Will Tim Eyman Stop at Nothing?

Red-light cameras save lives. So why is Tim Eyman trying to kill them?


I think Tim just found the fastest way to lower the government's revenue. Fewer people == less revenue. Hooray, Tim!
Goldy, I hope you do a piece one of these days on this Paul Guppy character.

He annoys the hell out of me.
I hate speeding cameras, but even I can get behind red light cameras. There's no good reason to run a red light.

However the cities that put them in often make them tough to like - they will shorten yellows and issue citations for free right turns on red. The first is dangerous, the second slows traffic.
I have no love for Tim Eyman, but the IIHS study used as a basis for this article is pretty lousy. Good takedown (with further links if you're bored): http://blog.motorists.org/iihs-flawed-ti…

Furthermore, it's pretty clear that Eyman is far from being the only person who opposes red light cameras.
Perhaps Tim Eymanazi is an Armageddonist?
I was reading where, if the municipalities simply added 3-5 seconds more to the timing of the yellow lights, that cuts down on accidents as well. It seems that people will speed up when they see the green turn to yellow, but will stop if they simply see the yellow light.

Really, there are two subjects here: reducing traffic injury/fatalities and government revenue. Those two subjects should be separated completely. And it's not just Butthead Eyman who likes to keep them linked-- cities, counties & states do it all the time.
Why is Eyman jumping all over this issue with such vile attacks in spite of the public safety results? Because this is how he makes his living - getting issues on the ballot then writing twisted dialog to get the real issue off target. The issues are irrelevant - that's why the oil company's hire him. With Eyman,just consider the source.
Eyman doesn't care about you, me or our children; he only cares about getting something (anything) on the ballot so he can get backers to pay him to manipulate the dialog with untruths and misdirection. It is why the oil company's hire him!
Just consider the source and go the other direction.
So does the study only look at intersections with cameras? I'll bet it doesn't. Every time one of these comes out it's full of holes. Top that off, the vast majority of the money doesn't go to the city or county where they are installed. It goes to a private company who arbitrarily decides who actually broke the law. It is a serious scam.

I hate Eyman. But I hate red light cameras just as much. Speeding cameras even more although we don't have those in Wa to my knowledge. But better traffic management, light synchronization have produced equal results in safety. Those cities getting sold on red light cameras are getting sold a bill of goods.

HOWEVER, very bad intersections with a history of accidents and few options for traffic management can benefit provided they are well marked that they are camera intersections. I firmly believe this is the only case where they can come close to making sense. But you gotta get the money going to where it belongs and not some group that can keep lobbying cities to put them in needlessly. It's not mysterious fucking technology.
Bean @9,

You know what, instead of betting that study is full of holes, read the study for yourself.

You may not like red-light cameras, but multiple studies have shown that they increase awareness and change behavior.
Goldy: The study doesn't distinguish between intersections that have cameras and intersections that don't have cameras, writing this off to the notion that the existence of a few red light cameras causing people to behave themselves at all intersections. The study also makes no real effort to control for other factors affecting injury and fatality rates, and seems to ignore entirely that the overall fatality rate has dropped by a non-trivial amount from 1992 to 2008. On top of that, the sample size is tiny (these crashes only accounted for something like 2% of fatal accidents in 2009), with most cities having only a handful of such incidents in either period.

So, yes, it's full of holes.
is he now a lobbyist? i mean he does NOTHING for free, and the PDC lobbying laws are money laws...he should register don't you think?
@13: He supported them but was slightly frustrated?

Yeah, that's totally the same thing as what Eyman is proposing.
Lazy @13,

I don't enjoy paying my taxes either, but I support them nonetheless. So what's your point.

And FYI, I can tell you from personal experience, that this one $124 ticket has made me much more careful approaching intersections.
from theagitator.com, which has been all over the red-light camera kerfuffle:

Actually, the argument is that there’s good evidence showing that lengthening yellow times is a far better way to prevent intersection accidents than red light cameras. It’s more effective, and doesn’t come with the creepy surveillance state vibe. Somehow, that doesn’t seem as appealing a policy to city governments. Another reason we critics have impugned the motives of public officials is that several cities have been caught shortening yellow times at intersections after they’ve been outfitted with cameras. That would seem to be a pretty good indication of a government that values revenue more than safety.

There’s nothing in the IIHS study about how many lives would be saved if the cities surveyed had lengthened their yellows instead of installing cameras. And over at the National Motorists Association, James Baxter argues that study’s “lives saved” figures are also flawed.

@9 We do have speed cameras in Washington state. State law allows cities to pass laws to place them in school zones. There are at least two in Lynnwood (camera ticket capital of the northwest). I'm not sure if other cities have adopted them yet, but I know Bellevue was considering it at one point.
Actually, the presumption that red light cameras save lives is factually wrong.

I have covered this topic expensively (working as a transportation writer), and there is plenty of evidence that red light cameras cause more accidents, since people are so fearful of getting caught that they slam on their brakes, resulting in more rear end collisions.

Further, there have been numerous instances of municipalities tinkering with the rates at which the lights change and/or when the camera fires so as to garner more revenue.

In addition, many of the cameras are operated by private companies that get a percentage of every ticket issued. Conflict of interest much?

On top of all this, there is a larger, democratic argument to be made. Courts rarely, if ever, overturn tickets issued by a machine (red light camera, speed camera etc.). This, on the face of it, is wrong. Simply saying that "the machine is always right" drips of inherent injustice.

You want to stop people running red lights? How about getting the SPD out there actually patrolling, rather than kicking the Mexican piss out of compliant "suspects" or shooting half-deaf woodcarvers?

Traffic cameras are for lazy and greedy municipalities.
Red light cameras also add to the public perception that signals, signs, and gadgets are a replacement for being aware while you drive. Just because a light is green doesn't mean you should blindly pull through an intersection without looking. This is the beauty of the roundabout that another commenter was talking about. It isn't so much that you are forced to slow down. It's that you are required to know what is happening around you rather than waiting for some automatic signal to tell you that you are safe. There are some interesting studies that removing lights altogether improve both congestion and safety.
How embarrassing for The Stranger, the IIHS study is the most thoroughly debunked study available. Produced by the for-profit insurance companies that profit from the insurance rates that increase after you get a ticket. I find it ironic that the stranger puts so much faith in the insurance industry now, what about when the "greedy insurance industry" was poised to take of L&I? Was The Stranger a fan then? What has changed since then? If I were The Stranger I wouldn't let my hatred for Tim Eyman drive me to act like a foolish hypocrite.
How embarrassing for The Stranger, the IIHS study is the most thoroughly debunked study available. Produced by the for-profit insurance companies that profit from the insurance rates that increase after you get a ticket. I find it ironic that the stranger puts so much faith in the insurance industry now, what about when the "greedy insurance industry" was poised to take over L&I? Was The Stranger a fan then? What has changed since then? If I were The Stranger I wouldn't let my hatred for Tim Eyman drive me to act like a foolish hypocrite.
I can't believe you idiots are actually in favor of keeping red light camaras.....Big brother is watching.
My emailed response to his original inquiry:

From: Tim Eyman
Sent: Monday, February 21, 2011 6:37 PM
To: goldy@thestranger.com
Subject: RE: Red-light cameras

Hey David. Congrats by the way.

In response to the study, there's this (http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/33/3392…) and this (http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/33/3393…).

Clarify your role: one of 4 sponsors of the local initiatives in those cities, they are all all-volunteer efforts like the one we did in Mukilteo (71% of Mukilteo voters rejected the cameras in November). None of the campaigns are even asking for donations (it's a bit easier to do that when the number of signatures needed is 999 in Monroe, 2273 in Wenatchee, 2766 in Longview, and 3880 in Bellingham and we've got up to 6 months to collect them).

A little more background here (testimony before House committee, fast forward to 00:52:30 to 00:56:30 -- http://www.tvw.org/media/MediaPlayer.cfm…

Why this is a big deal: Automatic ticketing cameras are simply taxation-by-citation, just another way for government to pick the pockets of taxpayers. 15 states have banned these ticketing cameras altogether. In 15 cities, local citizens have forced a public vote with local initiatives and in all 15 instances, the voters rejected the cameras (with 60-80% margins). We firmly believe that citizens throughout Washington oppose this Big Brother, multi-million-dollar profit-making scheme. Tuesday's hearing follows last week's 4-day, 4-city, 4-initiative kick-off (they all offer the same policy: requiring voter approval, removing the profit motive by limiting fines to the least expensive parking ticket).

Bellingham on Tuesday: (Traffic camera opponents to seek Bellingham voter initiative http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2011/01/…)

Monroe on Wednesday: (Effort is on to put Monroe's cameras to vote http://heraldnet.com/article/20110126/NE… and http://www.komonews.com/news/local/11468…)

Longview on Thursday: (Longview protest http://tdn.com/news/local/article_ab7267… and

Wenatchee on Friday: (Challenge to red-light cameras http://www.wenatcheeworld.com/news/2011/…)

Great wrap-up story of all 4 initiatives on Saturday: (Red Light campaign http://www.q13fox.com/videobeta/59817732…).

In November, Mukilteo voters approved this same initiative with a whopping 71% vote. In Olympia, there are legislators pushing to rein in these obnoxious cameras (There's a feeling in city halls and in Olympia that if lawmakers don't, voters will. "If the Legislature does not act, there will be an initiative on the ballot," predicted Rep. Chris Hurst, a Democrat who represents parts of Pierce and King counties. http://www.thenewstribune.com/2011/01/07…). As the Everett Herald reported, in Lynnwood, the camera capitol of Washington, "Councilman Jim Smith calls the program 'a real Frankenstein.' He said the council never received specific accident data demonstrating why speed-zone cameras were necessary. With the city's budget woes, it can't do without the money it gets from the camera program, he said. 'We're now dependent on the photo red-light and school-zone money to keep our head above water,' he said." (http://www.heraldnet.com/article/2010061…). As reported by KING 5 TV, the city of Lynnwood now gets 10% of its general fund revenue from red-light cameras and speed cameras (http://www.king5.com/on-tv/Red-light-cam…). In that KING 5 story, Rep. Hurst says "cameras are the crack cocaine for cities - once they get hooked, they can't get off it."

Regards, Tim Eyman, ph: 425-493-9127, email: tim_eyman@comcast.net

-----Original Message-----
From: David Goldstein [mailto:goldy@thestranger.com]
Sent: Monday, February 21, 2011 2:20 PM
To: tim_eyman@comcast.net
Subject: Red-light cameras

Hi Tim,

I'm writing a piece on the red-light camera controversy for The Stranger, and wanted to give you the chance to comment.

I assume you are familiar with the IIHS study that shows red-light camera programs reducing the rate of fatal crashes at signaled intersections, from both red-light running and other causes.


So how do you respond to accusations that your anti-red-light measures will cost lives?

Also, could you clarify your role in the red-light measures in Bellingham, Monroe, Wenatchee and Longview? Are you a paid consultant? Are you compensated in some other way? Or is this a purely volunteer effort on your part in which you do not expect any financial remuneration?

I've got a 4PM deadline, so I'd appreciate a prompt response.

David Goldstein
The Stranger
206-323-7101 x3035
Red Light Cameras suck./

It doesn't do much for the perception of Seattle being a bunch of commies when the Stranger and many readers support fucking cop cameras.
Ya, I remember when that lady got taken out, I work for the tow company that responded to the call. But red light cameras are already proven to be merely an automatic revenue generator. The due process is removed from the equation, and instead we expose the way the municipal corporations actually function I.e., they, like any corporation, are there to make money. Like it's already been mentioned, longer yellows, not shorter surveilled ones, lead to less accidents. But driver attention is still the most important factor. I can't even tell you how many times every day I witness oblivious asinine behavior from other motorists almost causing accidents.
This is the first time I have ever agreed with an Eyman initiative. The penalty for being one tenth of a second past the too short yellow light is the same as clearly running a red light, yet the degree of danger between the two situations is huge. These cameras will take reasonable citizens and make them into virulent government haters - a great recruiting tool for the tea party or the Eugene anarchists.
Red light cameras aren't safety devices. They are revenue devices.

Some cities with them have manipulated the light sequencing to guarantee more tickets and mroe revenue. And more accidents have resulted.

The IHS study is unsound.
I hate Tim Eyman, but nowhere NEAR as much as I hate red light cameras. Everyone in here arguing in favor of camera surveillance powers for police and local governments should probably move to China.
@20: The flaw in your argument is that the camera tickets aren't issued as a moving violation, so the insurance companies don't find out about them anyway. There's no opportunity to raise rates, at least the way the system is run in WA.

Most studies on these things show that they decrease T-bone accidents but increase rear end collisions. They cause a net decrease in fatalities because T-bone accidents are the most deadly -- there's much less structure to protect you in that type of collision.

As mentioned earlier, roundabouts also avoid T-bone accidents but take up a lot more real estate.

This is not an easy issue. I think the main thing we have to do is prevent the traffic light timing being changed in order to generate more revenue from the cameras, e.g. with shorter yellows, because that would actually *reduce* safety.
To think that a red light camera can stop an accident is absurd. Find something more productive to write. For example, write about your personal dislike of this Eyman guy. Because that how your article reads anyway.
Although my evidence comes from personal experience instead of scientific case studies, I really don't think longer yellow lights will help the situation at all. I was in Utah recently and they had the longest yellows I have ever seen. Instead of cutting down on red light runners, I was blown away by how common it was for people to run the red lights. At most intersections, there were still cars crossing in front of me when my light turned green. Not every time, but it was definitely a majority of the time.

Maybe it's like the speed limit: everyone seems to go at least 5 over, no matter what speed is posted. If you raise the limit to what people currently drive, they'll simply increase their speed to 5 mph over the new limit. Just a thought.

Also, if you are against the cities using red light cameras as revenue generators, or "taxation-by-citation" as Mr. Eyman claims, maybe you should just STOP RUNNING RED LIGHTS! If you never run the light, you never have to pay the "tax." It's like magic!
It's been statistically proven that stop signs don't work either, let's do away with those too. Counterintuitive, yes, but true.
Derivative reporting based on IIHS press releases notwithstanding,


the conclusions of the study seem intended to support a foregone conclusion in favor of so-called red light cameras. In this case, the vague methods used by the IIHS perhaps indicate a statistical relationship rather than a cause-effect relationship.
Stop trying to sway the kiddies with your straw man arguments! Using a single study and interviewing a grieving person as the basis of attack? LAME.

Embarrassing article and an astounding lack of research for an article that appears to exist solely to bash Eyman for being Eyman. Like most of your readership, I think he sucks. But citing one questionable (at best) study and turning to a victim to strengthen your argument is hack journalism. You're better than this Stranger. I hope you are too, Goldy.
It's possible to concede that the only point of these cameras, or cops just writing more traffic tickets, or stiffer fines, for that matter, is only to generate revenue, yet show that they still save lives.

More Tickets, Fewer Accidents (PDF) is one study that tracked small towns in financial distress whose cops issued more tickets instead of warnings, and some Massachusetts towns that passed referendums allowing them to collect more money from traffic fines. Clearly, cynical moves to get more fines from drivers. But so what? Cynical or not, there were fewer crashes and there are people alive today as a direct result.

Fewer crashes and fewer traffic fatalities also has another side effect: it saves the taxpayer money. Emergency services, police coverage, accident cause investigation, cleaning up accidents, increased congestion around accident zones, taking bodies to the morgue... it all costs you money.

And the cool thing is you can cheat the red light tax and get away with it: drive the speed limit and you'll never have to worry about getting caught in a yellow to red light. Try it: it works.
@#29 IIHS is a National organization, the laws are different in different communities. I recognize that tickets don't affect your insurance in Washington but they do in most states. That's where their motivation comes from.
I am really disappointed that the stranger is taking the wrong side on this issue. The IIHS is run as a non-profit organization who's sole purpose is to benefit the 80 insurance agencies that fund it. This particular study has been debunked and this is embarrassing that it was cited here.

The red light cameras may or may not save lives but unfortunately the tea baggers have it right on this issue. The government is not put in place to mail people tickets automatically because it either thinks it will benefit public safety or the bottom line of the government.
@29 red-light camera tickets in don't get reported to insurance companies... in Washington.
Tickets in some other states are reported to insurance companies. The IIHS is a national organization and red-light cameras boost their funders' revenues.
It's possible that their study was poorly constructed due to ineptitude, but more likely that it's just intentionally misleading.
Goldy, I think your hatred for Eyman (I know, I can't stand him either) overpowered your logical mind. Red light camera is a cynical attempt by private corporations to muscle in the municipal revenues, at the monetary expense of both the municipality and the motorists, while robbing us all of our rights to privacy.

There are many ways to decrease fatalities, let's deploy them before we cede our money and liberty to these corporations.
Anti-red light = anti-authority for Seattle kiddies. Way to go! Screw the MAN! A camera catches somebody breaking a law and it's a bad thing? So the surveillance video footage that catches a guy smashing another dude down is....big brother! Wait, no, we like that video. The video that catches the cops bashing a dude to the ground is...big brother! Wait, we like that video. But the video footage that catches people clearly breaking a law (running a red light - and I know, I've gotten one and the footage is irrefutable, I ran the red light) is somehow anathema to Democracy in little Old Seattle? Even when the action can and does result the crippling and death of citizens? But that's the price for Democracy in Seattle eh? Sounds about right for the hipster liberal dipshits that occupy this festering cunthole of a city.
"But the video footage that catches people clearly breaking a law ... "

Yeah, except for the three friends I know who have all gotten tickets for "running" red lights, even though they were turning right from a green light.

They all took it to court. Judges' response: The footage is irrefutable!

Due process much MyMommyPaysMyTicketsAnyway?

Oh, & BTW, Glenn Beck wants his shtick back.
@5: Unfortunately, I think so.
He must be one of those pathetic doomsayers who believe that the world will end this year,
May 21st or something, supposedly.

Tim Eyesore has been hellbent on leading us into the dark for years.
@31--apparently you don't drive around here much? Even with NO real traffic, it seems no one can even attempt the speed limit, even in the middle of the night, people are parked in the passing lane doing 50 mph on I-5. Don't even get me started about highway 16.
Bull shit. Plenty of other studies indicate different types of accidents take place as people slam on the brakes or race through other intersections. I don't think the issue is anywhere near settled. Red light cameras are not proven to increase safety. They are primarily there to increase revenue. Please feel free to look at this study.

@35 You are absolutely right. I expect better from the Stranger. This one highly suspect study is easily refuted by many other studies showing nearly opposite conclusions. A very quick and simple google search is all that is required.
@9 there's currently 50 speed cameras in WA. And here they are:

@42 - You can run a red light while making a right turn. But I'm sure your friends were all innocent, law abiding citizens who always admit when they are wrong. That you chose to present 3 instances over the thousands of documented, undeniable cases where people ran red lights and got fined is typical of weak ass liberal shitheads that fill this city. "See, my corner case ought to be considered with equal weight!" The public has a vested interest in the benefits that red light cameras can and do bring; they reduce the incidence of people running red lights by financially punishing those that do. People that run red lights can and do kill and cripple citizens. We choose to use imperfect technologies every day because the benefits outweigh the drawbacks or shortcomings. I do not know this Glenn Beck you speak of.
If you slowed down and stopped when you saw a yellow, like you're supposed to, maybe you wouldn't get ticketed.
Maybe you and Tim could reach a compromise? Longer yellows, keep the camera, halve the tickets? Get back together next year and see how many pedestrians were crushed by assholes behind the wheel?

The reason Tim Eyman annoys people is the way he is portrayed in the media. Spin control is the byword. Most of you don't know him, myself included. It is incumbent upon all of us to view the issues and not the people as much. By conservative estimates Eyman has saved the taxpayers BILIONS of dollars and has put many legislators on notice. Red light cameras? The issue is muddied by the marketing propaganda from the sellers of said cameras.
It's pretty pathetic that the author didn't interview Tim or provide links to the many other studies (as other folks have posted links to) that show the IIHS study was garbage.

Automated ticketing is flawed as it gives a false sense of security/safety. Safe driving comes from aware and attentive drivers only. I know plenty of people who have been in accidents while going the speed limit and obeying all traffic lights/signs....they just suck at being attentive drivers. How many people do you see on the highway that just park in one lane and never move or look at their surroundings? Interesting study here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vi0meiAct…

I also can't stand Tim Eyman, but I'm with him on the red-light cam issue. I received a ticket via a red-light cam while making a free-right turn on E. John Street. Not only had I stopped briefly before making that turn, but my long-term knowledge of that intersection told me that the light was red to oncoming traffic, and therefore there would be NO potential danger. I resented the fact that while the ticket arrived, it never told me how many seconds were considered a legal stop or how to correct my behavior; and I found out that two neighbors in my block had received exactly the same ticket, using the same historical assumptions about the traffic patterns that I did. And here I thought these cams were just about people running red lights, not people making legal right turns. Count me in as a traffic cam hater.
Tapping your phone line could save lives too, are you okay with that? Will you support any high tech meets Big Brother initiative as long as a statistic can be found suggesting its effectiveness?