ATE Racket Report for December 12, 2018

The ATE Racket Report is a weekly feature of the NMA blog. We want to bring the issues of automated traffic enforcement to our supporters in a more coherent up-to-date fashion.  

Compiled by NMA Foundation Director James C. Walker and NMA Communications Director Shelia Dunn.

This Week…

We don’t think we have ever seen this before. Microsoft’s President Brad Smith last week called on governments around the world to immediately start working on laws to regulate facial-recognition technology. He has some great points and we applaud him for his efforts but is too little too late?

Coming out soon and already posted online, The New Yorker Magazine has a new article on facial recognition: Should We Be Worried about Computerized Facial Recognition?

CityLab.com posted a story last week on Who’s Tracking Your License Plate? The writer equates ALPRs to the same as Face Recognition except drivers are issued plates by the government and already know that they can be tracked.

Engineering 360 (IEEE) did an admirable debate post on Red-Light Cameras—NMA is mentioned briefly as opposing RLCs—Yes, indeed we do!

Our friends at TheNewspaper.com posted this story last week: South Florida Cities Face Red-Light Camera Legal Trouble. Reported in last week’s ATE Report, city of Tamarac has dismissed all RLC tickets prior to May 1st. A Miami-Dade County Judge has also found that 16 different cities within the county are currently violating state law due to the different rules of how they define infractions.

Wait and See…

The Yellow Vests Protests continue in France and has spread to other nearby EU countries and Iran. A little underreported story about the protests: French public is pushing back on speed cameras.

Bad News…

Apparently, city of Denver officials have decided to put more red-light cameras at intersections and purchase and use an additional photo radar van. Weirdly enough, the state DOT has blocked the city from putting RLCs at what the city police say are the most dangerous intersections. These streets are state highways and Vision Zero folks are unhappy because it hurts their program.

Police in Boynton Beach, FL have decided to use Facebook as a teaching tool by showcasing red-light camera violators. Why does this just seem kind of icky?

More speed cameras are headed to Staten Island, NY (one of the five boroughs of NYC)—the whole island will soon be an automated speed trap if it is not already.

Speaking of NY:  Out on Long Island, Suffolk County officials have decided to waive traffic ticket late fees (including automated camera tickets) because they are intensely interested in collecting the cash—up to $45 million dollars-worth from traffic ticket holders.

NMA’s City/State Lists of RLCs and Speed Cameras

The NMA has compiled a list of which states and cities are using red-light and speed cameras. This may not be a complete list and please send any additions or subtractions to the nma@motorists.org for updating the list.

Jim Walker’s ATE Commentary of the Week

In so many ways our privacy is heavily threatened – or gone entirely.

Automated license plate readers can be very useful to law enforcement to find stolen vehicles, vehicles linked to crimes under investigation, vehicles linked to wanted criminals, etc. These are all very legitimate uses of plate readers, ones that everyone should support. BUT, plates that do not “get a hit” on any of the lists to be watched for should be deleted from the database in a short period of time. It is wrong for governments to track the travels of innocent motorists. And private industry should be prohibited from using them for any purpose.

Facial recognition technology should have the same restrictions. If it helps apprehend wanted criminals or identify people suspected of crimes, that is great. But no database should be permitted after a short period of time if the faces didn’t “get a hit”. And private industry should be prohibited from using them for anything other than tracking criminals.

Legal issues for speed and red-light cameras are leading to more public recognition that they are mostly revenue programs, and ones that have sometimes been used illegally when the cities and camera companies flaunt the laws regulating their use. Overall, ticket camera programs are losing favor with the public as scams, not safety programs.

Whenever cities like Boynton Beach or camera companies like ATS – now Verra Mobility – show videos of terrible red-light violation accidents, they make OUR point.  The videos show the violators entered the intersections several seconds into the red phase because they never recognized the lights were red. But most of the tickets go to safe drivers tricked into split second violations where the yellow intervals were left or set slightly too short for the actual conditions.

James C. Walker is a life member of the National Motorists Association. He is also a board member and executive director of the National Motorists Association Foundation.

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