Device offers red light warnings

May 6, 2009 4:10:32 PM PDT
A Chicago company created a device that gives drivers a heads up when approaching red light cameras across the country.The city sets up cameras at dangerous intersections with histories of crashes. Running the light at these intersections could cost you big bucks.

Cobra Electronics has a device that will warn drivers when they approach a camera monitored intersection. The company has mapped all the camera locations and uses GPS to alert drivers when one is coming up.

"I have two small children in the car and a lot of times they're screaming in the car and I might not be looking around to see some of the signs," said Sally Washlow, Cobra Electronics. "But when this device goes off, it's telling me I'm approaching this dangerous intersection."

"It's all about situational awareness," said Tony Kainuma, who designed the device. Kainuma said it helps drives stay safe and avoid tickets.

"I think people would like to be informed when they're approaching these cameras so that they don't make an infraction that you didn't intend to," said Kainuma.

"It undermines some of the effect of these, of these cameras. It's a detriment to safety," said Joe Schwieterman, traffic expert at DePaul. Schwieterman is worried the detectors give drivers a license to run unmonitored red lights.

"There's really no reason to ever run a stoplight, so to need a reminder and to invest in technology to remind you I think suggests that the real motive here isn't safety, it's evasion," said Schwieterman.

"The detector and the locator doesn't give you a free ticket to speed, it's basically a device that will warn you of potential dangers including getting a ticket," said Kainuma.

Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications says there are already signs posted at every camera equipped intersection to warn drivers -- but anything that keeps drivers safe-- is a good thing.

These devices are built into Cobra's high-end radar detectors. They'll cost about $400.


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