, or have become too relaxed when out near traffic. Perhaps Dr. Crew could use some of the City's red light camera income to fund defensive walking classes at the local schools, YMCAs, and senior centers.