Civilian-enforced traffic laws

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Qaanol
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Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Qaanol » Fri Sep 26, 2014 11:54 pm UTC

Let’s talk about how civilian-enforced traffic laws can be made to work. As in, “we are all traffic cops”.

The benefits should be clear: since everyone can enforce the law, violations will almost never go unnoticed. There are few disincentives as strong as “you can’t possibly get away with it”. And with any luck, guaranteed-enforcement should provide strong impetus to get rid of the stupid traffic laws and implement good ones. But I don’t want to talk about why, so much as how.

For starters, I think that the person or people who report/enforce a violation, should get a substantial cut of the fine the violator pays. Maybe half of it. Alongside that of course there need to be significant, probably criminal, penalties for attempting a false report.

But the big question revolves around the actual implementation. You see someone run a red light, what do you do? My gut says that it’s probably a bad idea to have everyone trying to pull each other over and interact face-to-face like a traffic cop would. And as much fun as it would be to have roof-mounted paintball guns with miniature tracking beacons in the paint, that’s not likely to fly either.

So perhaps dashcams are the way to go. When you see a violation, you send the video clip to the traffic office—or Siri/Cortana does it for you—and the city/state government does the actual collections part. There could be issues about fining the vehicle owner versus the driver, but I’m kind of okay with that—owners can get people who borrow their cars to sign a contract to pay any fines incurred.

What are the other necessary ingredients for this to work?
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WilliamLehnsherr
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby WilliamLehnsherr » Sat Sep 27, 2014 12:36 am UTC

If this were a thing, I'd have lost my licence years ago.

This whole concept makes me really uncomfortable. I'm pretty paranoid, so the idea that everyone might be watching me and waiting for me to make a mistake would stress me out (and probably cause me to drive even worse than I usually do). I'm not against dashboard cams, but the idea of people handing the footage into police for minor offenses and getting compensation for it just doesn't sit well with me. Especially the part where they get a cut of the fine.

Granted, there have been a lot of times when I have wished I was a cop in an unmarked car so I could pull over someone who was annoying me.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Qaanol » Sat Sep 27, 2014 1:36 am UTC

WilliamLehnsherr wrote:If this were a thing, I'd have lost my licence years ago.

This whole concept makes me really uncomfortable. I'm pretty paranoid, so the idea that everyone might be watching me and waiting for me to make a mistake would stress me out (and probably cause me to drive even worse than I usually do). I'm not against dashboard cams, but the idea of people handing the footage into police for minor offenses and getting compensation for it just doesn't sit well with me. Especially the part where they get a cut of the fine.

Granted, there have been a lot of times when I have wished I was a cop in an unmarked car so I could pull over someone who was annoying me.

So, even though I know you probably didn’t mean it like this, I just can’t help but read this as “The thing I like about traffic laws is that they are almost never enforced.”

Like I said, one of the outcomes I’d hope / expect to see is a vast overhaul of traffic laws where all the nitpicky things that don’t actually affect safety simply stop being illegal. For example, rolling through stop signs: as long as you wait your turn and don’t cause an actual problem, it should totally be legal (but zipping through at full speed without slowing is still totally unsafe and ought to remain against the rules).

What I’d really like to see is a “reputation” system where people can “vote” drivers up or down, and maybe a heads-up display lets you see the ratings (perhaps by color-coding) of the drivers around you. No idea how to actually implement this though.
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Cleverbeans
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Cleverbeans » Sat Sep 27, 2014 2:50 am UTC

I envision racists harassing minorities until the homicide rate becomes catastrophic. I can't even envision a scenario where this could plausibly work.
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby billy joule » Sat Sep 27, 2014 3:29 am UTC

Qaanol wrote:Like I said, one of the outcomes I’d hope / expect to see is a vast overhaul of traffic laws where all the nitpicky things that don’t actually affect safety simply stop being illegal. For example, rolling through stop signs: as long as you wait your turn and don’t cause an actual problem, it should totally be legal (but zipping through at full speed without slowing is still totally unsafe and ought to remain against the rules).


If an intersection can be safely passed through without stopping then it should have a give way sign not a stop sign. Write to your local authority and have them review the intersection.
Reaction times and stopping distances vary, stop signs account for this.

As for submitting gopro footage, I think it's way too easy to abuse it via editing your video ie doctor plate numbers etc
Same with a voting system - people can just vote for people they don't like. Many drivers don't know the road rules themselves (IME) so are hardly in a position to evaluate others...

I think more stationary cameras is a better idea, if you see something the recognition SW might not get, you call or text in with a time and a location to get it reviewed.
You get a confirmation text when you correctly identify violations.

WilliamLehnsherr wrote:If this were a thing, I'd have lost my licence years ago.


Well, I guess knowing you're a bad driver could be the first step to getting better..

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby WilliamLehnsherr » Sat Sep 27, 2014 3:39 am UTC

I fear people didn't see the tongue in my cheek when I spoke of my driving...

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Derek » Sat Sep 27, 2014 4:40 am UTC

If such a thing were ever implemented traffic laws would obviously have to change, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Right now traffic laws are nowhere near to reflecting reality, and this system works only because cops (mostly) only choose to enforce egregious violations. If anyone could report a traffic violation, and especially if they get a cut for it, then every person going 60 in a 55 would receive a ticket. But having sane traffic laws that can actually be enforced consistently without being a public nuisance would itself be nice.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby elasto » Sat Sep 27, 2014 5:15 am UTC

Part of the problem there is that traffic laws can only ever be an approximation - and a conservative one at that.

The 'true' law is very simple: 'Drive safely'

The actual laws have to generalize for a range of driving skills (boy racers to geriatrics), a range of car capabilities (modern cars to decades-old ones), a range of weather conditions (bright sunshine to nighttime rain) and so on.

Under certain conditions (eg icy fog) even the already conservative speed limits are hopelessly high.

One answer is to have variable speed limits such as certain UK roads have: The electronic speed limit signs will change depending on traffic density and weather conditions. Maybe some US roads have this feature also.

This may be something that will become easier to deal with once automatic cars which drive themselves arrive. There may be no need for a 'legal speed limit' - instead the car will just automatically drive at the speed it needs to to remain within safety margins. It will not have the 'ego' a human driver has who thinks that driving 2 feet from the car in front is fine since they have such 'uber reflexes'.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby morriswalters » Sat Sep 27, 2014 12:53 pm UTC

It is within the realm of what currently is possible to have black boxes in cars with dash cams that can effectively monitor your driving and compliance to the law. The black boxes already exist, as do the cams. Th question to ask yourself is how good is your driving, not how good your estimation of it is? Are you sure you want this? I suspect the majority are comfortable with the current system.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Qaanol » Sat Sep 27, 2014 2:42 pm UTC

billy joule wrote:If an intersection can be safely passed through without stopping then it should have a give way sign not a stop sign. Write to your local authority and have them review the intersection.
Reaction times and stopping distances vary, stop signs account for this.

The safe, efficient, and therefore correct move at a stop sign is to slow down so that you can easily come to a complete stop if necessary, and when you are rolling up to the stop line and can clearly see whether it is your turn and safe to go, then either keep rolling through if it is or come to a full stop if not. Pretty much everyone knows this and pretty much everyone already does this. The problem is that it is technically against the rules.

You are free to disagree, this is just one example that came to mind. The larger point is that there are many traffic laws which by the strict letter do not reflect the safest and most efficient course of action, and/or would be needlessly onerous if enforced every time. And the conclusion is that those laws need to change: shoddy enforcement is no excuse for leaving a bad law on the books. That is what leads to discriminatory prosecution.

So if nothing else, having civilian-enforced traffic laws would essentially eliminate shoddy enforcement, and thus call attention to those laws which should not be in place in their current form, and hence are ripe for abuse and selective enforcement as things stand. That alone is a huge benefit.

billy joule wrote:As for submitting gopro footage, I think it's way too easy to abuse it via editing your video ie doctor plate numbers etc

It might be easy to fool humans watching it, but you are greatly underestimating the difficulty of doctoring footage well enough to get past algorithms designed to detect it. So we can add that algorithm to the upload site. Also you’re ignoring the whole, you know, criminal prosecution for intentionally fraudulent video submissions.
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby elasto » Sat Sep 27, 2014 2:52 pm UTC

Qaanol wrote:It might be easy to fool humans watching it, but you are greatly underestimating the difficulty of doctoring footage well enough to get past algorithms designed to detect it. So we can add that algorithm to the upload site. Also you’re ignoring the whole, you know, criminal prosecution for intentionally fraudulent video submissions.

There's more than one way to troll using the law.

How easy would it be to doctor the footage and then spoof who uploaded it? Then no matter whether the algorithms spot it or not you get to have your fun...

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Soteria » Mon Sep 29, 2014 4:12 am UTC

Qaanol wrote:
billy joule wrote:If an intersection can be safely passed through without stopping then it should have a give way sign not a stop sign. Write to your local authority and have them review the intersection.
Reaction times and stopping distances vary, stop signs account for this.

The safe, efficient, and therefore correct move at a stop sign is to slow down so that you can easily come to a complete stop if necessary, and when you are rolling up to the stop line and can clearly see whether it is your turn and safe to go, then either keep rolling through if it is or come to a full stop if not. Pretty much everyone knows this and pretty much everyone already does this. The problem is that it is technically against the rules.


Maybe in California. Driving customs vary quite a bit--where I live the only time you'd roll straight through is if no one else is there. If there's another car, the way you establish that it is your turn to go is by being the first to come to a complete stop.

I'm mostly convinced that drivers have similar skill levels all over, but that custom varies wildly. A driver who aggressively merges into traffic would be considered a bad driver here--you're supposed to wait for someone to let you in. I've driven in other places where no one will ever let you in until you just take a spot. I've even been in places where the custom at a stop light at night is to slow down, honk your horn, and drive through.

Anyway, I definitely would not want to have any system in which civilians have a financial incentive to report purported infractions. Way too much incentive for abuse by busybodies or anyone with an axe to grind, and I think it would foster a toxic culture where everyone is watching everyone else, waiting for someone to step out of line and fearing getting reported for a perceived fault.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby nicklikesfire » Mon Sep 29, 2014 12:22 pm UTC

The first thing I thought of when I saw this title:

There Is a Traffic Cop Inside All Our Heads: He Must Be Destroyed


But maybe thats just because I do tend to exceed post speed limits occasionally. If we vastly overhauled the laws in place now, I'd be in favor of a better traffic enforcement system, but probably not anything that would be civilian enforced. I think that traffic cops are plenty bad enough now, and enforcement is pretty much random and very biased. Having civilians report violations would bring about a whole host of other problems.

Also, without reform, most people don't want better enforcement. Many toll roads use transponders now (fast pass, easy pass, sun pass, etc), and it would be trivial to issue tickets to people who drive through the toll system with an average speed that exceeds the posted limits. Tickets are not issued in this way.

I think we'll have self driving cars before we fix any of the above problems, and I think I'm okay with that.

Cleverbeans wrote:I envision racists harassing minorities until the homicide rate becomes catastrophic.


This seems to be how many police forces in the USA work now.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Sep 29, 2014 2:03 pm UTC

Qaanol wrote:
WilliamLehnsherr wrote:If this were a thing, I'd have lost my licence years ago.

This whole concept makes me really uncomfortable. I'm pretty paranoid, so the idea that everyone might be watching me and waiting for me to make a mistake would stress me out (and probably cause me to drive even worse than I usually do). I'm not against dashboard cams, but the idea of people handing the footage into police for minor offenses and getting compensation for it just doesn't sit well with me. Especially the part where they get a cut of the fine.

Granted, there have been a lot of times when I have wished I was a cop in an unmarked car so I could pull over someone who was annoying me.

So, even though I know you probably didn’t mean it like this, I just can’t help but read this as “The thing I like about traffic laws is that they are almost never enforced.”

Like I said, one of the outcomes I’d hope / expect to see is a vast overhaul of traffic laws where all the nitpicky things that don’t actually affect safety simply stop being illegal. For example, rolling through stop signs: as long as you wait your turn and don’t cause an actual problem, it should totally be legal (but zipping through at full speed without slowing is still totally unsafe and ought to remain against the rules).

What I’d really like to see is a “reputation” system where people can “vote” drivers up or down, and maybe a heads-up display lets you see the ratings (perhaps by color-coding) of the drivers around you. No idea how to actually implement this though.


Given how horribly bad many traffic laws are, weak enforcement may indeed be a virtue. It seems pretty clear that cameras, for instance, which are a remarkably impartial means of enforcement, still primarily exist to drive income, and can actually be a significant negative safety factor. I'm hoping for robut drivers myself. It seems likely to be a faster solution than fixing all of the drivers that are jerks. That latter problem is...immense.

Laws aren't the only way to solve a problem, of course. I note that drivers appear to be vastly more polite in areas of the country with adequate roadways, for instance. The heavier the traffic, the more it devolves into a giant mess. One could view consistant breaking of traffic laws in an area as a sign that something is very wrong with the highway system there.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby cphite » Mon Sep 29, 2014 4:00 pm UTC

Qaanol wrote:Let’s talk about how civilian-enforced traffic laws can be made to work. As in, “we are all traffic cops”.


Cue ominous music...

The benefits should be clear: since everyone can enforce the law, violations will almost never go unnoticed. There are few disincentives as strong as “you can’t possibly get away with it”. And with any luck, guaranteed-enforcement should provide strong impetus to get rid of the stupid traffic laws and implement good ones. But I don’t want to talk about why, so much as how.


In theory... it sounds terrible, and in practice will probably be worse. Think about it... are you going to pull over because a fellow citizen demands that you do? How is your fellow citizen even going to signal you to pull over? Are we going to install sirens and lights on citizens cars?

For starters, I think that the person or people who report/enforce a violation, should get a substantial cut of the fine the violator pays. Maybe half of it. Alongside that of course there need to be significant, probably criminal, penalties for attempting a false report.


So you're going to have hoards of people out there looking for literally any reason to pull you over at all times. Honestly, I think if this were in place the average driver would be hard-pressed to get across an average sized town without being pulled over multiple times for various infractions, real or imagined. Traffic would grind to a halt in high volume areas.

Add to this that everyone pulled over and cited in this manner has a right to go to court; which places an enormous additional burden on already overwhelmed traffic courts.

And how do you define a false report? Is a false report any time the accusing person happened to be wrong? Or do you have to prove intent to mislead? If so, how?

But the big question revolves around the actual implementation. You see someone run a red light, what do you do? My gut says that it’s probably a bad idea to have everyone trying to pull each other over and interact face-to-face like a traffic cop would. And as much fun as it would be to have roof-mounted paintball guns with miniature tracking beacons in the paint, that’s not likely to fly either.


Would you pull over because a total stranger in an unidentified vehicle told you to? I certainly wouldn't... hell, I won't pull over for an unmarked police car unless there are other people around. That's a more common than you might think way that people get robbed. Paintball guns, while potentially a load of fun, are more likely to cause accidents and violent altercations than actually be helpful.

So perhaps dashcams are the way to go. When you see a violation, you send the video clip to the traffic office—or Siri/Cortana does it for you—and the city/state government does the actual collections part. There could be issues about fining the vehicle owner versus the driver, but I’m kind of okay with that—owners can get people who borrow their cars to sign a contract to pay any fines incurred.


I suppose if you had a video clip showing clear, conclusive evidence it might work - for example, someone running a red light - but we already have traffic cams for that. Speeding would be very difficult to do... I suppose you could follow the person and demonstrate that you're pacing them at speed - but then you're also speeding.

What are the other necessary ingredients for this to work?


I think we should train people to do this, perhaps give them uniforms and marked cars that identify them as such...

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Nem » Mon Sep 29, 2014 5:35 pm UTC

cphite wrote:I suppose if you had a video clip showing clear, conclusive evidence it might work - for example, someone running a red light - but we already have traffic cams for that. Speeding would be very difficult to do... I suppose you could follow the person and demonstrate that you're pacing them at speed - but then you're also speeding.


If you can see them going between two fixed points, and know how long it took, then you've got their speed ^_^

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby cphite » Mon Sep 29, 2014 6:55 pm UTC

Nem wrote:
cphite wrote:I suppose if you had a video clip showing clear, conclusive evidence it might work - for example, someone running a red light - but we already have traffic cams for that. Speeding would be very difficult to do... I suppose you could follow the person and demonstrate that you're pacing them at speed - but then you're also speeding.


If you can see them going between two fixed points, and know how long it took, then you've got their speed ^_^


So you're going to sit and do the calculations in your car as people drive by? And you're willing to show up in court to show conclusively that your calculations were correct - where you were sitting, how you determined the distance, as well as prove that you haven't sped up the video, etc?

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby BattleMoose » Wed Oct 01, 2014 8:35 am UTC

So perhaps dashcams are the way to go. When you see a violation, you send the video clip to the traffic office—or Siri/Cortana does it for you—and the city/state government does the actual collections part. There could be issues about fining the vehicle owner versus the driver, but I’m kind of okay with that—owners can get people who borrow their cars to sign a contract to pay any fines incurred.


Having forward and rear facing video cameras is rapidly becoming standard practice for cyclists here in Australia. Even with video footage the police often don't follow up on transgressions. Video footage has also been successful in many cases.

The footage is usually submitted to police in the event of actual collisions or of reckless/negligent and dangerous driving. There is a lot of it submitted to youtube. Having footage of collisions has done a great deal to raise consciousness of the vulnerability of cyclists, especially as its often used in "The News" of motorists mindlessly driving into cyclists.

Cameras everywhere. Obey the road rules. This ain't no game. People die.

(I haven't installed cameras yet but I will. Got hit by a mindless car earlier this year, walked away from it but cameras are going on.)

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby mathmannix » Wed Oct 01, 2014 12:28 pm UTC

While I have also often in the past wanted to suddenly be an undercover cop when I see someone flagrantly speeding, running a stop sign, or whatnot, I am against the use of traffic cameras. I believe they are unconstitutional (obviously this only applies to the U.S.), in contradiction to the right of the accused to face their accuser, the so-called Confrontation Clause of the 6th Amendment. Extenuating circumstances do exist, and should be accounted for at the moment of alleged violation, which when performed by a reasonable human police officer, might result in a warning or no penalty at all, versus issuance of a ticket and adding of points to a driver's license.

Many cities employ cameras at traffic lights, and some places even issue speeding tickets automatically by camera. I believe these procedures are wrong, constitutionally and morally, and should be overturned, not expanded to all jurisdictions and to all traffic violations, e.g. expired parking meters, forgetting to turn on headlights when it rains, etc.

I also recall hearing about plans to install monitors in cars that will automatically determine if a vehicle is speeding. This is tyranny.
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Chen » Wed Oct 01, 2014 1:00 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:While I have also often in the past wanted to suddenly be an undercover cop when I see someone flagrantly speeding, running a stop sign, or whatnot, I am against the use of traffic cameras. I believe they are unconstitutional (obviously this only applies to the U.S.), in contradiction to the right of the accused to face their accuser, the so-called Confrontation Clause of the 6th Amendment. Extenuating circumstances do exist, and should be accounted for at the moment of alleged violation, which when performed by a reasonable human police officer, might result in a warning or no penalty at all, versus issuance of a ticket and adding of points to a driver's license.

Many cities employ cameras at traffic lights, and some places even issue speeding tickets automatically by camera. I believe these procedures are wrong, constitutionally and morally, and should be overturned, not expanded to all jurisdictions and to all traffic violations, e.g. expired parking meters, forgetting to turn on headlights when it rains, etc.

I also recall hearing about plans to install monitors in cars that will automatically determine if a vehicle is speeding. This is tyranny.


So would it be ok if they just hired more officers and they were more active in enforcing the laws? If the laws are too restrictive and/or punishing I'd think arguing to change the laws would be more reasonable than arguing to reduce the capability to enforce the laws. The latter situation just results in a mismatch between reality and what's on the books, which is just confusing for everyone.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby BattleMoose » Wed Oct 01, 2014 1:05 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:Many cities employ cameras at traffic lights, and some places even issue speeding tickets automatically by camera. I believe these procedures are wrong, constitutionally and morally,


In what way are they morally wrong?

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby mathmannix » Wed Oct 01, 2014 7:56 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:
mathmannix wrote:Many cities employ cameras at traffic lights, and some places even issue speeding tickets automatically by camera. I believe these procedures are wrong, constitutionally and morally,


In what way are they morally wrong?


OK, I realize this may be just an 'IMHO' thing. But I think it is morally wrong to put judgment in the power of an uncaring computerized system that only sees black and white, legal and illegal, with no regard to specific circumstances. (I suppose my alignment is primarily neutral good, but fortunately it usually overlaps with lawful good.) The ultimate purpose of the law should be to protect and serve, not to trap and punish.
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Oct 01, 2014 8:03 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:
BattleMoose wrote:
mathmannix wrote:Many cities employ cameras at traffic lights, and some places even issue speeding tickets automatically by camera. I believe these procedures are wrong, constitutionally and morally,


In what way are they morally wrong?


OK, I realize this may be just an 'IMHO' thing. But I think it is morally wrong to put judgment in the power of an uncaring computerized system that only sees black and white, legal and illegal, with no regard to specific circumstances. (I suppose my alignment is primarily neutral good, but fortunately it usually overlaps with lawful good.) The ultimate purpose of the law should be to protect and serve, not to trap and punish.


As opposed to an uncaring police officer that sees the same, and has the same ends?

I agree that the system is broken, but it has little to do with flesh and blood, caring, etc.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby morriswalters » Wed Oct 01, 2014 10:49 pm UTC

The system isn't broken. People are. Having self driving cars is no different than having having an automated system snitch on you. We have traffic laws because at the moment cars came into general use they were needed to remove chaos from the system. This conversation seems to be about a desire to remove laws that govern driving and the people we use to do so, in a misplaced belief that random people are better than the police and that people can be trustred. If people did as they are supposed to do, then traffic signs would be sufficient, in and of themselves, you wouldn't need any enforcement. But they won't. No one drives as good as they believe they do. Your diving skills aren't tested when everything goes as intended and most people don't practice the kind of skills that make better drivers when things do go wrong. IMHO.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Derek » Wed Oct 01, 2014 11:24 pm UTC

You know you can still challenge a speeding ticket from a traffic camera in court, right? Just because the tickets are sent out automatically doesn't mean the legal system has been removed.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby BattleMoose » Thu Oct 02, 2014 12:40 am UTC

Speeding is complicit in very many auto accidents. That kill and injure very many people every year. Catching and punishing those who speed does protect and serve.

And sure, placement of speeding camera can certainly be very dodgy at times. But then again you are a licensed driver, part of that license is the responsibility to adhere to all road rules. If you do not accept that responsibility, please give your license back.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby eSOANEM » Thu Oct 02, 2014 10:12 am UTC

It's not so much the speeding which causes most of the accidents. Accidents are caused when you have people travelling at speeds far from the average speed.

In the UK at least, the average speed on most roads is usually somewhere around 10% over the stated limit and so someone rigidly sticking to the limit is actually more likely to cause an accident than someone speeding along with everyone else.

If almost everyone sticks to the limits, then speeding is generally going to be dangerous.

Of course, you always get people travelling at vastly excessive speeds who are always dangerous.

So, whilst speeding is linked to many accidents, that doesn't necessarily mean that the speed is dangerous and, in some cases, when speed limits have been lowered (due to high numbers of accidents), accident rates rose.
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Azrael » Thu Oct 02, 2014 11:57 am UTC

mathmannix wrote:... I am against the use of traffic cameras. I believe they are unconstitutional (obviously this only applies to the U.S.), in contradiction to the right of the accused to face their accuser, the so-called Confrontation Clause of the 6th Amendment.

Right, and using security camera footage to prove that someone committed a crime with no eye witness is also unconstitutional?

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Breakfast » Thu Oct 02, 2014 11:59 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
mathmannix wrote:
BattleMoose wrote:
mathmannix wrote:Many cities employ cameras at traffic lights, and some places even issue speeding tickets automatically by camera. I believe these procedures are wrong, constitutionally and morally,


In what way are they morally wrong?


OK, I realize this may be just an 'IMHO' thing. But I think it is morally wrong to put judgment in the power of an uncaring computerized system that only sees black and white, legal and illegal, with no regard to specific circumstances. (I suppose my alignment is primarily neutral good, but fortunately it usually overlaps with lawful good.) The ultimate purpose of the law should be to protect and serve, not to trap and punish.


As opposed to an uncaring police officer that sees the same, and has the same ends?

I agree that the system is broken, but it has little to do with flesh and blood, caring, etc.

Derek wrote:You know you can still challenge a speeding ticket from a traffic camera in court, right? Just because the tickets are sent out automatically doesn't mean the legal system has been removed.

I'm not arguing for or against whether cameras are constitutionally wrong but I thought I'd share my experience with them.

Last winter the city I live in started to run low on salt to ice the street because it was our second worst winter on record and we weren't prepared. One morning I was driving to work. It was still dark and the streets were empty. I was coming up to a red light and when I put on my breaks my car hit some ice and slid right on through the intersection. One camera flash later and I had a $200 ticket. I wasn't able to challenge it because the video doesn't show ice; it just shows a car coasting through an intersection. Maybe I'm wrong but I feel that an officer at the scene would have understood and not issued a ticket after I had explained what had happened.

Speaking for civilian enforced traffic laws in general, if you're driving at night and one of your headlights goes out without your notice would people be able to ticket you? It's breaking a law in some places. Would you be ticketed by everyone that saw you? Who would be policing the civilian police to make sure each infraction in a certain time frame was only recorded once?

BattleMoose
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby BattleMoose » Thu Oct 02, 2014 12:10 pm UTC

Breakfast wrote: I wasn't able to challenge it because the video doesn't show ice; it just shows a car coasting through an intersection.


Who told you that you couldn't challenge it? I find this hard to believe.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Breakfast » Thu Oct 02, 2014 12:42 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:
Breakfast wrote: I wasn't able to challenge it because the video doesn't show ice; it just shows a car coasting through an intersection.


Who told you that you couldn't challenge it? I find this hard to believe.

Sorry, what I meant was that when I challenged it that was the result. From the video's perspective it was clear that there was just a car coasting through a red light. If I hadn't been the driver I probably wouldn't have believed my story if I had just seen the video and not been there.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Chen » Thu Oct 02, 2014 1:00 pm UTC

The video didn't show your brake lights being on?

Not really sure it should matter though. You didn't brake early enough to take into account the weather and you went through an intersection. Sure there was no real impact since no one was there, but if you could blame the ice in this case, why wouldn't you be able to blame it in a case where you DID hit someone else?

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Mutex » Thu Oct 02, 2014 1:18 pm UTC

Chen wrote:The video didn't show your brake lights being on?


Maybe the camera was positioned so you couldn't see the back of the car.

leady
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby leady » Thu Oct 02, 2014 1:25 pm UTC

Does it matter?

If you inadvertently commit a traffic violation due to poor driving then the law correctly doesn't care. Its your reasonability at all times.

morriswalters
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby morriswalters » Thu Oct 02, 2014 2:30 pm UTC

leady wrote:Does it matter?

If you inadvertently commit a traffic violation due to poor driving then the law correctly doesn't care. Its your reasonability at all times.
Responsibility?

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Derek » Thu Oct 02, 2014 3:40 pm UTC

Mutex wrote:
Chen wrote:The video didn't show your brake lights being on?


Maybe the camera was positioned so you couldn't see the back of the car.

I think the cameras are usually placed to watch traffic coming towards them, so this seems likely.

It shouldn't be hard to show that there was ice on the road that morning, you only need a weather report. However, as others have mentioned, it's your own responsibility to drive safely in inclement weather, and I don't think ice is considered a valid excuse to run a red light.

Breakfast
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Breakfast » Thu Oct 02, 2014 4:41 pm UTC

Derek wrote:
Mutex wrote:
Chen wrote:The video didn't show your brake lights being on?


Maybe the camera was positioned so you couldn't see the back of the car.

I think the cameras are usually placed to watch traffic coming towards them, so this seems likely.

It shouldn't be hard to show that there was ice on the road that morning, you only need a weather report. However, as others have mentioned, it's your own responsibility to drive safely in inclement weather, and I don't think ice is considered a valid excuse to run a red light.


Right, and I didn't intend to derail the discussion. To clear up some things, the camera did clearly show the back of my car and the break lights. I wasn't meaning to sound like I was complaining or not accepting my own responsibility. I was just providing a real life example that I didn't think was so cut and dry. A weather report doesn't show ice on a particular patch of road and an officer at the scene might have been a better judge than a camera. Regardless, I accepted the ticket and my inability to stop and paid the fine.

So, any thoughts on the second, and more relevant, part of my post?

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omgryebread
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby omgryebread » Thu Oct 02, 2014 6:20 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:I am against the use of traffic cameras. I believe they are unconstitutional (obviously this only applies to the U.S.), in contradiction to the right of the accused to face their accuser, the so-called Confrontation Clause of the 6th Amendment.
Aside from Azrael's objections that this would preclude the use of security cameras as well, you should probably take another look at the 6th Amendment.


6th Amendment of US Constitution wrote:In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.


Emphasis mine. In most states, red light violations are a civil offense, and therefore, not subject to the 6th Amendment.
avatar from Nononono by Lynn Okamoto.

Tyndmyr
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Oct 02, 2014 7:09 pm UTC

Plus, videos, photographs, etc are used even in criminal trials all the time as evidence. The accusor is not, obviously, the camera. The camera is merely the tool, it's not bringing charges.

Don't get me wrong, I quite dislike red light/speed cameras, but it's on practical grounds, not based on the 6th amendment. Something can be constitutional, and still a terrible idea.

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Gnomish8
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Gnomish8 » Fri Oct 03, 2014 3:56 pm UTC

Already have this where I live. Not invoked often, but effective.

http://blog.oregonlive.com/commuting/20 ... _in_f.html


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