ATE Racket Report for January 14, 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. 

The Week of January 5-11, 2019…

Russia Today posted this story this week: Ready for Big Brother? Americans increasingly accept unrestricted facial recognition tech.

The protests over the gas tax and other draconian measures continues in France. Here are two stories of interest:

Editor’s Note: The NMA does not condone violence of any kind against automated traffic enforcement.

This is a bizarre story—this actually happened months ago and the station is just now reporting on it, but still good news:  Red-light cameras pulled from all Opelika, Alabama intersections.

Location tracking is now cool? Never in our book–How an App Is Changing the Way Flagstaff, Arizona Fights Traffic.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell deactivated most of the city’s red-light cameras at the beginning of the year which is a good thing…the bad thing—she didn’t deactivate all of them. When a TV crew was doing a story on turning off the cameras, a car crash occurred in front of the camera.

The story of Oregon resident Mats Jarlstrom five-year long fight against red-light cameras continues to have legs (which is a good thing)…here is the latest from The Truth about Cars website.

Always excited to see a convert against RLCs: Why I just joined the growing Red-Light Camera Contempt Club.

Wait and See…

A lawmaker will again try once again to push a bill to ban red-light cameras in Florida. Representative Anthony Sabatini from Howey-in-the-Hills has proposed a new bill that would no longer allow any municipalities in the state to operate the cameras. He has taken his inspiration from the city of Apopka, the first city to turn these cameras and recently decided to turn them off.  Florida legislative session begins in March.

Here is a wait and see: Rhode Island Bill (H5402) Would Limit ALPR Use, Help Block National License Plate Tracking Program.

This is a crazy story that everyone should read to understand…It has to do with a motorist who received a school bus camera ticket in the Austin, Texas area.  Guess who the cam company was that issued the ticket? If you guessed the disgraced Bus Patrol, you would be right—this is the company that helped bankrupt the Dallas Independent School District last year. Now, what shenanigans is the company up to now?

Bad News…

Motorola Solutions acquires a license plate recognition company–This means that bigger companies see the dollar signs off the backs of motorists…expect more of this consolidation to come.

Arizona: Sahuarita’s ‘tattle-tale’ lights help cops do their job  — the tattle-tale lights are not automated (yet) but they do let police know if the light has turned red.

Installation of Colorado Springs red light cameras delayed by permits, construction—this is still bad news because the city will still be putting these up.

Wallingford, CT police want to buy automatic license plate reader – The Police Chief insists that this “other pair of eyes” can help his department find more stolen cars and persons of interest…he could be right but in the article there is no mention how long the data of every car will be kept.

District of Columbia is ramping up street safety measures for the New Year – means more automated traffic enforcement unfortunately!

Editorial: Thanks Lakeland, Florida PD for welcome relief from the red-light camera menace –Please—this is so-pro red-light cams…editorial writers—you cannot have it both ways.

Chicago police roll out more cars equipped with ‘license plate reader’ technology – 200 more….Is Chicago now the most automated traffic enforced large city in America? If not number one, surely in the top five!

Maryland: More speed cameras and enforcement demanded for road where three kids died – Speed cameras do not prevent accidents, folks!

License Plate Readers Come To Ocean City, Maryland –Police Chief reports the city now has an ALPR at every entrance and exit to the city!

Average of about 8 drivers cited daily by Hagerstown, MD red-light cameras in first 9 months –Cams went live in March 2018 and from March to November, the city issued 2,144 tickets generating $157,575 or 8 tickets per day for about $580 in fines. Tickets are $75. A city council member said that he believes most tickets are given for drivers executing the “California Stop,” which is turning right on red without coming to a complete stop before turning. Ticket money goes into the city’s general fund earmarked for police. The city is currently analyzing some state routes that come through the city where cams could be placed.

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

Much of the battle for privacy has been lost because opposition formed too late to be really effective – “The cat is out of the bag”. But wherever we have the ability to object, we should speak out. Collecting private information on the sites and apps we use on the internet should be an “opt in” choice, NOT an “opt out” requirement.

The French are far more volatile than Americans. While we do not condone violence or vandalism, there is some chance the fierce opposition may cause the French government to back down a bit. The default 80 kph (50 mph) on minor rural highways is WAY too low in many places, and the drivers are right to object.

Kudos to the police chief in Opelika, AL for admitting the cameras increased the crash rates – and agreeing they should be removed.

Using smart phone locations to help traffic engineers in Flagstaff is a proper use of that data, but many other uses are improper.

I added my comment for the NMA on the Mats Jarlstrom story.

Mats Jarlstrom is one of many people and groups that have been fighting the for-profit rackets of red-light cameras that use deliberately faulty and less safe engineering parameters to literally rob mostly safe drivers for harmless split second violations CAUSED by the deliberately faulty engineering. It is a great victory for truth.

Nationwide, the for-profit rackets of red-light cameras are losing. CA has only 29 active programs in a state that once had 105 programs. NJ ended a 5 year program when no safety benefits were seen. Florida just release the 2017-2018 annual camera report, at least the third such report, that showed increased crash rates at camera intersections – proof the rackets are NOT about safety, but instead about $$$$$$$$. It is just a matter of time to end these for-profit rackets in every state.

Opposition to red-light cameras is strong in Texas and Florida. Texas Governor Abbott openly supports legislation to ban the cameras. For at least the third time, the annual Florida report showed the cameras increase crash rates and some of the Senators who were “in the pockets” of the camera companies have left the Florida legislature. Bills to ban the cameras have better chances for passage in 2019 than in previous years.

The ALPR bill in Rhode Island contains features we support prohibiting governments from retaining databases of travels on license plates which did not “get a hit” as one being sought for a reason related to crime investigations.

The “tattle tale” blue lights allowing one officer to monitor red light violations are FAR better than a camera system. Officers are in a position to see if the violations were harmless or not, and that gives them the opportunity to educate rather than cite drivers.

District is ramping up street safety measures for the new year”

Truthful translation: The District is unhappy with the total amount of loot from their predatory for-profit speed and red-light cameras, so officials are adding more cameras for more total loot.

The Lakeland editorial defending red-light cameras of course fails to mention that the Florida Department of Transportation forbids cities from setting the correct length yellow intervals on most traffic lights for minimum violations and maximum safety. WHY??? Could it possibly be that the state gets an $83 sales commission on each $158 ticket to mostly safe drivers??????

Baltimore: “More speed cameras and enforcement demanded for road where three kids died”

Truthful translation: We know more speed cameras are NOT effective against drunk drivers, but this tragic accident gives us an excuse to up the amount of loot taken from mostly safe drivers.

The Hagerstown data shows the cameras were well located to produce high profits, netting about $12,000 profit per camera per month after expenses of about $5,000 per camera per month. Councilman Kristin Aleshire knows, or should know, that right on red turns including those with or without a stop are involved in only six one-hundredths of one percent (0.06% or 0.0006) of crashes with injuries or fatalities per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Report to Congress.

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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