by Jennifer Martin
Anyone who hasn't been underneath a rock probably knows about the red light cameras that have been built at nearly every major Cleveland stoplight. Some of you unlucky ones may even have experienced this brave new technology. But maybe you didn't know it costs taxpayers $40 every time it goes off.
Now, I'm a pretty big advocate of safe driving. I think I'm the only person my age who actually got excited about the new "no texting while driving" laws that the state of Tennessee just made.
I nearly always go the speed limit, or only five miles over. No more than ten miles over for me.
And don't even get me started on drinking and driving - I get excited every time a Tennessee State Patrol radio jingle or TV commercial comes on. "Booze it and lose it" should be a nationwide policy!
Also, I love police officers. I really, really do. Yes, there are a few bad apples, but their job is to keep us safe - and the cops in town seem to do a pretty good job of it.
So I very much agree with the concept of the red light cameras. Nothing makes me angrier than seeing some jerk run a red light at a busy intersection. And I like the idea that it's so well known around town - people know the cameras are there! No way will they run the red light now.
But as much as I like this in theory - the libertarian side of me cringes at the thought of $40 an hour.
I personally witnessed something that made my tax dollars itch the other day on 25th St. A fire truck, a police car, and an ambulance were coming to take care of a small wreck at one of the medians near the interstate ramps. They had their lights on.
One emergency vehicle after the other passed through several red lights after the other. Every time they did, the cameras went off. I estimate that this is about $360 bucks. Three emergency vehicles. Three stoplights. Enough to pay my cable and utility bills.
Oy vey! I'm not about to calculate how much I think the red light cameras cost a year. But is it worth it? I mean, where did this red light camera trend start, anyway? Oh yes. Europe. Where socialism is taking its roots in traffic laws, health care, and even every day purchases. Along with our president's delightful reform policies, I can only smell disaster in the air.
I think with the extra money that Cleveland police stations apparently have, they could be spending it on things like new police cars. More police officers. Better salary for police officers. A stronger drug force.
If red light running was a real problem in Cleveland, I think there's nothing better than actually patrolling the areas where it's prevalent. But to me, this just wasn't the biggest priority that Cleveland had. I hope perhaps they can be taken down, or at least turned off.
Trust me - we really don't want to turn into Europe.