LETTER: Is Red Light Camera Ticketing Right Hand Turns?


February 3, 2011

I received a warning citation in the mail regarding a red light I allegedly ran on West Broad Street and Annandale Road, heading east . I didn’t recall running a light, and indeed, in the photos, it looks like I’m at a stop with my foot solidly on the brake. I questioned my memory and let it slide, being that it was simply a warning, not a citation.

However, over the past few days I’ve been at that intersection and, while waiting in the left lane for the light to turn green, noticed the camera snapping away photos of cars who approach the light, stop completely, then safely take the right-turn on red to proceed down Annandale Road. There is a sign posted stating there is No Right Turn on Red for Trucks, but doesn’t stipulate anything regarding cars.

What action will the City of Falls Church take to ensure that motorists are not improperly ticketed at this intersection? I don’t believe making the “No Turn on Red” action cover trucks and cars alike is the right answer, as it would be a response aimed at changing the rules to net the tickets. Nor do I believe cars should have to deal with the administrative details of fighting a ticket. Indeed, most people may not think to challenge that there isn’t a sign there.


Letters to the Editor should be submitted to [email protected]. They may be on any subject relevant to our City. Writers should include their full name and city of residence. All submissions are subject to editing.

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By (see byline)
February 3, 2011 


18 Responses to “LETTER: Is Red Light Camera Ticketing Right Hand Turns?”

  1. David Johanson on February 3rd, 2011 5:34 am

    The camera video tapes the entire event. Not just a “snap shot”. The video is reviewed by the cops, and a determination is made as to whether a violation occurred. It’s not “automatic” that a ticket is sent.

    If the driver gets a ticket, they are given the chance to court and contest it, where the video is played in open court for all sides to see by the policeman who issues it. The court system then plays out. The system is like everything else. New to us, but not new.

  2. Jan B Hertzsch on February 3rd, 2011 6:50 am

    An interesting thought. For as long as these things have been around, I have to believe they have resolved this issue. I could not find a solution on the web in the quick search I performed. The thought that goes through my mind is several quick pictures to see what the driver does after first entering the intersection.

  3. TFC on February 3rd, 2011 7:00 am

    I am wondering if the sign referred to ( and pictures) by the poster is prohibiting truck travel on Annandale Road rather than prohibiting right turn on red by trucks.
    If the poster has had an opportunity to review the photos and believes there is an error, is there a way to challenge the warning? I assume a warning does not present an “opportunity” to be heard in Court?

  4. H Duke on February 3rd, 2011 7:23 am

    The same thing happened to me at Cherry Street. Have you called the City to find out if you can write in to have the warning removed? There is no go to court to contest language.

  5. Charlie Anderson, City of Falls Church on February 3rd, 2011 8:36 am

    The sign says no right turn for trucks – trucks are not allowed on Annandale Road. The sign has nothing to do with the stop light. There would have to be a sign that says “no right turn on red.”

  6. SOL FCC (Our Little City) on February 3rd, 2011 11:19 am

    That corner is too tight for trucks to make the turn.

  7. Ralph McGehee Charleston SC on February 3rd, 2011 12:05 pm

    They just want your money.

  8. Donna Englander Falls Church on February 3rd, 2011 3:11 pm

    yep, same thing at the intersection of Broad and Cherry — came to a complete stop to make a right turn onto Cherry and saw the camera flash once. I heard if it flashes twice is when you have to worry?

  9. (Name not provided) on February 3rd, 2011 3:31 pm

    Instead of us asking each other about a “theory” of how it works, then mentioning that we “have heard” things about the system, why doesn’t the FCT simply ASK the police officer in charge of the program for clarification. Then you can actually report on a story with factual information rather than vague “maybe’s” and “not sures”. You are a newspaper, aren’t you? Seeing as this story appears on “PAGE 1″ and isn’t listed as some sort of “editorial”.

    I see someone wrote a letter to the FCT, and they simply have reprinted it for all of us to waffle and flim flam. The real answer is as easy as one phone call or a friendly visit to our local PD. Please be a newspaper again!

  10. Cecily Shea on February 3rd, 2011 10:27 pm

    I saw the red light camera flash at Broad and Annandale a couple of days ago. No one ran the red, but a car was turning right.

  11. vlfrance, City of Falls Church on February 4th, 2011 9:06 am

    Gee “Name not provided” – ever heard of a letter to the editor in a newspaper? Ergo, opinion or comment by a reader?

  12. Richard Donnely on February 4th, 2011 12:19 pm

    vlfrance, I must agree with the overall concept of “name not provded”s remarks..It is not an opinion, nor is it a comment, it is a question; a question the writer posed to the FCT who blindly passed it on, allowing the citizens to continue to “talk amongst themselves” without actually providing any newsworthy reporting on the subject. Plus, it was listed on the “front page” of their site.

    It leads me to believe, once again, that the FCT is mroe of a blog, than a community “newspaper”. I still see no reporting on the topic by the FCT, and here we are now, quabbling. It appears the writer asked the FCT the question, hoping they might get an answer….anyone see an answer?

  13. George Southern on February 4th, 2011 2:58 pm

    Mr. Donnely:
    Anyone who wishes to “get my goat” need only to brand the Falls Church Times as a blog. It is not – it’s an online newspaper.

    What’s the difference? Well, a newspaper has a staff, who write using their real names. A newspaper differentiates between “reporting” and “opinion.” And, usually, a newspaper provides an opportunity for readers to send in letters for publication.

    The Washington Post is not a blog. Neither is the Falls Church News-Press. And neither, for that matter, is the Falls Church Patch. They, along with the Falls Church Times, are all newspapers. I don’t know how many of these publications will still exist in 10 years, but I predict that, if they do exist, they will be online only. But we’ll probably still call them “newspapers.”

    That said, I have nothing against blogs – in fact I often find them informative. Here is an example of a blog: “Save Our Little City.” You will note that it focuses on one subject, and one only; it updates at undefined intervals; while it is not anonymous, it does not feature the names of its writers; and it clearly expresses an opinion on one side of an issue. None of these characteristics is necessarily bad, but they are not characteristic elements of a newspaper. (Nor does “Save Our Little City” make any claim to be a newspaper.)

    Perhaps I should be proud that among our readers are some who believe that the Falls Church Times is capable of investigating every issue that we publicize. This at a time when the once-august Washington Post can barely even spell the words “investigative reporting” anymore.

    But, to state the obvious (which apparently needs to be stated), when a newspaper prints a letter to the editor, it is not responsible for first investigating the issue at hand. Why print the letter at all? Because, again to state the obvious, it draws attention to one person’s concern, which, judging by the comments, resonates with many.

  14. Robert Thomas, Falls Church on February 4th, 2011 3:51 pm

    What’s the confusion? It was a letter to the editor. FCT has always put the latest info on the front page. People who write letters can say what they want. The FCT is calling for people to write factual articles for them. Perhaps you Mr. Donnelly could call City Hall and get an answer?

  15. Tom Coffin, City of Falls Church on February 4th, 2011 5:25 pm

    DJ’s first response answered Wlliams letter pretty succinctly. However, there is a serious micro ecomonic question to be answered here.

    Does the vendor who operates the camera and video taping get paid by the iffraction? or by the delivery of each taped incident? If the later, CFC needs to either move the camera to another corner without right turn on red or add a no right turn on red sign there because they are losing money everytime a car turns right on red.

    Even if it’s the former, then there’s the hours of watching video which does not result in an infraction which is wasted.

  16. TFC on February 4th, 2011 7:03 pm

    I also wonder if failing to come to a complete stop before right turning on red is an infraction covered/captured by the red light cameras.
    George, your stance is perfectly understandable but, sounds like it could make an interesting story for FCT……

  17. Tom Coffin, City of Falls Church on February 4th, 2011 7:41 pm

    a couple of articles:


    old, but relevant

  18. E. D. on April 7th, 2011 2:55 pm

    Just received a citation in the mail for the red light camera at Broad St./Annandale Rd. I was making a right turn, but did come to a complete stop. Saw the camera flashes at the time and thought to myself, “Surely they won’t ticket a right turn”, especially since there is no indication that making a right turn is illegal at that intersection (except for trucks).

    Also, the picture was taken at 10 pm on a Saturday night and the road was completely empty. No one was coming from the shopping center or from Annandale Rd. on their green light and I was the only car within sight on Rt. 7.

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