Sentinel effect?


My Garmin loaded with the latest camera file issues a warning as I approach the intersection of College St. NE and Martin Way E. in Lacey, Washington but I have yet to see the camera here. This location appears to have been erroneously added. Maybe someone mistook a traffic light sensor for the red light camera.

I believe the only location under surveillance is the intersection of Pacific Avenue and Sleater-Kinney Road. I do know that Lacey has more red light camera warning signs than actual cameras. There are also warning signs at the intersection of Pacific Avenue and Carpenter Road and at the intersection of Martin Way E. and Marvin Road SE but again, no red light cameras.

This community might be operating on the assumption that the warning signs promote safety if one isn’t certain exactly where the cameras are located, something that might be akin to the sentinel effect or Hawthorne effect in sociology or medicine.

Auburn, Washington is similar in that it also has warning signs but these just indicate that you are entering a community that has red light cameras whereas Lacey’s warning signs appear to be more specifically targeted to particular intersections.

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Sometimes the data is just bad. I've reported a couple of locations where the file claimed there was a red light camera but there was none. One may have been there in the past but if so is now removed, the other was very close to my house and I'm sure that there was never a red light camera there. I've also reported couple of intersections with cameras that were not yet in the database. Miss POI is good about updating the database when she gets reports, but she clearly needs our help to improve the data and keep it up to date.

I very much doubt that this miss-reporting is any attempt to make the intersection safer, it would affect far too few drivers. I don't know why anyone would have reported false locations like the one near my house. There is nothing near the intersection that can even be mistaken for a red light camera.

And, of course, Jack Kirby made the best Sentinels.


As list of cameras is made from user's reports it may be prone to errors or mistakes. Sometimes camera may be removed or moved to other location. Sometimes may be reported by mistake. It just happens.

In case that you catch mistake in locations of cameras (or any POI) just report them to person that is editing them. Cameras can be reported here

So just join efforts from users of this page and help us to make camera file as accurate as possible. Complaining that somebody didn't do something will not help wink But reporting errors actually can.