The Scam

Table of Contents

  1. Fraud Scheme
  2. Psychology of the Scam
  3. Decision Traps
  4. Violators vs Non-Violators
  5. Traffic Engineers Systematically Misapply the Yellow Light Formula
  6. Papers


Fraud Scheme


Red light camera enforcement is a type of fraud called charlatanism. A charlatan is a person practicing quackery or some similar confidence trick in order to obtain money, fame or other advantages via some form of pretense or deception. A charlatan resorts to quackery, pseudo science, or some knowingly employed bogus means of impressing people in order to swindle his victims by selling them worthless nostrums or services that will not deliver on the promises made for them. The word charlatan calls forth the image of an old-time medicine show operator, who has long since left town by the time the people who bought his snake oil or similarly name tonic realize that it does not perform as advertised.

The charlatans are the red light camera companies.

The bogus means of impressing people is videos of cars crashing into each other, which everyone must admit is both dramatic and impressive.

The nostrum is the red light camera itself.

The promise not delivered is that red light cameras prevent red light running.

The reason that red light cameras do not prevent red light running, is because the medicine show operator prescribes his nostrum to the driver, but the driver is not the one who is sick. The sick party is the traffic engineer. The cure for the traffic engineer is not a red light camera, but an introductory physics book.

Traffic engineers systematically misapply a physics formula to yellow light durations. Engineers' ignorance of what the formula means and their misapplication of the formula yield practices that violate physical laws of Nature. The specific law they violate is the equation of motion "a = dv/dt." The violation, "2a = dv/dt", forces all drivers to habitually run red lights.

Since cities enforce laws based on standards that violate the Laws of Nature, those laws are null and void. You can prosecute red light camera tickets under that argument. That is what we are doing in Cary, North Carolina. Since red light running tickets exist only because traffic engineers violate the laws of physics, all red light running tickets are null and void.

Red light running tickets actually have been null and void since 1920. That was the year when William Potts, a Detroit police officer, invented the yellow light and guessed at how long its yellow light should be. 90 years later traffic engineers are still guessing.

The only reason why now there is a big stink about getting a ticket for running a red light, is because red light camera companies send tickets to virtually everyone. That has provoked sufficient anger in a sufficient number of people to raise suspicion and incite retaliation. The amount of money cameras pull in continuously is empirical proof that cameras do not deliver on their promise. If red light cameras worked as billed, then there would no continuous supply of money. But the money flows regularly. Red light cameras are what they are. The quack doctor's snake oil.

The problem lays not with drivers but with traffic engineers. It is possible to sue the engineer for malpractice. Suing the engineer has already been done and won. A traffic engineer is without excuse. His profession is engineering which is by definition the application of physics. He is expected to know physics. By implementing traffic signal plans opposing physics, the engineer is being negligent. He is legally guilty of malpractice. The engineer should be concerned. But the logical course of action is to sue the municipality in a class action. After all, the municipality gave the authority to the red light camera company to scam the public. The city can deal with its own incompetent public works staff or the State's DOT in their own way.

In turn, the municipalities may sue the red light cameras companies for fraud only if the contract with the red light camera companies makes a promise to deliver a reduced rate of red light runners. In any case, the municipalities have been scammed.

Confidence Game

The red light camera industry plays a Confidence Game. A Confidence Game is a fraud scheme where the Perpetrator gains the confidence of the Mark to defraud the Mark in some way. Perfect Confidence Games are so effective that Marks do not report them to the authorities for fear of looking foolish or because the game involved something unlawful.

A Shill is a person in the Confidence Game that acts as a participant to draw in the Mark. A Shill is an Accomplice--one who is paid to play as part of the Swindle. Derived from casino gambling, where the shill is a paid employee used to attract other gamblers.

The Perpetrator is the red light camera company.

The Mark is the driver.

The Shill is the city. At first the city is the Mark, but the city turns into a Shill.

When the Mark catches the Shill in its game; for example, the driver catching the city trying to cover up its yellow light timing mistakes, the city will not admit its mistakes because it fears looking foolish and because it no longer has the money to make restitution. 95% of the money the city swindled from the driver the city has already passed on to the red light camera company. Therefore the city will use all its legal weight, including tactics expected only from corrupt corporations, to fight the driver. To save face in the public eye and to avoid restitution it can't pay, the city will perpetuate the fraud for as long as it can. But for every red light camera ticket given out, the city digs itself a deeper hole.

Factors of Fraud

1. People blame drivers for running red lights. People are either self-deprecating blaming themselves for not doing a better job at trying to stop, or people are self-righteous blaming others who run a red light as reckless. This factor provides the control weakness for red light camera companies to commit the fraud.

So long as people believe drivers are the party responsible, the Swindle can continue. The red light camera company commits quackary by diagnosing the driver and prescribing to him a red light camera. That prescription does not work, as proven by the continuous influx of red light camera money.

A real doctor would address his diagnosis at the traffic engineer. The diagnosis is "ignorance of basic physics." The prescription is to read an introductory physics book.

Though it is hard for everyone to believe, it is truly the traffic engineer who is responsible for all the red light running for the past 100 years. He habitually and systematically forces all drivers to run red lights. For the last 100 years, he truly doesn't know why t = v/2a forces drivers to run red lights. But show t = v/2a to a physicist, and a physicist will tell you why in 15 seconds.

People, including traffic engineers, think yellow times can be established by feelings. "I feel the yellow time must be 3 seconds. I feel that the yellow time should be increased by 1 second. I feel that increasing the yellow time would make people treat the yellow light as a green light."

Think about this. Imagine a traffic signal without a yellow light. The signal immediately turns from green to red. You approach the intersection at 45 mph. You are 2 feet away from the intersection. The light instantly turns red. Can you avoid running the red light? Your answer should be "No. I cannot avoid running the red light. No one could." Is your answer a feeling?

If a traffic engineer puts in a yellow light and sets it to 1 second, would that 1 second be enough time? Your answer should be, "No. I cannot stop within 1 second either." Would 2 seconds be enough? How do you feel about 3 seconds? Should even one have to guess at this? If you know physics, you say, "Of course not. Figuring how much time one needs to stop, slow down or proceed, are physics problems which have been already been solved by Isaac Newton and Galileo Galilee."

You are in California wanting to make a left turn. You are going the speed limit of 45 mph. You need to slow down before starting your turn. By the universal laws of motion, it takes exactly 3.7 seconds for you to decelerate from 45 mph to 20 mph at California's rate of 10 ft/s/s. The light turns yellow when you start hitting the brakes. But California engineers set left turn yellows to 3.0 seconds. They feel it should be 3.0 seconds. How do you feel about that?

2. Traffic engineers use pseudo science to time yellow lights. The Perpetrator of the Fraud doesn't even have to devise its own pseudo science to start the Swindle. The traffic engineer has already done that for him. Traffic engineers do not know physics. That's why the scam exists in the first place. Either traffic engineers guess at yellow times or misapply physics. In every case, they underestimate yellow times up to 100%. Traffic engineers set yellow times which demand drivers to violate the physical laws of the universe. Since no one can violate the physical laws of the universe, engineers force everybody to run red lights. Their habits are systematic and international. Do you know why we slam on our brakes? Do you know why yellow means go faster? It is because traffic engineers' misapplied physics forces these reactions. Rear-end crashes. T-bone crashes. These are the faults of traffic engineers. Suffering, fatalities and the financial exploitation by red light camera companies. These too are the faults of traffic engineers.

"People have suicide complexes localized to certain intersections." That is what the red light camera companies want you to believe. Do not believe it. The videos of drivers crashing at certain intersections has nothing to do with localized aberrations of human behavior. The city claims, "We install the cameras at intersections which have the most crashes." But the reason crashes occur the most at these intersections is because traffic engineers screwed up these intersections the most.

You do not need crash data to identify these intersections either. The engineers' systematic misapplication of physics identifies them for you. You don't have to be a physics expert to understand the misapplied physics. As a driver you experience the problems of poor engineering every day:

1. You approach an intersection. The light turns yellow. You are just at that point where you don't know whether to stop or go. You guess wrong and innocently run the red light. Guess what? The traffic engineer did not give you a margin of error. Engineers assume you know exactly the location of the invisible line on the road where "must stop" turns into "must go." When faced with similar situations, sometimes you attempt to beat the light. Beating the light is an action to ensure that you won't be in the intersection when cross traffic gets a green. It really is a safety precaution and all do it. The action of beating the light is a necessity to compensate for the engineer's error for not providing a margin of error. Since the yellow time is only half the time it takes to stop your car, accelerating is the only alternative.

2. The light turned yellow. You are approaching the intersection at the speed limit and you must enter the intersection because you are too close to stop. Your traffic engineer will force you to run a red light under any situation which requires you to slow down before entering the intersection. You are in such situations when you are . . .

a. Any left, right or U turning driver. Any turning driver must slow down before beginning his turn. Depending on speed limit, unless you are within about 5 car lengths from the intersection when the light turns yellow, the city will force you to run a red light.

b. Any driver who slows down because of the next intersection down the road. The city will force you to run a red light at the first intersection.

c. Any driver who proceeds through the intersection but is faced with a red light at the next intersection. If the next intersection is within 300 feet on a level 45 mph road, the city will force you to run that red light.

d. Any driver who slows down for any reason because of conditions near the intersection. If there is an exit from a strip mall on the far side of the intersection and cars emerge from it, and you slow down for these cars before entering the intersection, the city will force you to run a red light. If a car in the opposing direction turns left crossing your path and you have to tap your brakes to avoid hitting it, the city will force you to run a red light. If there are bumps or potholes or railroad tracks in the road which require you to slow down, the city will force you to run a red light.

The foundation of the entire red light camera industry sits on the traffic engineer's ignorance of physics. The industry counts on engineers incorrectly guessing yellow light durations and misapplying the yellow light duration formula.

Is it easy to right the wrong? Is it easy to fix the engineering? Yes it is. And cheap too. Just set the yellow light time to the full time it takes to stop. Engineers currently set the yellow time to half the time to stop. Yellow does not mean stop; it means go! The true physical definition of a yellow light is a stupidity which prevents you from decelerating for any reason before entering the intersection. If engineers increase the yellow time so that anyone can decelerate within the time the light is yellow, the number of red light runners drop to 0.


Psychology of the Scam

To keep people from suspecting that it is the engineer's fault, the red light camera industry reinforces people's presumption: blame the drivers. As long as people believe that, the industry stays in business.

Know this. For business reasons, red light camera companies do not care about catching reckless drivers. There are too few of them to make a profit. But there is an insane amount of profit from collecting on the enforcement of a bogus traffic engineering standard that violates the laws of physics. Imagine a law forbidding gravity. Imagine the amount of money you would collect by penalizing everyone for walking on the ground. The enforcement of the yellow light formula is like that. As a matter of fact, the underlying physical law which governs gravity is the same one being violated by the traffic engineer.

Everybody runs a red light at least once a month. Even you. You are most likely unaware of it. You unintentionally do it and you do it by just a fraction of a second. The habit is normal to everyday driving. 83% of all red light running occurs within one second of the light turning red. Nobody use to care about that, not even the police. But that fraction of a second bank rolls red light camera companies. The companies do not divulge this fact.

Instead of the truth, camera companies prostitute their product by showing crash videos. That is a lopsided view of reality. For every crash video, there are ten million videos where it is almost indiscernable whether the driver ran a red light. As for the crash videos, how many have you seen? 1? Perhaps 2? Even in these videos, the red light camera companies blame the driver. But if you know what to look for, then you will see the problems that traffic engineers had created which forced the drivers to crash. When you know what to look for, the errors are obvious. You will see victims of short yellow lights. You will see left turning drivers entering the intersection at the end of a yellow phase while opposing forward drivers are in a dilemma zone. You will see victims of the absence of an all-red clearance interval, victims of green lights that are too short causing unforgivable traffic jams, or victims subject to bad road geometry. There is never an exception.

Also 99% of what causes a driver to run a red light exists outside the frame of the video. The video only shows the closest 25 feet to the intersection. But on a 45 mph road, any obstacle from 300 feet before the intersection to over 300 feet after the intersection can force a driver to run a red light. The video conveniently leaves out this information. Consider a driver who is committed to enter the intersection (he can no longer stop safely) and he is still 290 feet from the intersection. A car slows down in front him. The driver has to tap the brakes to avoid a collision. But the yellow light formula forbids a driver from tapping his brakes. The formula demands that drivers proceed into the intersection at no less than the speed limit. Tapping brakes drops his speed to under the speed limit. There is no time in the yellow light formula giving drivers time to slow down. The formula forces the driver to run the red light. That driver who taps his brakes at that distance will enter the intersection up to 4.0 seconds after the light turns red. His entry occurs after the termination of the all-red clearance interval and when cross traffic gets a green. The traffic engineer has just caused a T-bone crash.

It is traffic engineers who cause crashes. The camera companies show these crash videos to police departments. Police are easy Marks for camera companies. The companies show the videos to the police because police are blind to engineering problems. Police do not discern bad engineers from bad drivers. The military mind set of the police is that drivers are enemies of public safety. Police assume that engineers know what they are doing. Police cannot identify a short yellow even when shown one a thousand times. Police say, "The light is red. You ran it. We are here to enforce the law. You are a lawbreaker. Here's the ticket." Police don't want it any more complex than that.

Once the camera companies con the police, the police show the rare videos to town councils. The councils are as in the dark as the police. The councils vote for the cameras because the companies lure the towns with the promise of a large revenue stream justified in the name of safety. With the facade of safety backed by the police, the council can then prostitute the red light camera to the public who are as in the dark as the council and the police.

After the camera companies have effectively deceived everyone, the councils change local and State law to make the cameras happen. With the help of the legal departments of the red light camera companies, lawmakers turn their eyes away from such things as legal precedent, local, State, national and laws of nature.


Decision Traps

A decision trap is an engineering term. A decision trap is a device placed in your path that pushes you to respond in a specific direction in order to achieve the covert purpose of the trapper. The red light camera laws are a gauntlet of decision traps. The purpose of the traps is to maximize profit of the red light camera company while getting no complaints from you. The psychology is to make defending yourself not worth your while. The path of least resistance is to give up and pay. All traps operate to this end.

1. The first decision trap comes in the untimely arrival of the ticket--a week after the alleged event. Do you remember running a red light? Are you going to trust a video that says you did? In the absence of engineering knowledge, you will most likely trust the video, condemn yourself and pay the $50. The trap worked. But if you feel like challenging the ticket, then . . .

2. The second decision trap is that the town turned a criminal offense into a civil penalty. There are no court costs and no insurance points. The penalty is $50. Though this seems like a good deal, it is a decision trap. You now have to decide whether it is financially worth challenging the ticket. Since the civil fine is only $50 and 0 points, is it worth taking time off from work to challenge the ticket? 99.999% of the accused stop here. You pay. The red light camera company gets it money, and no one hears a challenge. The trap worked.

3. The third trap is whether you are willing to pay $50 to buy a hearing. The price of the hearing so happens to be the cost of the ticket. So if you are going to send $50 to the town, you effectively just paid. You lost what little equity you have. Why challenge the town to retrieve the $50? They already have it. The third trap worked.

4. The fourth decision trap is that the administrative panel is a kangaroo court. So why try to defend yourself? They will condemn you no matter what. Even if you present a preponderance of evidence proving your innocence, the kangaroos will not recognize it as such. Their evidence against you is a video of you running a red light. That is as far as they are capable of thinking.

The kangaroos on the panel are town employees. Sewer plant operators, truck drivers, lawn mowers and an occasional accountant. They have no knowledge of law, no knowledge of engineering and certainly no knowledge of physics. They don't know what a traffic signal plan is. They don't know what a yellow light means. They don't know what a DOT standard is. Your kangaroos neither know the laws by which to measure your obedience, nor do they know the laws by which to measure the town's obedience. To top it off, the kangaroos take orders from Redflex. Reflex commands the town employees to "limit defenses to 5 minutes, and hand over all decisions to Redflex and Redflex will make sure the driver gets the verdict."

5. The fifth trap is a secret one. The Town of Cary conveniently does not publicize this trap. If you do not go to kangaroo court, you forfeit all legal rights to bring your case before a real court. You cannot petition the court to review your case. You cannot participate as a plaintiff in a class action law suit. Unless you have sleuthed around the Cary City Ordinances, you would never know this one.

6. If you survive the condemnation of the administrative panel, then you must decide whether you have the fortitude to petition the Superior Court. This is the sixth decision trap. Not only do you need fortitude, but also you need legal know-how. You decide to file motions pro se (aka., by yourself) because hiring a lawyer is too expensive. After all this is only a $50 ticket. We got bad news for you. Only a lawyer has the knowledge to write such a petition.

When you petition the court, the town erects several new road blocks. The town rewards you with a specially worded law tailored to squash your advance. Petitioning the court must come in the nature of certiorari. This kind of petition comes with two assumptions. Such a petition 1) assumes that the town possesses a decision that the court can judge, and 2) assumes that the town possesses a recording of the proceeding.

If the town feels threatened by your challenge, the town plays dirty. The town will not issue a decision. To get a decision, you have to file a motion to legally compel the town to give you a decision. Before you can compel the town to give you a decision, you must have a recording of the proceeding. A decision means nothing without the recording of proceeding that goes along with it. The town won't give you the recording of the proceeding either. So you then file an injunction against the town to get the recording. But the town never made a recording. The town formally forbids anyone, kangaroos or you, to record the proceeding. If the judge is willing to overlook all that, then you can appear before the judge and plea your $50 ticket.

7. Since the sixth trap is a dead-end, there remains only the option of the seventh trap. Are you going to hire a lawyer? Do you hire a lawyer to defend against a $50 ticket? From a financial perspective, this is as stupid as stupid gets.

You hire a lawyer and not just any lawyer will do. You need a lawyer who knows municipality law, prosecutes cases of natural law, who has faith in your abilities to demonstrate the principles of physics, and who understands the principles of physics himself.

In the entire State of North Carolina, there is only one lawyer like this. You just so happen to find him, and hire him. The real reason to proceed is a moral reason. You feel the moral imperative to prevent millions of others getting screwed the same way. Yet in order to help others, you must turn the case into a class action. But to turn the case into a class action, other drivers must exist who qualify to engage in a legal action, and those drivers must also be willing to take part. How many other drivers dared to run the guantlet through the fifth level? Those people are very rare. Then you have to find them. And if you find them, then you have to convince them that the Town needs to whip them some more.

What kind of driver do you have to be to run the gauntlet? You have to be innocent. You have to know why you are innocent. You have to know the real problem in order to vindicate your case before a judge. And most of all, you have to run the gauntlet because it is the right thing to do. You know that if you don't do something, millions of more people will be robbed, maimed and killed. $50 is simply not worth the trouble.

Town councils and the red light camera companies collude to find all sorts of clever ways to circumvent existing statutes. The Town of Cary simultaneously violates 11 separate laws in order to keep the blood money rolling in.



Violators vs Non-Violators

There is a huge discrepancy in whom traffic engineers call red light violators and whom the law calls red light violators. The law decrees anyone who runs a red light a "violator." But contrary to that definition, is the definition from the traffic engineer. Traffic engineers separate red light runners into two categories: violators and non-violators. Violators are guilty; non-violators are not guilty.


Red light runners who are violators . . .

  1. Drive through the light intentionally, or
  2. Are drunk drivers, or
  3. Are suicidal, or
  4. Have been distracted by things other than traffic conditions, for several seconds.

And . . .

  1. Drive through the red light several seconds after the light turned red, and
  2. Approach an intersection where there is no dilemma zone type I or type II issue. (I describe the dilemma zones in the next section.)


Traffic engineers deem the greatest majority of red light runners, 999,999 out a 1,000,000, as non-violators. These red light runners are not guilty. They should not be punished.

Red light runners who are non-violators . . .

  1. Do not drive through the light intentionally, and
  2. Are sober, and
  3. Are sane, and
  4. Have not been distracted for several seconds.

And are usually characterized by . . .

  1. Entering the intersection only a fraction of a second after the light turned red for straight-thru movement, or
  2. Entering the intersection up to 5 seconds after the light turned red for turning movements, or
  3. Accelerating to beat the light. When not sure what to do, accelerating is the best decision. That's a feature of the yellow light formula.

These non-violators have been subjected to a engineer-created dilemma zone. There are two types of dilemma zones. Non-violators are either . . .

  1. Victims of Dilemma Zone Type I: These red light runners are forced into a predicament where neither stop or go is possible. No matter what decision the driver makes, he will run the red light. This is where the traffic engineer "confronts the driver with an unsolvable decision problem.", . . . or
  2. Victims of Dilemma Zone Type II: These red light runners are forced into a predicament that a decision is available, but it is not clear what the decision should be. The driver unintentionally picks the wrong decision. This dilemma is the result of human behavior. The human brain, after all, is not a computer.

The person who coined the phrases, unsolvable decision, dilemma zone, red light running violators and non-violators, is Dr. Denos Gazis. These phrases originate from his paper The Problem of the Amber Light Signal in Traffic Flow. He wrote this paper in 1959 while working for GM Research Labs.

The paper The Problem of the Amber Light Signal in Traffic Flow is important. That paper is thee origin of the yellow light duration formula. It is this formula that traffic engineers use today. It is the formula we live and die by daily. It is the standard upon which police judge you. It is this same formula that traffic engineers miscomprehend, abuse and misuse at almost every intersection. And even when traffic engineers use it correctly, the formula still contains a physics error that creates a type II dilemma zone at every intersection.

The people who coined the phrase dilemma zone type II, are Dr. Tom Urbanik and Peter Koonce. It comes from their paper, The Dilemma with Dilemma Zones.


Traffic Engineers Misapply the Yellow Light Formula

Denos Gazis' invented the yellow light formula. But from examining dozens of City of Raleigh and Town of Cary traffic signal plans, I know that traffic engineers do not know what the formula means nor how to use it. They don't understand the spirit of the formula, so they undercut it. They don't understand the physics in the formula, so they misuse it. They don't understand the preconditions under which the formula works, so they misapply it.

These are systematic errors which force drivers to run red lights:



A. Traffic Engineering Handbook, 1965

B. The Problem of the Amber Signal Light in Traffic Flow, 1959

C. Traffic Engineering Handbook, 1999

D. Traffic Engineering Handbook, 2010

E. The Dilemma with Dilemma Zones

F. Determining Vehicle Signal Change Intervals, 1994