Red Light

Sep. 9th, 2016 11:14 am
ralphmelton: (apple)
[personal profile] ralphmelton
This morning on my commute to work, I got cited for running a red light downtown.

The police officer's story was that I went through just after the light had changed from yellow to red. That's not out of the question; I have misjudged yellow lights before.

However, I have no memory at all of doing so today. I don't remember hoping that I would make it through before the light changed; I don't remember any yellow light at all.

I've spotted three possible explanations for this discrepancy:
1. The officer was wrong or lying.
2. I sailed through a yellow light without noticing.
3. Something about the light made the officer see it very differently from me.

All of these alternatives are concerning. #2 and #3 have serious implications for public safety. #1 has serious implications of its own.

I don't know how to disambiguate those explanations or what to do about the ticket.
This is my first incident in over ten years, so the consequences of pleading guilty are not that big a deal right now.

Date: 2016-09-09 05:46 pm (UTC)
blk: (avatar)
From: [personal profile] blk
I got mailed a ticket for running a red light once, with proof from a red light camera. It clearly showed my car running a very red light, in a place I had definitely driven around that time on that day. I had absolutely no memory of doing so, but nothing looked forged or even mistaken, so I believe that it happened.

Date: 2016-09-10 03:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] laurene bossert kasper (from
I can't imagine you running a red light. I would plead not guilty and go to traffic court. It might be a hefty fine AND points. I see your point about perception. You might be on to something there. I have noticed that people speed up when you are merging. Not just to cut you off but it seems like a reflexive action. It happens to me almost every time.

Date: 2016-09-10 07:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Did they tell you what the police officer's situation was? It would be interesting to know where they were, what they saw, what they were doing at the time... and as a concrete point, if they wrote any other red light tickets at that intersection that day.

Like, if they were sitting there watching the intersection hoping to ticket cars for running red lights, then I could see them screwing up -- seeing what they were looking for, or mixing up your car with the actual culprit. (Do they actually do this? Stand up some red light cameras and go fight crime, will ya.)

If they were apparently just around there doing something else, and claim they noticed you run a light... in that situation it would be a strange thing to make a mistake about out of the blue, and a strange target to lie about, so I guess I'd tend to believe them?

I don't know about you, but I can conceive of not noticing I went through a yellow if I perceived it as an "uninteresting" yellow, turning close enough ahead that there's not a decision about stopping. So if I managed to misperceive that far enough, it could happen, but yeah, I guess it would imply a full second-plus of inattention to the light, which would be alarming.

Date: 2016-09-10 02:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Much of that I don't know, but he ticketed a car behind me as well. That answers whether they wrote any other red light tickets in a trivial way, but that's not quite what you really meant.

Date: 2016-09-13 06:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Behind you in that light cycle? That's interesting, implying that that driver *really* blew through the red. Or... something else.

It would be interesting to have the opportunity to compare notes with that driver.


ralphmelton: (Default)

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