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Photographing red-light runners

Let cameras crack down on reckless drivers

A traffic camera shows a car just missing a bus after driving through a red light in Arnold, Mo.

Special to the Times

A traffic camera shows a car just missing a bus after driving through a red light in Arnold, Mo.

Taking pictures of drivers breaking traffic laws is not a violation of privacy issues as far as I am concerned.

Some years ago, my wife was nearly killed when someone ran a red light and struck her car just inches from her driver's door. Had it not been for three witnesses who stayed behind to give their names, the driver would likely not have been charged.

Almost every day, while driving to and from work, I witness drivers blatantly running red lights. My "old school" driving instruction taught me to attempt to stop when the light turns yellow, not "try to beat it." The problem is, these days, when you stop on yellow, you might be risking your life because of the bad driver following you.

Take my picture! If the light is red, I deserve a citation. Just because everybody else does it, doesn't mean it's acceptable.

Kurt M. Klotz, Largo

Drivers can choose

Some of the comments concerning cameras at stoplights are laughable.

The cabbie's Big Brother statement in Friday's story (If you don't stop you should smile) is particularly funny. When you are in public you have no privacy and may be photographed. Google "photographer's rights" and see what you find. As far as not being able to question the accuser, sure you can. You have the right to dispute a claim. Don't want your photo taken? Don't run the red light.

Complaints about the county getting more money are a hoot as well. Don't want to pay the county? Don't run the red light.

Here's another way of looking at it: If you do run the red light, you won't be pulled over by that mean, nasty cop who wants only to waste your time.

Again, it's really very simple: If you don't want your photo taken and have to pay a fine, don't run the red light.

Dori Emerson, Palm Harbor

Give help in deciding

I have a suggestion for helping with the red-light problem.

While many drivers run red lights simply because they are distracted, uncaring, or due to a whole host of other reasons, I think in many cases, they just have a hard time making that split-second decision as to whether or not they can stop safely.

My suggestion is this: Place a distinctive marker across the roadway, say three yellow lines, at a specific distance from the stop line. This distance would be calculated from the speed limit and the timing of the caution light.

If you approach the intersection at the speed limit and have not yet crossed the marker when the light turns yellow, you should be able to stop safely.

If you cannot stop in time, you were obviously exceeding the speed limit or driving with unsafe brakes.

If you have already crossed the line, you should be able to get across the intersection before the light turns red.

This is a low-cost answer that should eliminate at least one cause of red-light running.

Leonard Silva, St. Petersburg

Make penalty tougher

A few points to consider. First, driving a vehicle is a privilege, not a right, and the privilege is only extended as long as you drive safely and follow the rules. Second, any time you are in a vehicle other than in your garage you are in a public space and subject to public observation by anyone including the police or a camera. Finally, police officers are expensive, and in this time of budget constraints we can't afford a cop on every corner. Some other alternative has to be found or we'll have to abandon safe streets.

My personal preference is to put Capt. Kirk's phaser on automatic and vaporize anyone running a red light. Failing that, the fine should be $500 and an automatic three-month license suspension. The only flaw with the camera plan is that the fine is too low and it doesn't count as a moving violation.

And while we're at it, we should use cameras for speeding violations as well. A 30 mph speed limit, to many people, seems to suggest that they shouldn't go much faster than 45, unless of course they are in a hurry — to watch Survivor or something.

The more cameras we can get out there, as soon as possible, the better.

George Goodenough, Largo

Lower the speed limits

Regarding "red-light running," doesn't anyone realize the big problem? Red-light running is caused by speed limits being too high. Most of our main roads have 40 to 45 mph speed limits. Everyone drives at least 5 mph over those limits, which makes it impossible to stop in time. If limits were lowered by 10 mph, you'd be able to stop.

Henry Kamerling, St. Petersburg

Democratic primary problem

Florida's legislators deserve

the blame for this mess

I am trying to sort out who is the real owner of the Florida delegate vote problem.

Is it the national committees of the two parties? Weren't they just enforcing their rules for orderly primary schedules? Is it the candidates who honored those rules by not campaigning here? Is it the voters who had no say in the primary schedules but had to go along with the election process? Is it the Florida budget that can't afford to redo any election process? Or the state Democratic Party demanding action for disenfranchised voters?

Unless I am wrong, the owner of this problem is the Florida Legislature, which decided to defy the schedules set by the rules committees of both national parties. Giving Florida an earlier voice in the campaign might be important, although I am not sure that in this campaign it would have made a difference. But bullying our way onto an early schedule deserved sanctions, and now we are paying the price.

The demands that our delegates be seated, or that the Democratic National Committee pay for a new election of delegates, asks the national committee to take ownership of Tallahassee's macho showmanship. It is a real possibility that another presidential election will be decided by bullying tactics in Tallahassee, regardless of what Florida voters want.

Ron Melancon, Tampa

Let the vote stand

I can't believe the talk of having some sort of Democratic primary "do-over"!

The Democratic National Committee passed up its opportunity to listen to the voters of this state. We had an election. They ignored us and said they wouldn't even respect our results. Now somebody is floating the idea of having another primary. This is borderline insane. I for one don't want a single tax dollar going into anything like this.

I am not a Clinton supporter, but our voters declared her the winner here. The DNC can accept that — or continue to ignore/disrespect our voice in this campaign.

Jim Bullard, St. Petersburg

Many went unheard

All voices need to be heard in Florida for our Democratic primary. This was not the case as it stands with the Jan. 29 primary. I canvassed a precinct door to door before the vote. I heard over and over: I am not planning to vote because my vote will not count.

On the day of the primary, I stood at a poling place with my Obama '08 sign. A woman approached me and said, "Why are you standing here with that sign? We can't vote for a presidential candidate today." She had come to vote on the tax change that was on the ballot and was surprised to find out that the Democratic presidential candidates were also on the ballot. This was only one precinct in the whole state. There was a lot of confusion and misunderstanding. There are thousands of Florida voices that were not heard on Jan. 29.

A fair and just primary is a must for our state. If every voice and vote is to count, the Democratic National Committee and the Florida Legislature need to make it happen. Floridians will do our part and vote.

Emily Bell, St. Pete Beach

This is democracy?

This is the first major election season in my life that I have heard the term "superdelegates," and even more to my dismay only the Democrats seem to have them.

For a nation that goes around the world trying to spread "democracy," we sure do not seem to have it here. We vote for a candidate, and then if the superdelegates do not like our choice, they can cast their vote for whomever they owe the greatest favor to. Let the voter (us) go to Hades!

Then once the candidates get into office they are bought out by lobbyists, and again we the people get to go to Hades.

Boy, something sure stinks!

Burt Yellin, Sun City Center

Crist's motives are suspect

The GOP-controlled Legislature moved up the date of Florida's primary knowing that the national Democratic Party was already saying that if they did so, Florida would be stripped of its delegates.

Although the Democratic candidates abided by their party's rules and did not campaign in Florida, Hillary Clinton carried the state in the primary. Since she now is apparently unable to catch up with Barack Obama by winning delegates in the other primaries, her supporters are licking their lips now over the prospects of somehow either getting the votes of the delegates that would have been won in the Jan. 29 primary or getting another shot at Florida's delegates through a repeat vote. Her campaign's efforts are now being assisted by Gov. Charlie Crist, who apparently spares no effort in trying to get into as many photos as possible with the GOP's nominee, John McCain.

Does anyone truly believe that our governor is more concerned about the votes of Florida's Democrats not being counted than he is in trying to ensure that McCain will face the Democratic contender that polls show will be easier to beat in the general election? What better way can our governor prove his worth to McCain as a running mate than by making sure that his opponent in the general election is Clinton rather than Obama?

D. Michael Elkins, Valrico

Selfish seniors

I had a friend visiting recently from the North. He was surprised at the number of foreign cars in my senior citizen community. He thought that Americans born during the Depression with friends and relatives who died in World War II would be more patriotic. I told him it is not all that surprising. Seniors are basically selfish. They have their Social Security checks and guaranteed pension checks. The fact their grandsons can't find jobs is not their problem. Their idea of patriotism is putting a "support our troops" sticker on their Lexus.

(By the way, for the cost of a Lexus one could own a Malibu or a Mustang and with money left over be a "Partner in Hope" at St. Jude's Children's Hospital for 100 years.)

Now before the Times gets a lot of mail about quality and costs, let me make two other points: Last year Ford won the bulk of the J.D. Power Quality Awards in the United States. And every Japanese and German car is priced higher than its American equivalent. Why? We buy them anyway.

It's a sad commentary. In my community, the homeowner's association actually owns a Toyota truck. Disgraceful! These folks may still call themselves the "Greatest Generation," but, in fact, they lost that honor years ago.

Bob Granger, Palm Harbor

International Women's Day, March 8

A day for women

In 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay and voting rights. These hard-won rights are taken for granted in America today. Women did not get to vote until 1920; we are still struggling for equal pay and equal rights. The United Nations has observed this day since 1975.

Why dedicate a day exclusively to the celebration of the world's women? Increasingly, it is a day to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. Women fight tirelessly in opposition to war and violence, oppression and rape, often being victims themselves.

If you are not involved now, get involved to protect your hard-won right to vote!

Charlotte J. Knaub, Sun City Center

War refugee turns Hollywood heads | March 2, Floridian story

Remember reader interests

This story about Nubs is more than a story about a dog, and the Times needs to remember that.

Animals, in this case a stray and abused dog, bring us back to the "humanity" in humans. Our soldiers are in harm's way every day, and this story shares how they still manage to find the strength and determination to help even an animal in need. Hooray for our soldiers and for another great story from the award-winning Lane DeGregory.

The St. Petersburg Times needs to remember that these stories, stories with a local connection, are what people want to read in the paper. Enough already with TV shows, national entertainment and stars in trouble; save that for the likes of Entertainment Tonight and People magazine, which do a better job at it anyway.

You have very talented writers like Lane DeGregory, Ben Montgomery and John Barry. Please, St. Petersburg Times, do not lose your way!

Kelli Lineberger, St. Petersburg

Let cameras crack down on reckless drivers 03/07/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:30am]
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