Red Light Cameras – Just Say No

Just Say NoSorry, not a new topic, nor even a particularly hot one here, but I just saw a great report from Los Angeles on the dangers of Red Light cameras – increased rear-end collisions and significant monetary shortfalls costing the city upwards of $1m per year. It’s hard to explain why LA even continues the program until you consider the $100k+ the camera company spends in lobbying.

Here’s the link and some more info:

SoCal News Video Questioning Red-Light Cameras – Communities and states around the nation have had all kinds of different responses to the cameras. Some have banned their use, and some have implemented them, only to see the error of their ways after awhile.

Yet many communities continue to jump onto the bandwagon. Each time, the same issues of safety, fairness, and revenue arise. It is as if lawmakers don’t know the history of red-light cameras, and so they continue to repeat it, to the detriment of the motoring public.

KCET, the nation’s largest independent public television station, has aired an excellent report, “Caught On Camera,”  ( for its viewers in Southern and Central California. Reporter Judy Muller provides a lucid expose of the myths and the facts surrounding red-light cameras.

The 10-minute report is must-see TV for anyone who cares about potential or existing red-light cameras in their community – A few of the video’s key points:

  • The fine for right-turn-on-red tickets was tripled when the cameras went in (The fine is now close to $500!).
  • Yet Los Angeles is losing money off the program ($1mm + per year!).
  • Los Angeles’ own City Controller has serious doubts about the statistical benefits of the program, which are based on an  insufficiently small sample; better and contradictory national studies were ignored during the decision making process.
  • It is not clear why police and lawmakers favor the cameras, but the private manufacturer of the cameras, American Traffic Solutions, has wooed them with over $100K in contributions.

Take a few minutes out to watch the video, and share it with friends and family. If your community has red-light cameras or is considering them, send a link to your representative.

11 replies on “Red Light Cameras – Just Say No”

  1. I’ve been checking in to the status of this issue. According to the staff of the legislature’s transportation commmittee, under current Massachusetts law, municipalities may not use automatic traffic-light or speed ticketing systems.

    There are two bills currently pending to change that: House 918 and House 1799.

    I’m honestly not sure what I think about this issue. Your points are well made, but there are two sides of the conversation — I can see benefits to more enforcement. My gut instinct, however, is that these bills will not take off — they have a “big brother” flavor that doesn’t usually sell well in Massachusetts.

  2. Just an FYI – Rayhnam recently voted against a “home rule” petition to allow red light cameras, joining Swampscottt and Foxboro as the most recent communities to “just say no” to this bad idea.

    The Red Light Bandits are, of course taking notice — In Boston, ATS hired Lynch Associates, Inc to wine and dine lawmakers. Rival firm Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia hired Andrejs Bunkse, Serlin Haley LLP and Tamara Dietrich. Between 2005 and 2010, ATS, the Dutch firm Gatso and Redflex spent $161,432 lobbying state officials without success.

    In 2006, Swampscott produced a report (view report at concluding automated ticketing machines would improve safety.

    Photo enforcement has never survived when the question is put directly to voters. On Election Day last year, cameras were banned in Houston, Texas; Baytown, Texas; Anaheim, California; Garfield Heights, Ohio; and Mukilteo, Washington by votes of up to 73 percent against. In May 2010, 61 percent of Sykesville, Maryland voters overturned a speed camera ordinance. In 2009, eighty-six percent of Sulphur, Louisiana rejected speed cameras, 72 percent said no in Chillicothe, Ohio; Heath, Ohio and College Station, Texas also rejected cameras. In 2008, residents in Cincinnati, Ohio rejected red light cameras. Seventy-six percent of Steubenville, Ohio voters rejected photo radar in 2006. In the mid-1990s, speed cameras lost by a two-to-one margin in Peoria, Arizona and Batavia, Illinois. In 1997, voters in Anchorage, Alaska banned cameras even after the local authorities had removed them. In 2003, 64 percent of voters in Arlington, Texas voted down “traffic management cameras” that opponents at the time said could be converted into ticketing cameras.

    Marylanders, however, were not quite as smart….See below


    So Much For Precision

    Maryland drivers are unfortunate. Some jurisdictions in the state have contracted the services of Optotraffic, a company that touts the precision and accuracy of its red-light and speed cameras.

    Optotraffic notes that it uses “space technology” – a term that sounds like it was taken straight out of 1960s or 70s advertising – in its camera systems to help detect traffic violations.

    Almost from the time two years ago that the Maryland General Assembly approved the use of speed cameras in and around school and construction zones, Optotraffic photo tickets have raised the ire of local businessmen and vehicle owners alike.

    Through the modern technology of Optotraffic cameras, drivers of buses, large trucks and even recreational vehicles have been cited for traveling at improbable speeds in excess of 50 mph shortly after turning corners and heading up steep inclines.

    Will Foreman, a small business owner with a fleet of company trucks, has been served with over 40 speeding tickets by Forest Heights, a Prince George’s County community that employs the Optotraffic cameras. He has been fighting technology with technology by using Optotraffic’s photo evidence for his own defense.

    By superimposing the two photos provided by the camera company into one image and comparing their respective time stamps to a common stationary point, Foreman has gotten a dismissal of some of his tickets. (Others are still being contested.) In those successful cases, he was able to prove to the court his trucks were not exceeding the speed limit, contrary to Optotraffic’s “evidence.”

    Back to that space age technology. The Optotraffic system utilizes two laser beams, each one pointed at a different fixed location on the road. The distance between those two locations is known and the time it takes a vehicle to break one beam and then the other is measured by the Optotraffic system. The vehicle speed is then calculated by dividing the distance traveled by the time measurement.

    This is the basic description of a VASCAR (Visual Average Speed Computer and Recorder) system. For a VASCAR system to determine speed accurately, the time measurement over the predetermined distance must be precise and the distance between the fixed points equally so.

    Here’s the thing: The Optotraffic laser sensors focused on those two fixed points are mounted on the tops of separate 32 foot tall poles. The poles have been videotaped swaying in the breeze, which of course kills any chance of obtaining meaningful measurements.

    There is more — much, much more — to this story., managed by a NMA member, has done some tremendous reporting. If you are interested in following developments, check out that site. ?

  3. [on a related topic….]
    L.A. Police Commission Surprises LAPD Officials by Voting Down Red-Light Cameras

    Yesterday — June 7, 2011 — was a very good day for motorists who commute through Los Angeles. The City’s Police Commission voted unanimously to not renew their red-light camera contract with American Traffic Solutions (ATS). Unless the City Council overrides the Commission’s decision within 10 days, the red-light camera program in the nation’s second largest city comes to an end later this month.

    There is no doubt that the City Controller Wendy Greuel’s critical audit of the Los Angeles red-light program (released late last year) was a significant factor in the demise of the program. The report pointed to 7-figure losses each year, largely a result of unpaid photo tickets, and stated “We found that the program cannot conclusively demonstrate that it has reduced traffic collisions.”

  4. Three bills are currently under consideration by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that would authorize ticket cameras in the state.

    H.918 is a general authorization for cities, towns or political subdivisions to set up red-light cameras and speed cameras.

    H.1799 is a similar authorization for “automated road safety camera systems.”

    H.917 authorizes automated monitoring of school zone and school bus violations.

    It all adds up to more video surveillance and camera tickets, which is bad news for Massachusetts motorists, since:

    * The cameras don’t improve safety – they actually cause accidents.
    * There are less expensive, more effective ways of enhancing safety for motorists at intersections.
    * The due process rights of individual defendants are subverted

    The National Motorists Association strongly opposes such measures. You can see the plethora of arguments against red-light cameras and speed cameras here ( and here (

    On June 14th, Dave Condon, head of the Massachusetts Motorcycle Association, with assistance from the NMA, presented testimony to the Commonwealth in oppostion to the bills. He reported that Transportation Committee members were concerned about non-law-enforcement personnel issuing tickets and handling ticket information, other privacy issues, and the undue enrichment of camera system manufacturers.

    It is good that they are concerned. But it is critical for Massachusetts citizens to let transportation committee members ( and your own representatives know that you don’t want this unjust and oppressive technology in Massachusetts.

    1. (updated with actual email text – sorry, the previous version suffered one more edit before being sent)

      ——– Original Message ——–

      To: MA Transportation Committee Members
      Senate Members,,,,,

      House Members,,,,,,,,,,,

      cc: Will Brownsberger,,

      Ladies and Gentlemen:
      I am writing to you to express my opposition to the following proposed legislation:

      H.918 a general authorization for cities, towns or political subdivisions to set up red-light cameras and speed cameras.

      H.1799 a similar authorization for “automated road safety camera systems.”

      H.917 authorization for automated monitoring of school zone and school bus violations.

      Experience with these systems in other states has clearly shown that they are neither effective in improving safety (in fact, they can be detrimental as shown in the studies in California and Texas) nor do they provide monetary benefit to municipalities employing them. They are just not good investments. In these tough economic times we need to encourage municipalities to act responsibly and not encourage investment in technology which over and over again has been shown to be defective and flawed (see below). If intersection controls are properly engineered, installed, and operated, there will be very few red-light violations. From the motorists’ perspective, government funds should be used on improving intersections, not on ticket cameras. Even in instances where cameras were shown to decrease certain types of accidents, they increased other accidents. Simple intersection and signal improvements can have lasting positive effects, without negative consequences.

      Cities can choose to make intersections safer with sound traffic engineering.

      It is up to the state to provide guidance to the municipalities in this matter and the guidance to date has been to “just say no” to bad ideas like camera enforcement. Let’s keep our roads safe and follow the lead of communities like Swampscott, Rayham and Foxboro (and further afield, Los Angeles and others noted below) by just saying no to the these proposed bad bills.


      Rich Carlson
      12 George St.
      Belmont MA 02478

      External References:

      Photo enforcement has never survived when the question is put directly to voters. On Election Day last year, cameras were banned in Houston, Texas; Baytown, Texas; Anaheim, California; Garfield Heights, Ohio; and Mukilteo, Washington by votes of up to 73 percent against. In May 2010, 61 percent of Sykesville, Maryland voters overturned a speed camera ordinance. In 2009, eighty-six percent of Sulphur, Louisiana rejected speed cameras, 72 percent said no in Chillicothe, Ohio; Heath, Ohio and College Station, Texas also rejected cameras. In 2008, residents in Cincinnati, Ohio rejected red light cameras. Seventy-six percent of Steubenville, Ohio voters rejected photo radar in 2006. In the mid-1990s, speed cameras lost by a two-to-one margin in Peoria, Arizona and Batavia, Illinois. In 1997, voters in Anchorage, Alaska banned cameras even after the local authorities had removed them. In 2003, 64 percent of voters in Arlington, Texas voted down “traffic management cameras” that opponents at the time said could be converted into ticketing cameras.

      Need more reasons to say “no” — check out these references:

      Accidents Decrease After Red Light Cameras Removed
      May 11, 2011
      It has been five months since Houstonians voted against the use of red light cameras and to the surprise of Houston police administrators, accidents at these lights have decreased 16%. (
      In the five months after Houston voters forced city officials to turn off a camera surveillance system that fined motorists for running red lights, traffic accidents at those 50 intersections with 70 cameras have decreased 16 percent, according to recently released data.

      April 11, 2011 — North Carolina Just says no to Red Light Cameras
      A bill to ban red-light cameras from the state breezed through the Senate Transportation Committee Wednesday morning with no opposition.
      Sen. Don East, R-Surry, the bill’s primary sponsor, said as a former city cop in Winston-Salem he has always opposed the cameras. Now he wants to ban them.
      No officials from the city of Wilmington, which operates 13 red-light cameras, attended the committee hearing. No committee members spoke against the proposal.
      Star News

      L.A.’s red-light camera experiment appears to be coming to an end
      Published: Thursday, June 9, 2011 1:27 AM MDT
      LOS ANGELES (AP) — Officials expressed doubt Wednesday that the city council would take the rare step of intervening in a police oversight board’s decision to discontinue the city’s red-light traffic camera program. Los Angeles will become the largest U.S. city to join a national backlash against photo-enforcement programs.

      Rome GA Red Light Cameras Discontinued, Not Lucrative Enough
      The Rome City Manager is quoted as saying, “We covered our costs, but we didn’t cover theirs.” In other words, the city simply wasn’t able to collect enough fines from the cameras in order for the company to see a continued contract to be worth their while.
      Redflex also declined to renew contracts with Thomasville, Brunswick, and Bennet.

      City Pulls Plug on Red-light Cameras (Loma Linda CA Dec 2010)
      It was a failed experiment that many in the city of Loma Linda are glad has reached its end.
      Unexpected costs and negative community reaction doomed the city’s red light enforcement program, which had guarded four intersections until this month, when city officials decided to let their five-year-old contract with Redflex Traffic Systems expire. Loma Linda officials said the cameras did not impact traffic in their city, as they had hoped. By the end of the contract, the city owed Redflex several hundred thousand dollars, Peterson said. “The only way to alleviate the burden was to allow the contract to expire,” Peterson said. “In making their decision on the issue, the city council took this into consideration.”…”We are a camera-free zone,” Mayor Rhodes Rigsby said.

      Red light camera program discontinued in Jefferson Parish (Louisiana)
      Harahan : LA : USA | Jan 27, 2010 BY George Vieto 10
      Jefferson Parish Council President Chris Roberts announced Wednesday that due to “consultants” profiting from the revenues made from the money made by motorists who ran past red lights in Jefferson Parish the controversial red light traffic cameras that were placed in various intersections in Jefferson Parish would be discontinued effective at 1:00pm CST. The Jefferson Parish council voted unanimously discontinue the program on Wednesday and at the council meeting they will order the cameras removed from the traffic lights as soon as possible

      Council Pulls Plug on Red Light Cameras (Washington City Missouri)
      Washington City Council members voted Monday to end a three-year “experiment” of using cameras to catch violators who run red lights at two major intersections.
      The 6-to-2 vote to not renew the contract with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) came after a lengthy discussion even though it was clear early on that opponents had more than enough votes to kill the program.Rhodes said a “scatter diagram” of the causes of crashes outlined in the study shows that “85 percent” were caused by people following too close and inattention. He cited studies by “two colleges” which concluded that red light cameras aren’t a solution but do create accidents. “We put the lights in and continue to fleece people,” Rhodes said of the red light camera tickets. He was critical of ATS which he alleged has made campaign contributions to candidates who are proponents of red light cameras. He said with ATS “it’s really about profits,” not safety.

      Carolinas move to forbid ticket, speed cameras (April 2011)
      By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor
      A year ago, lawmakers approved legislation that requires tickets based solely on photos to be issued in person within an hour of the alleged violation.
      State lawmakers in South Carolina and North Carolina are now moving forward with efforts to put a stop to the use of cameras to enforce speed limits and traffic-light violations.
      In an effort to apply the brakes on a potential speed trap, the South Carolina Senate voted to approve a bill that is intended to put a stop to one town’s use of speed cameras.
      OOIDA leadership is encouraged to see legislative efforts to apply the brakes to use of the enforcement tool. The Association believes the focus on ticket cameras ignores the more logical and reasoned approach to roads and traffic. “The goal should be to keep traffic moving in as safe a manner as possible,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said.
      Spencer said communities would be better served to pursue “intelligent traffic lights that actually monitor traffic and are triggered by traffic flow.”

      Maine bans use of photo enforcement cameras
      June 29, 2009 Maine has enacted a law banning the use of red-light and speed cameras for traffic enforcement. A motivation for the law was the possibility that vehicle owners rather than drivers could be cited. The new law does not apply to the use of cameras that enforce highway toll payments.

      Arizona to discontinue speed camera program
      May 7, 2010 The state of Arizona is discontinuing its speed camera program. Redflex, the company providing the speed cameras, announced that its current contract will not be renewed. Although the contract runs through early 2011, Arizona will turn off the cameras on July 15th. Napolitano envisioned a system of up to 100 cameras that would generate $90 million in revenue a year. But the idea of the cameras as moneymakers drew strong criticism, and they did not meet revenue projections. After Brewer became governor last year, she appointed a new DPS director, Robert Halliday, who said photo enforcement’s reputation was damaged from the start after Napolitano publicly touted the program as a revenue generator.

      State orders red light cameras removed (New Mexico)
      Updated: Thursday, 18 Mar 2010, 5:22 PM MDT
      Published : Thursday, 18 Mar 2010, 5:22 PM MDT
      ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The state is ordering the city of Albuquerque to take down red light cameras at five intersections saying they’re not convinced the cameras make the streets safer.
      “The state transportation commission felt strongly that there is no clear cut evidence that they actually make the roads safer,” New Mexico Department of Transportation Spokesperson Mark Slimp said.Studies that say yes you may stop one kind of accident of inadvertently cause another when people slam on their brakes to not get a ticket,” Slimp said. Slimp said there are too many studies with conflicting information.

      In a 4-1 vote, the City Council gave the initial OK to repeal the red-light camera program.
      Hialeah City (FL) Council has given the preliminary OK to end the city’s red-light camera program, which issues civil citations to drivers caught on camera running through intersections.

      Red-light cameras in Schaumburg Il screech to a halt (2009)
      Critics say Schaumburg was more interested in collecting ticket money than improving safety…Schaumburg has called the whole thing off, citing no improvements in safety and a flood of angry-motorist grief, after red-light cameras at the village’s lone picture-snapping intersection netted more than $1 million in tickets. Bolingbrook turned off all its cameras in 2007

      Dallas Morning News – September 2009 – House votes to end Red Light Camera Use
      The House voted to end the use of cameras to catch drivers who run red lights. The cameras are in use by several North Texas cities, including Dallas, Garland, Plano, Richardson and Frisco. Opponents of the cameras argue that cities use them to raise revenue through tickets. They also say the cameras increase rear-end collisions and encroach on motorists’ privacy rights.

      Lubbock discontinues red light cameras after accidents increase 52% at intersections with cameras (Feb 2008)
      Lubbock is giving us some interesting insights on how many cities view red light cameras. They recently received a report on the first 6 months of operation. The results are so bad, the committee charged with overseeing the program is recommending it be discontinued. It is apparent that the cameras are not really improving public safety. Accidents at intersections with cameras are up by 52% while accidents at other intersections are down by 2.7%. The number of injuries is down, but one commenter on the study said that could be due to a number of factors, including the number of passengers in each vehicle. Right out of the gate, their program seems to be failing, and deserves to be discontinued.

      Accidents up near red-light cameras
      Kevin Roderick • November 10 2009 9:53 AM

      CBS 2’s David Goldstein and team got the data from the city and found that instead of fewer accidents, the number of traffic accidents has gone up at most of the Los Angeles intersections where red-light cameras have been installed. The cities of Montclair, Upland, El Monte and Fullerton have discontinued red-light cameras in part because of accidents, says CBS 2. “Huntington Beach broke its contract before it even officially began.”

  5. Yes, I have
    I sent it to the emails listed.
    To: MA Transportation Committee Members
    Senate Members,,,,,

    House Members,,,,,,,,,,,

    cc: Will Brownsberger,,

  6. Will – is there a hearing scheduled for H918?

    Rep. Kevin Honan, D-Brighton, has offered a bill – H918 – to allow communities to adopt ordinances permitting them to post cameras to nab red-light runners and speeders.

    The cameras snap pictures of offenders’ vehicle tags. Tickets are mailed to the vehicles’ owners, regardless of who was driving at the time.

    Violators would face up to $100 fines. Points would not be added to offenders’ licenses and insurance companies would not be notified.

    Advocates say the bill is about safety and using technology in a helpful way. Others say authorizing the use of cameras frees up police to address bigger issues.

    Opponents, including OOIDA, say that when state and local governments resort to the use of automated enforcement it is not about safety. It is about generating revenue. They say a better alternative would be to extend yellow times, or provide advance warning signs.

  7. Houston, We Have A Problem

    That iconic quote from the terrific 1995 movie Apollo 13 wasn’t exactly what astronauts Swigert, Jr. and Lovell uttered on that fateful space mission, but it persists in popular culture. And it appropriately describes the dysfunctional relationship between the City of Houston, TX and American Traffic Solutions (ATS), the hypervigilant red-light camera company that was given the boot last November by more than 340,000 Houston voters.

    In the months since the public dismissal of ATS’ services, the Houston story has taken on soap opera dimensions. In sequence of actual events:

    1. A federal judge ruled that the November camera referendum did not meet city requirements, and therefore the ballot results were invalid.
    2. Houston Mayor Annise Parker declined to challenge the judge’s ruling and ordered that the cameras be turned back on.
    3. Scores of city residents complained loudly to the mayor and city council members about the reactivation of the cameras.
    4. Parker got the message from her constituents – don’t you love when democracy works as it should? – and voiced her support for permanently removing the cameras. She urged the city council to vote accordingly on a corresponding resolution.
    5. ATS pledged to take the matter to court, threatening that “a legal battle that could cost the city in excess of $20 million.”
    6. Houston City Council has, at the time of this writing, delayed action on the resolution that would ban the use of red-light cameras, perhaps deterred by ATS’ aggressiveness.

    If this progression is giving you a mild headache, the pain probably doesn’t compare to the migraines that ATS executives must be feeling based on these recent developments:

    * Los Angeles waved goodbye to ATS cameras last month.
    * An ATS executive, who has since been dismissed from the company, was caught representing himself online as a local Mukilteo, WA resident – a very pro-camera resident, of course – while a petition demanding a public referendum on the use of red-light cameras was being circulated in the city.
    * There was attempted collusion with the Mukilteo mayor by the same ATS executive to head off the citizens’ petition.
    * A release of internal emails from the Lynnwood, WA police department brought to light: a) the police chief’s comments of how dependent the city is on the revenue from ATS ticket cameras, b) a police sergeant’s offer to help ATS with red-light camera marketing and lobbying efforts, and c) the deputy chief’s inquiries to ATS about job opportunities at the camera company while beginning negotiations for renewing the city’s camera contract with them.
    * A Washington Superior Court judge fined ATS $10,000 for interfering with the right of the public to petition their government. The judge’s action followed a lawsuit filed by the camera company that attempted to block grassroots efforts in the city of Bellingham to place an anti-camera initiative on the public ballot. The judge also ordered ATS to pay the legal fees of the initiative’s sponsors.
    * The Sun Sentinel in South Florida published an investigative report about the aggressive and misleading lobbying tactics used by ATS to secure more red-light camera contracts in the state.

    Please pardon us if we decide not to offer a sympathetic supply of ibuprofen to the staff of American Traffic Solutions. ?

  8. Faulty Photo Enforcement

    We present two stories of traffic injustice by camera. Of course, the ticket camera is just an inanimate object used as a tool to perpetrate the injustice. It is the camera companies and municipal/state bureaucrats who trampled on the rights of the motorists involved.

    The first tale may seem like a red-light camera urban myth, but as reported by a Miami, Florida television station, the story and the consequences were very real.

    This past May, Pedro Dominguez laid his mother to rest, but only after the funeral procession was ticketed by a red-light camera at the intersection of 135th Street and 27th Avenue in Opa-Locka, Florida.

    Video evidence showed three police officers, hired by the Dominguez family, stopping traffic and waving the procession through the intersection. No matter. Five vehicles received photo tickets at $158 apiece, including the limo transporting the grieving family members.

    Mr. Dominguez appealed the tickets with the camera company, American Traffic Solutions (where have we heard that name before?), and received a curt response: “The affidavit of non-responsibility did not establish an exemption and will not result in a dismissal or a transfer of the violation at this time.”

    A South Florida investigative reporter got involved and verified that local law permits vehicles to pass through a red light if directed to do so by a police officer.

    After the case became highly publicized, an Opa-Locka police sergeant took another look at the video, agreed that the police officers directing the funeral procession were clearly visible, and dismissed the tickets.

    The second tale occurred about as far away from Opa-Locka as is possible while still being within the continental United States. A Beaverton, Oregon resident forwarded his tale of frustration to the NMA.

    After donating a car to Volunteers of America and receiving new registration papers in the mail, the philanthropist dutifully contacted the Oregon DMV to make sure they recognized the car had a new owner. There was no acknowledgement from the state agency.

    That was two years ago. Recently, our frustrated friend received a summons in the mail with photo evidence purporting that the car in question had run a red light.

    After several unsuccessful attempts to clarify why the ticket shouldn’t be his and a refusal to pay the ticket, the Beaverton man had his driver license revoked by the state.

    Ultimately, a judge wrote a letter to clear up the situation, but because the letter on the judge’s official stationery wasn’t notarized, the Oregon DMV initially refused to accept it. No good deed goes… well, you know.

    It is interesting that whenever we mention one of our primary objections to photo enforcement — that the cameras do not positively identify the driver, making the vehicle owner legally guilty unless he/she can prove otherwise — the pro-camera lobby says that is a nonissue because the owner still has the right to appear in court to clear things up.

    In other words, that pesky “innocent until proven guilty” bedrock principle of the American justice system isn’t important as long as the accused can have his/her day in court.

    We know of a couple of innocent folks in Opa-Locka, Florida and Beaverton, Oregon who, while vindicated in the final analysis, would have a thing or two to say about that cavalier assessment

  9. Gotcha! When Politicians Do Good (

    At the NMA we spend a lot of time documenting the misinformation, demagoguery and outright hypocrisy that pervade the pronouncements of public officials when it comes to red-light cameras.

    So when we catch politicians doing right by their constituents on camera issues, we feel duty-bound to report it.

    Take Syracuse, New York, for example. The City Council recently voted down a red-light camera program after reviewing data from a mobile camera trial.

    Commenting on the decision, mayoral spokesperson Bill Ryan pointed to the legal and financial debacles other cities have experienced as a result of their own misguided camera programs. “As other cities are running away from this, why would we run into it?” he asked.

    Ryan added that the review committee was not convinced cameras would have much impact on intersection safety and that it would be unfair to burden residents with more costs in a tough economy.

    We would like to think that Syracuse’s decision was the result of the NMA’s “$10,000 Ticket Camera Challenge,” which we reissued in a national press release before Thanksgiving to shine a spotlight on the turmoil created by red-light cameras.

    But more likely it’s a refreshing example of officials holding themselves accountable to their constituents.

    Syracuse is not alone.

    In October, Colorado Springs, Colorado dumped its red-light camera program after only one year of operation. Mayor Steve Bach said the program didn’t improve safety, and Police Chief Pete Carey said accidents may have actually increased after the cameras went up.

    But of all of the cities that have rejected red-light cameras recently, none has been more explicit about its reasoning than Laguna Niguel, California.

    Influenced by the negative experiences of other cities and by studies showing how ticket cameras increase accidents, the city ordinance banning cameras states the following:

    Despite being touted as promoting public safety, there is insufficient evidence to show that red light automated traffic enforcement systems actually accomplish this goal.
    Red light automated traffic enforcement systems’ primary accomplishment has been to increase revenues, not traffic safety.
    The City Council finds that the installation of red light automated traffic enforcement systems do not serve a significant public purpose and specifically not the stated public purpose.

    Couldn’t have said it better ourselves

Comments are closed.