Last week I ran a red light. I was tired. I thought it would stay yellow. I wanted to go home.
In short, I was stupid.
As I sailed through I saw the flash of a camera in the buildings in front of me.
Today I got a warning letter. I’m happy enough about that. Fine’s are expensive and, whilst nothing but a hobby that circumstances prevent me indulging in too much, I do like my motorcycle. Since I am still on P plates, any offense would have involved a suspension.
But objectively, and in the parlance of the internet, WTF?
As part of the roll out of the new safety cameras, the RTA is committed to educating the public and assisting people to comply with the requirements. Our strategy involves applying a short grace period before infringements are issued.
A grace period just in case people didn’t know that a red light means “stop”? If they struggled with that, I really don’t think they should be on the road. Or did they mean a short period so people could realise that “red means stop and we mean it for reals this time and in this place”? Given that running a red light is illegal, and highly dangerous, in all circumstances, why should there be a grace period for a given location that happens to gain a means of enforcement? The “grace period” strikes me as something that will merely be incorporated into behavior – after all, it’s widely believed that there is a 10% buffer above the speed limit (bar school zones), and the average speed by my reckoning on this 60 KPH stretch of road is 66 KPH – dropping to a perfect 40 in a school zone in school hours – so as a strategy it seems quite ineffective.
But I’ll be fair. The political backlash would be strong and virulent. There would be cries of Draconian punishments, and accusations of revenue raising. The RTA and the government obviously have found that a soft touch to ease in enforcement is the best political option. It worked for random breath testing.
But the wider implications are disheartening. This is a very long established traffic rule with very strong and obvious rationales and benefits, but it still struggles against the sense that bending and breaking the rules is an entitlement and the belief that unsafe driving is something other people do (preferably “hoons” of another ethnicity). Imagine what pressures are arranged against measures that, whilst justified, are not as established in law and harder to explain? Imagine what is arranged against the sense of entitlement for massively subsidised roads (both financially and otherwise), cheap petrol (compared to it’s true costs) and that scarce road space should be rationed by queueing (AKA congestion) rather than pricing?
And that’s before we get to privately appropriated rents, over allocated water entitlements, polluting, poorly directed film subsidies and so on.
How on earth does any policy ever get done?
And in a fair world, I’d be properly punished, if not banned from the road.