The Scam

Table of Contents

  1. Fraud Scheme
  2. Psychology of the Scam
  3. Decision Traps
  4. Violators vs Non-Violators


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 modify driver behavior in order to prevent crashes.

Misdirected Purpose

1. The first deception the medicine show operator introduces is a red-herring. A red-herring is a pungent cooked fish which deflects blood hounds from their prey. In the figurative sense, a red-herring is a misleading statement meant to distract you from the real purpose of the object of sale. The deception is that red light cameras are about safety. That is false. Red light camera programs are not about safety; they are about red light running. Safety and red light running are two separate concerns. In traffic engineering, the legal motion of traffic and the safety of traffic are apples and oranges. One does not imply the other. The following pie chart demonstrates the difference.

For every 100,000 red light camera tickets, Suffolk County sent 99,888 tickets which did not involve a crash. Safety and red-light running are not equivalent.

Let me explain:

Imagine an intersection that is a 4-way stop. The intersection has 4 steady red lights instead of stop signs. Because the lights are always red, every driver runs red lights. But no one crashes because every driver has to stop. The intersection is safe yet everyone gets a red light camera ticket. We are talking only of an imaginary intersection here, but in reality the traffic engineer routinely designs such intersections. When an intersection is deemed unsafe, the engineer's standard technique to make it safer is to shorten the yellow light while lengthening the all-red interval. The more the engineer does this, the more the intersection looks like the 4-way stop. The result is that fewer vehicles crash but more vehicles run red lights. This means more safety and more money. Camera companies and the city coffers love this. When you hear, "The intersection is safer because of the cameras", know that you just heard a red-herring. The real reason for the safety is that an engineer lengthened the all-red clearance interval.

Presenting red-light cameras as being about safety is false advertising. It is a false pretense. False advertising is a crime in every State.


Which brings us to . . .

2. While traffic engineers concern themselves with safety, they could care less about the legal movement of traffic. This is an eye opener for Joe Public.

A traffic engineer's primary goal for highway design is efficient flow of traffic. His second goal is the safety of motorists. His seventh goal on his list of goals is the legal motion of traffic. To achieve the first goal, traffic engineers sacrifice the other goals. The most common tactic to attain the goal of flow is for the engineer to shorten yellows. Shorter yellows mean that drivers see more green during the course of a day. Traffic is "going" more instead of slowing down. When an engineer is faced with a highway surpassing its capacity, it is much cheaper for the city to shorten yellows than to add a lane.

The traffic engineer's strategy is no different than the computer gamer's. A gamer will over-clock his computer to order to get more speed, yet he knows that more speed will cause intermittent glitches in Microsoft Word. The gamer rather game fast than Word process and so he opts to live with the glitches. The difference in our traffic scenario is that when the traffic engineer over-clocks the traffic signal timing, tens of thousands of drivers get a $50 ticket and some drivers crash who would not have crashed before.

Misdirected Cause

The second deception is the medicine show operator wants everyone to believe that it is drivers driving badly which causes crashes. The operator wants to take your attention away from bad traffic engineering--the real cause. By design, traffic engineers make drivers run red lights. It is literally a formal guideline for traffic engineers to "tune" an intersection to cause 3% of drivers run red lights. While engineers know they can make fewer drivers run reds, the engineers choose 3% because the intersection is "faster" and still "reasonably safe."

Traffic engineers also force drivers run red lights by math errors:

All over the world, traffic engineers get the math wrong in a simple physics formula which determines the duration of yellow lights. This results in making the yellow light too short by up to 4.5 seconds. For a left turn where the driver slows from 45 mph to 20 mph, DOT guidelines will give the driver from 3 to 4.5 seconds of yellow. But by the laws of physics, the driver needs at least 5.4 seconds. Drivers must have that 5.4 seconds. No one can overpower the laws of physics, and so the engineer forces the driver to run a red light.

As the driver slows down from the speed limit, the lesser his speed will be when he enters the intersection and the more "into the red" he traverses the intersection. In the most extreme type of decelerating movement, the U-turn, the engineer can force a driver to enter the intersection 4.4 seconds after the light turns red. People watching the late-arriving driver think that the driver is a horrendous scofflaw. But he is not! The engineer is the scofflaw and at worst a murderer. Causing people to enter the intersection this far into red, that is at a time beyond the all-red clearance interval, means conflicting traffic has already received the right-of-way. Conflicting traffic will hit the driver.

It is engineering malpractice to get the math wrong.

We have been living and dying by engineering malpractice since 1965. Nobody thought anything of it until now. The reason there is a big stink now is because cities dispense red light camera tickets to their entire populations within a few years. That has provoked sufficient anger in a sufficient number of people to raise suspicion and incite revolt. Everyone is getting tickets. Is everyone a criminal? Is everyone that bad a driver? Is the entire city of Chicago (population 2.7 million) criminals twice over? 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 red-light running would come to an end. But that is not what happens. A unceasing supply of red-light camera tickets prevails. Drivers still run red lights according to the contradictions between the engineer's bad math and the laws of physics. Crashes must occur. The only difference in crashes is that some right-angle crashes transmute to rear-enders. Yes, the camera changes driver behavior. It induces a panic. Drivers now prefer to slam on the brakes than beat the light.

Red light cameras are what they are. The old-time medicine show operator's snake oil.

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 any way it can.

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 partly responsible, the Swindle can continue. The red light camera company commits quackery 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.


2. Traffic engineers use pseudo science to time yellow lights. The unusual thing about the red light camera scam is that the red light camera company doesn't even have to devise its own pseudo science to start the Swindle. The traffic engineer has already done that for it.


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. Two acts of fraud serve to this end:

1. Present dramatic crash videos. The sole purpose is to instill fear of reckless drivers. The fraud is that crashes 1) are caused by reckless drivers, and 2) that dramatic crashes are the usual outcome of red-light running.

Both statements are false. To the contrary, the following statements are true: 1) The vast majority of crashes are caused by bad traffic engineering. One proof is that cameras appear only at specific intersections on specific approaches. In traffic engineering 101, we are taught that a driver's ability is a constant. Driver ability does not change from one side of town to the other. So for a camera to appear only on a specific approach means that the engineering is particularly poorer on that approach. And 2) The videos present only angle crashes from cars coming in orthogonal directions. But only 2 out of 100,000 red-light running events end in such an angle crash (Suffolk County, NY 2015 report). About 70% of all red-light running occurs within one second, literally beyond human perception.

2. Present before/after camera studies. A before/after study is science fraud. The kind of study that is supposed to happen is called a forensic analysis. As opposed to the before/after study, a forensic analysis follows the scientific method and seeks the cause of crashes. A before/after study presumes the cause is bad driving. The presumption is false from the start. Engineers know that dozens of engineering factors significantly contribute to crash rates. To presume to blame drivers is an ethics violation. To perform an analysis without the scientific method is also a violation of the State's laws for professional engineers. Professional engineers must comply with the physical sciences.

It does not matter who is performing the before/after study. Any one who does one, whether the police, the DOT, a large engineering firm like AECOM or SRF, or a university like Northwestern University or NC State University, commits science fraud. It is that obvious.


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% 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. Though it is their legal obligation to present a preponderance of evidence proving your guilt, they will force upon you the obligation to prove your innocence. It is a perverse twist of law. At best your admin panelists have is an incomplete video. It is a video that conveniently restricts itself to evidence showing only your guilt. The video shows your car, the traffic signal and about 30 feet of roadway up and downstream from the intersection. The video does not show what has happened 400 feet up and downstream from the intersection where things happen that would exonerate you. For example 1) a car cuts in front of you. He is coming out of a business. You have to slow down to avoid rear-ending him. Your slower average speed extends the time it takes you to reach the intersection. Because you already too close to the intersection to stop, you had to tap your brakes. That deceleration forces you to run a red light. 2) An ambulance coming up behind you will make you get out of the way. You go forwards but you run a red light. 3) It is the middle of the night. The traffic signal is stuck on red. You are waiting for nothing. You go. You run a red light. 4) A train trestle blocks your view of the upcoming traffic signal for several seconds. During this seconds, the signal turns yellow. By the time you emerge from under the trestle, you are too close to the intersection and the light turns red. You run the red light.

These exonerating events are neither in the field of view nor the time span of the red light camera company's video. The camera company does this on purpose.

The kangaroos on the panel are city employees whose vested interest is to see you convicted. Sewer plant operators, truck drivers, accountants and if you are lucky (not), police officers. Absolutely none of them have knowledge of the red light camera laws, the rules of evidence, engineering or physics or the courage to stand up for what is right. They don't know what a traffic signal plan is. They don't know what a yellow light means. They do not know what the MUTCD is. They do not know the engineering specification of the DOT, and certainly do not know whether those specs comply with State statutes for professional engineers. Your kangaroos neither know the laws by which to measure your obedience, nor do they know the laws by which to measure the city's obedience.

The kangaroos are paid by your accuser. And to top it off, the kangaroos take orders from Redflex. Reflex commands the city employees to "limit defenses to 5 minutes, and hand over all decisions to Redflex and Redflex will make sure the driver gets the verdict."

Even when you took pictures and videos to the hearing, pictures and videos proving your own innocence, the admin panel will dismiss your evidence without blinking an eye. Your panelists do not understand that the burden of proof is upon them to show you are wrong. Instead they will dismiss your evidence and accept only their own. They condemn you for running a red light, and that not by watching the video, but by the mere fact that the video exists. They cannot convict by watching you run a red light, because 70% of the time, vehicles enter intersection so close to the light turning red, that no human can perceive the car's front bumper passing over the stop line after the signal turned red. Therefore, the panelists condemn you on the basis that video simply exists. After all, the computer said so. There are many problems with this reasoning. 1) Human should not be judged as if they have the perception-reaction capability of computers, 2) a human's field of perception is smaller than his field of view--watch National Geographic's Brain Games, and 3) a computer can be programmed to make its subject look guilty.)

If the admin panelists find that they are responsible for the condemning thousands of innocent drivers, and they report their findings to their city employer, the city will fire them. The city does not want to hear an ethical imperative to return millions of dollars to innocent motorists. The city will not admit its guilt. Even when caught red-handed, no city has ever publicly confessed that it was duped into empowering and participating in a fraud scheme. So instead of doing what is right, the panelists opt to keep their jobs. The panelists protect their employer and convict everybody.

It is also likely that the panelists appearing to judge your case are not the ones signing your conviction. In Cary, North Carolina, the person who signs your conviction was not one of the "panelists-judges" but rather your accuser. He was the one who charged you with running the red light in the first place.

5. The fifth decision trap is a secret one. If you do not go to kangaroo court, you forfeit all legal rights to bring your case before a real court. The city conveniently does not publicize this trap. You will not find it on your citation. This trap is buried within the fine print of the enabling statutes. Only if you go to kangaroo court and the kangaroos condemn you, then you can then petition a real court to review your case. Only then can you participate as a representative in a class action law suit.

Because you are tenacious, you went to kangaroo court and the kangaroos condemned you. You can now proceed to the sixth trap.

6. The sixth trap is deciding whether you have the fortitude to petition the Superior Court. You survived the condemnation of the administrative panel. You have exhausted your "administrative remedies." Are you going to take your case to a real court? Not only do you need fortitude, but also you need legal know-how. You decide to file motions pro se because hiring a lawyer is too expensive. After all, this is only a $50 ticket.

At this point, we got discouraging news for you. Only a lawyer has the knowledge to write such a petition. You cannot even say nature of certiorari let alone know what it is. But because you are obsessed with sticking it to the man, you read "Represent Yourself in Court" and give it a try anyway:

You petition the court. The city erects several new road blocks. 1) 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 2) assumes that the town possesses a decision that the court can judge, and 3) assumes that the town possesses a recording of the proceeding. The law also comes with a time limit. You must do all this within 30 days of receiving the decision from the hearing.

If the city feels threatened by your challenge, then city plays dirty. The city will not issue a decision. To get a decision, you have to 4) file a motion to legally compel the city to give you a decision. Before you can compel the city 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 city won't give you the recording of the proceeding either. So you then you 5) file an injunction against the city to get the recording. But the city never made a recording. The city 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. This is what happened in Cary, North Carolina.

Petitioning in the nature of certiorari turned out to be chasing a rabbit. It was not necessary to go through this step even though the red light camera law says it was. Wake County Superior Court regards the petition unreasonable because it takes years to prepare a case, not a mere 30 days. That fact did not prevent Cary's lawyer from insisting that we go through this process. The judge dismissed her motion with a guffaw.

You now proceed to the seventh decision trap.

7. The seventh decision trap. A peaceable solution may be possible. Do you talk to traffic engineers? Does this get anyway? You want to resolve the matter out of court. "Please just fix the math mistake and I will let it go." But the traffic engineers do not listen. And when you listen to them, it is clear that they haven't a clue what the mathematics of their own specs mean. But then four months later, you catch them correcting their mistake in the traffic intersection where you got flashed. The engineers brought the intersection up to spec. You confront them and say, "I see your brought your yellow light duration up to spec. The yellow light is now 0.5 seconds longer. The camera tagged me at 0.3 seconds into the red while it was still 0.5 seconds short of spec. Are you going to tell the City to give me back my $50?"

The engineers and the City blow you off for a month. Then the City replies, "Specs change all the time. We are not giving you back your $50." They deny wrong-doing. Yet you know their spec hasn't changed in 5 years. Certainly the laws of physics have not changed in 14 billion years. You caught them lying. You know that the City knows it has screwed hundreds of thousands of people and intends to continue doing it for as long as it can get away with it.

The City is challenging you to do a dual.

Do you have the passion to take them up on that dual? Are you going to proceed with petitioning the court over an engineering failure? Yes.

8. Decision trap 8 is deciding to go through the process of Litigation. Do you hire a lawyer to defend against a $50 ticket? From a financial perspective, this is as stupid as stupid gets.

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 basic principles of physics. In the entire State of North Carolina, there is only one lawyer like this. Paul Stam. By shear luck, he happens to be your State Rep. He sees an unjust law affecting his constituent. This lawyer has faith in you, is going to litigate the case out of principle, and is going to do it pro bono. You found an Addicus Finch.

At this point, the only worthwhile reason left to take this to trial is a moral principle. You feel the 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 and are willing to engage in a legal battle. How many other drivers dared to run the gauntlet through the fifth level? Only those people qualify. Those people are very rare. Then you have to find them. And if you find them, then you have to convince them to let the city whip them some more.

Three years of pretrial motions, motions to dismiss everything, discovery, depositions, interrogatories and hearings pass. Now you get your day in court. You bring your entourage of eminent physicists and engineers to show the judge that the State's traffic engineers have royally screwed up their yellow light calculations. It really is so simple after all. The equation is supposed to be t = v/a, not v/2a.

The City argues to strike the laws of physics. That one is so crazy that you are stunned. Are lawyers really this stupid or desperate? One cannot think that the judge would actually entertain such a motion. But the judge does! The City argues that it is obeying all the statutes and that the yellows were set to spec--that the spec complies with the math and physics. The City argues that math errors should not be the concern of the Court. The City argues that it was not responsible for setting the yellows (only exploiting them) and that it is the NCDOT's fault for any wrong-doing, if there is, with the engineering.

The judge rules in favor of the City but does rule about the physics. The City just did what its professional engineers allowed it to do. Behind the scene however, several months earlier and just after the judge certified the class action, the City turned off its cameras. Did the judge make a deal with the City? The judge certainly understood the physics. Did the judge make a deal with the Towne of Cary? Did the judge rule in Cary's favor if Cary just turned off its cameras? I will never know.

But the presence of the cameras are systematic of the underlying math errors of the NCDOT.

Now what? The engineering mistakes persist. People are still getting screwed by the red light cameras in the next city down the road. People are still crashing and dying even in your own city. No legal precedent is set. The solution to a world-wide problem cannot get past the borders of your own little city.

What next? What is the ninth decision trap? You file complaints against traffic engineers with the Board of Engineers.

9. The ninth decision trap is to complain to the Board of Engineers about the math-incompetence of the State's traffic engineers. That these engineers, by not knowing math and physics, are harming the public.

The State's Board of Engineers is the authoritative government body whose mandate is to understand the mathematical and physical sciences, to assure that professional engineers know these things, and to discipline those engineers who do not. You must file one complaint for each traffic engineer who made the math mistake in the "traffic signal timing chart" on the "traffic signal plan of record." The complaint is, "The engineer is incompetent. He does not know the math and physical sciences in order to safeguard life, health and property." "Incompetence" is the word used in the professional engineer's required legal code of conduct.

The incompetence certainly came out in the depositions taken from step 8. The traffic engineers do not even believe in Newton's Law of Motion let alone understand that their yellow light equation is a flawed derivation of it.

So you file complaints with the North Carolina Board of Engineers.

What happens?

The North Carolina Board of Engineers (NCBELS) refuses to meet its statutory mandate. The Board will not discipline its engineers. Though the Board finds no fault with your own math and physics, it refuses to discipline traffic engineers for their obvious bad math. NCBELS' justification: "We do not discipline an engineer for conforming to the standard of care of his industry [even when that standard of care include math mistakes which harm the public's life, health and property.]"

The Board does not want to discipline an entire sector of engineers. The Board wants the sector to fix itself. That fixing hasn't happened to this day, even when the sector has known about the existence of these errors since the 1980s.

The legal violation here is that the traffic engineer's standard of care departs from the standard of care required under law.

The Board, through inaction, has now violated the engineering practice statute's obligations for the Board.

Is there a next step?


Without the Board acting to protect the public, there is no other government body qualified to act.

For grins we wanted to see what would happen if we bypassed the Board of Engineers and directly confronted the traffic engineer in Court. We did that is decision trap 10. This is what happens:

10. Todd Platzer of Wilmington filed a small claim (for $50--the cost of a red-light camera ticket) against Pamela Alexander, a traffic engineer who got the math wrong at dozens of intersections throughout North Carolina. Platzer filed pro se; that is, without a lawyer. Because Alexander worked for the NCDOT, she invoked her right to use the NC Attorney General to defend her. So instead of our hoping to face Alexander over a high school math error where real progress could be made, we now had to face off with the Attorney General. The AG's interest is defending Alexander, even when Alexander says 2 + 2 = 5. His interest is not establishing truth.

Anyway, we sued only to see what would happen. We saw. If you attack the traffic engineer directly, the AG comes out of the closet. The AG comes out to defend engineering malpractice because NCBELS would not defend engineering practice.

The Board of Engineers' involvement is critical. When the Board fails its obligations to get involved, the Board creates contradictory confrontations between government and the public.


Attorneys Need to Note the AG's Initial Argument

Attorneys fighting against the red-light camera ticket must be aware of the AG's initial argument. His first argument was perjury. The AG argued, "The NCDOT has sovereign immunity." The king or his servants can do no wrong; therefore, we had no legal standing to sue the NCDOT or Pamela Alexander.

The AG is not telling the truth.

Any government agency in North Carolina forfeits its claim to sovereign immunity once it partners with a private company. The DOT partnered with the private company Verra Mobility--the red-light camera company. The NCDOT partners with Verra Mobility in order to give Verra Mobility access to the DMV's vehicle license database. Without access to the database, Verra Mobility cannot mail citations to vehicle owners. The NCDOT is also responsible for dispensing the tickets.

11. In a different case, the class action against Greenville, in March 2022, the engineering errors came before the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The Appellate Court would not rule on the math matter. The Court deferred it to the NC General Assembly.

Deference of engineering matters to the legislature is a legal problem unto itself. The problem with handing over engineering matters to legislators, is that engineering is not decided by vote. Engineering is decided by math and science. One does not vote on Newton's Laws of Motion. Handing over engineering matters to legislators turns legislators into engineers practicing engineering without a license. It would be like giving the legislature power to make a law on how to perform open-heart surgery, as if legislators know.

The takeaway is that when the Board of Engineers refuses to carry out its legal obligations of disciplining its wayward engineers--even a whole sector of them, the attorney must include the Board of Engineers in a law suit. The Board of Engineers is aiding and abetting engineering malpractice.



To the rid the world of the charlatan fraud scheme that which is red-light camera programs, attorneys must confront the programs on the basis of the State's engineering practice statutes--the statues which require that engineering is the application of the mathematical physical sciences. Red-light camera programs, and the traffic engineers who time traffic signals, misapply the mathematical and the physical sciences which creates a pseudo science which fails the engineering statutes.

Traffic engineers do have a standard of care (essentially a pseudo science), but this standard of care departs from the standard of care required under law.

The judicial and legislative systems are clueless about engineering and the laws that regulate it. In order to effectively confront such traffic engineering cases, an attorney must have a solid working knowledge of engineering practice law, math and the basic principles of physics.

On deposing and cross-examining the defendant's expert traffic engineers, an attorney must be able to effectively field responses from traffic engineers. The attorney must identify the numerous repetitive and erroneous assumptions traffic engineers present as truths. The attorney must be prepared to confront the engineer with the truth. It is possible that attorneys can do this because the responses of traffic engineers are both predictable and simple. Their responses follow a common dogma.


Violators vs Non-Violators

The definition of violator from an engineers point of view is different from that of a police officers point of view. Good engineers separate red light runners into two categories: violators and non-violators. Violators are guilty; non-violators are not guilty. Non-violators are drivers who are doing nothing wrong who get trapped in an error made by the engineer.


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.)


Given the physics described at this web site, 99.999% of drivers running red lights are 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. The traffic engineer's yellow light formula is responsible for this behavior.

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.