A warning in red

Dear Editor:
I received in the mail a courtesy warning notice (in red ink!) from: Jersey City Municipal Court, Automated Enforcement Program, Lewis S. McRae Justice Complex. It shows a photo, about 2 inches square, of my car allegedly running a red light in Jersey City. The warning informs me that there is no fine, and “no response needed”, but warns that in the future if I’m caught on camera I can be fined $85.
Well, I’ll respond anyway. The photo is too small and dark to make out any details except my car; I can’t see (even with a magnifier) the light I allegedly ran, whether it was green, yellow, or red. So I have to take the camera’s word for it. The photo does show a car very close behind mine. The notice urges me to (I’m not kidding!) “be aware of red lights. Please whenever possible slow down for a yellow light and stop on red.” We need a bunch of bureaucrats, supported by our taxes, to tell us this?
What the camera doesn’t know is that driving is not an exact science, it is an art. Sometimes, as every driver knows, it is safer (after looking both ways) to go through a changing light than to stop suddenly and risk being rear-ended by the car on your tail.
Why do we waste money on this kind of stuff? How much did it cost taxpayers to install these cameras, maintain a bureaucracy called the Lewis S. McRae Justice Complex, and mail this notice to me? Oh, I shouldn’t forget to mention that it’s all done for our “safety”. Of course! It’s all done for our safety, the unpatriotic Patriot Act that shreds the Constitution and takes our rights away, it’s all done for our safety!
I’ve been driving ever since my legs were long enough to reach the brake and clutch pedals (we shifted manually in those days). I’ve driven all over the U.S. and in many foreign countries, and have never been ticketed for speeding or running a red light. Never been in an accident. We’ve done pretty well up to now without these cameras. They do have a purpose, however, perhaps as a way for Jersey City to raise revenue. If a driver is mailed a photo claiming that he went through a yellow light, with an $85. ticket attached, what driver is going to take a day off from work to go to court to fight it, knowing very well that he’ll be declared guilty by his honor anyway.


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