ATE Racket Report for February 18, 2019

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.

For The Week of February 9-15, 2019

A new report coming out of Florida categorically states that red-light cameras hinder drivers. A TV station also did an investigation on RLCs: Following the money: Company that owns red-light cameras contributed over $1M into Florida politics

ThyBlackMan.com blog released a well-researched post on how red-light cameras are a menace to poor and urban Americans.

Even though it is now a moot point since the Senate voted for US Attorney General William Barr, the Washington Examiner editorialized that Barr loves warrantless surveillance instead of civil liberties.

Reason.com ran a post on San Francisco’s Accidental Surveillance State and the Future of Privacy.

In International News:

Montreal, Canada has rejected body cameras for their police force.  The reason—operating the cameras are too expensive.

The Newspaper.com reported on the French situation:  French Speed Camera Attacks Diminish and the New York Times wrote this editorial concerning the Yellow Vests Protests:  Flashing Yellow Light in France

Wait and See

Iowa lawmakers start talking again about banning the cams: Debate over Traffic Enforcement Cameras Revives in Iowa

Maryland highway agency didn’t properly monitor speed cameras, snow removal contracts, audit finds— So what will the state do now?

Tennessee School Bus Stop Arm Cams have been proposed: Tennessee Bill would allow schools to add cameras to the outside of school buses

Finally, some news coverage on the Red-Light Camera Ban Filed in Texas House (HB1631) and here is another article of interest: Don’t like red-light cameras? These Texas lawmakers don’t either — and want to ban them.

We like logo of the Advocates who want to Ban the Cams

Bad News

So much bad news this week, we will just list it all until the last one which is the most heinous:

Then we come to Virginia: Virginia House, Senate endorse first speed cameras in Virginia. The NMA is quite diligent in keeping track of bills like this but this one really slipped under the radar and has already landed on the Governor’s desk. Here is TheNewspaper.com’s account of the shenanigans! We believe these are dragon cams that will be used by police in work zones and the police can decide to stop the offender or just automatically mail out a ticket. This is shenanigans at the highest level!

Commentary from NMA Foundation Executive Director James C. Walker

Serious press objections to red-light cameras started when the NMA and others helped Noah Pransky of 10News Tampa find the skeletons in the closet about how the racket works. Now many press outlets are reporting the newest annual report that the cameras are not improving safety and asking why to keep them. Another Tampa area outlet chased down the $1 million+ contributions to legislators from the for-profit camera companies. And a great piece of news, a Tampa candidate for mayor wants to end the cameras – unlike the long term mayor who is totally in the pockets of their camera provider.

Many news outlets and officials are being more vocal about how high fines and fees can cause economic damage to lower income people – and demanding changes so licenses do not get suspended when people cannot pay. Remember, NMA Founder Jim Baxter once proposed that traffic tickets have NO financial costs, only points on the person’s driver’s license. THAT would completely end enforcement for profits because there would be no profits.

Maryland has been sloppy about auditing the work zone camera program AND is often unconcerned when cities place cameras to optimize profits rather than safety. The State Highway Administration talks a good game about only wanting safety, but fails to actually act that way.

Red-light cameras remain banned in Connecticut, with substantial thanks to the ACLU which has helped block bills to allow them in many legislative sessions.

Note the citizen suppression move in Vidalia to require advance notice when a citizen wants to speak at their council meetings. They want time for council members to prepare ways to combat citizen objections.

Virginia has always been among the most predatory states for speed enforcement.  81 mph in a 70 zone on a freeway is technically an offense that can carry time in jail (rarely used that way). Now they want cameras on work zones which are typically posted with limits well below the safe travel speeds.

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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