For quite some time cameras have been used to prevent drivers from running red lights. Generally, these cameras are triggered by drivers who enter an intersection after the traffic signal has turned red, the driver then receives a hefty fine for the violation. While these cameras don’t force the drivers to stop and obey traffic laws, the financial penalty may encourage them to be a lot more cautious. However, there are people who believe that this preventative measure is a scam. Take for instance a 45-year-old man Stephen Ruth from Long Island, who spent the last couple of years fighting to get these cameras removed.
Suffolk County launched their red light cameras in 2009, and in 2015 they got Ruth’s attention. After hearing from his friends that they were ticketed unfairly, Ruth decided to investigate. According to him, in an attempt to ticket as many people as possible the city shortened yellow light time to force more people to run red lights.
It is believed that rear-end crashes are far more common where these cameras are present as they force the drivers to brake suddenly in an attempt to avoid a ticket. What makes the matter even worse, the cameras don’t allow any exceptions. Whatever the reason is the person ran a red light, whether it was done in an attempt to avoid being rear-ended or failing to prevent a car from skidding on a slippery road- the driver will receive a ticket.
Ruth, who thinks that the way these cameras operates is unjust decided to set things straight by taking the matter into his own hands. The frustrated man shamelessly cut the wires of several cameras in his town and even posted a video online showing other how easily it can be done.
Unsurprisingly, Ruth was arrested and faced 7 years behind bars, but the man managed to reach a plea deal and instead of jail time he got 1-year probation. “In pushing up a camera, or disassembling a camera, or whatever I do to a camera, all I’m doing is preventing drivers from being ticketed, tricked into tickets,” Ruth said.
His actions certainly caught everyone’s attention. Ruth was dubbed the “Red Light Robin Hood” and regarded as a hero by many people who are equally as frustrated about red light cameras.
However, despite sparking a movement and getting his message out in the open, Ruth, probably the biggest enemy of red light camera program ended his bouts with Suffolk County lawmakers in September 2018.