Yellow means speed up, right?

We're all guilty. No way around it. We've all run a red light at some point. sometimes by accident, sometimes totally on purpose. I admit, I've been the only person at a red light at 2:00am and looked around very thoroughly before deciding to say screw it, and go. It makes me feel pretty badass. Running a red light can be ok, I think. Even if it's illegal.

Closeup of a traffic light by night in Israel. Red light.
N Rotteveel

But how many have you have stopped short of running a red light because you saw the camera on the traffic lights? Turns out, you don't really have anything to worry about. Those aren't red light/speed cameras. In fact, the whole reason that they're there in the first place is pretty awesome.

First off, we're not encouraging people to run red lights.

Let's get that out of the way. I'm just saying that camera up there is not trying to bust you for it. What it is doing, is making the roads safer. While it would make people safer to bust them for committing silly traffic violations, the cameras are part of a chain of devices that detect emergency vehicles.

An ambulance responds to the scene of an emergency.

If a fire truck or ambulance were to be coming down a busy road, these cameras will help detect it and trigger a change in the light pattern to stop traffic and make room for the emergency vehicles to get where they're headed with less traffic congestion. Those extra few minutes could be crucial when responding to an emergency.

Are cameras ever used to bust people for traffic violations in Maine?

Actually, yes. There are a couple of exceptions. For instance, if you're all out of cash for the tolls, or decide to just whiz on through an E-Z Pass lane, a camera will grab a photo of your plate, and you will be asked to fess up later on. You can even pay your fine after the fact online. Same goes for if you pass a school bus. Those will only be turned over to law enforcement when necessary.

School bus in Duluth, MN
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

But as far as red lights and such, you're safe. Again, I'm not implying you should run red lights, ever. That's on you. But, at least you know the minor league law breaker in you can get away with a couple little things here and there. Just don't blow by a school bus or skip a toll. They'll just take your license and throw it in the ditch, hahaha.

We should add running a red light to this list...

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