I think this was a good business decision. If you’re a red light camera company, and you’re working with a county, a city, or a state to make as much money as you can for yourselves and your government buddies, what better place to put a red light camera than at an intersection right next to the hospital emergency room where people are naturally going to be rushing when they’re in an emergency?
So, you’re pregnant wife’s water broke, and you’re rushing to get her to the emergency room for delivery, and you’re stuck at a stubborn red light. You wait for an eternity as your wife groans in pain and as you stare at the emergency room that’s right there. You can’t wait any longer, so you wait until the oncoming traffic subsides, and you slam on the gas and make it just in time to the emergency room, where your wife is escorted quickly to labor and delivery.
In addition to the hospital bill that you’ll receive, you’ll also get a citation for running that red light. You try to fight it in court, but the judge tells you that your “sob story” is no excuse to break the law and then tacks on another $125 for wasting his time.
Now, I don’t know if that exact scenario has happened, but something similar did happen to a guy who thought he was having a heart attack. Here’s Florida Watchdog:
Authorities installed red-light cameras near the emergency room entrance at University Hospital in Tamarac [Florida] to nail traffic violators, but those rushing to the facility for medical attention are getting ensnared.
When Jacob Alcahe began to sweat and feel chest pains this past October, he thought he might be having a heart attack.
“That day I felt very bad,” Alcahe said. “I couldn’t breathe and I was sweating and my chest hurt,” he told Florida Watchdog.
So Alcahe decided to drive himself to the Tamarac hospital. With the emergency room in sight, he stopped at the traffic light at the intersection of University Drive and 72th Street and waited anxiously for the light to turn green. After several minutes, he decided he’d waited long enough.
“I was desperate to get to the hospital because I felt very nervous,” Alcahe said.
Fortunately for him, the episode wasn’t life threatening. Alcahe was prescribed some medicine and was told to go home and rest.
The real heart stopper came a few days later when he received a fine of $158 for running the light.
“I went to court trying to show the judge medical records. I explained that it wasn’t intentional, but it was a medical emergency,” Alcahe said.
But he was told his medical emergency wasn’t a “sufficient excuse” and was charged an additional $125 for the judge’s time.
In total, his rush for help cost him $283.
According to Florida Watchdog, the city of Tamarac issued 571 red light citations at that very intersection near the hospital between September of last year and this past Tuesday. If each traffic code violator were charged $158 as Alcahe was, then in less than 7 months, Tamarac pulled in just over $90,000. And that’s just one intersection. Part of that money goes to the camera company, and part of it goes to the state. Very little of it goes into to doing anything productive at the local level.