ATE Racket Report for January 21, 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 12-18, 2019…

A new report from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association shows a divide between rural, urban US on speed limits and related deaths. The report calls for more speed cameras of course, and utilizing ideas from Vision Zero, which is basically traffic calming and road diets. Our friends at TheNewspaper.com did an analysis of the report which makes for some interesting reading.

TheNewspaper.com also posted this shameful indictment: Australia Lets Redflex Off The Hook

A coalition of 84 civil rights, immigrant rights and human rights groups have joined together in a coalition to ask Google and Microsoft to not sell face recognition programs to governments. This is probably a wait and see! Popular Science posted this story on face recognition: Artificial intelligence thinks your face is full of data. Could it actually unmask you?

Help out Muckrock and the Electronic Frontier Foundation: How are police departments using license plate reader technology? Your feedback is helping us find out

The latest stories on the Yellow Vest Protests in France:

Wait and See…

The New Brunswick, Canada Public Safety Minister wants to know the downside of red-light cameras before he makes any directional decision. Just read our issues page and you will understand the downside of this policing for profit/taxation by citation system, Sir!

Elsewhere in Canada, the staff for the city of Guelph, Ontario recently reported to the city council that the city doesn’t need any RLCs. Now, up to the council members…let’s hope they listened!

Also, this: Toronto, Canada: Photo radar makes comeback this year–700 Locations eligible for speed cams

Apparently, a motorist case against red-light cameras in Alabama did not go well recently: Alabama Drivers’ Fight of Red-Light Cameras Likely Headed into Skid; 11th Circuit Court Hears the Case

The city of Cecilton, Maryland may be the first in the county to install a speed camera. The mayor feels speeding has become a problem on Main Street and the sheriff’s office has too much to patrol as it is. Also, Thurmont, MD city commissioners debated this week installing speed camera near schools.

As part of a Vision Zero Plan draft, the city of Charlotte, NC wants to add speed cameras to city streets but not red-light cameras even though they are keeping that possibility open. RLCs were a mainstay between 1998 and 2006. The city suspended the program after a court ruled that the city would need to give nearly all the proceeds to schools. The public safety committee will meet in February to decide if the plan will go forward to the city council for a vote.

A whole lot of back and forth is going on in the battle over making New York City one giant speed camera speed trap. Last week, in his yearly budget, Governor Andrew Cuomo indicated he planned to double the speed cameras in NYC. Council Speaker Corey Johnson appeared later to say thanks but no thanks because he plans to push a bill that would allow unlimited cameras. No word from Mayor Bill de Blasio, except his troubles with Whoopi Goldberg on the national morning show The View. He was there to talk about how great his programs were and she wasn’t having any of that—she wanted to know why he is making the city undrivable:

Could speed cameras become a staple in Cincinnati, Ohio again? Ten years ago, voters decided to ban the cams and instead required that officers issue tickets in person. The same council member who is pushing Vision Zero in the city is now proposing that ban be overturned. City leaders will apparently begin meeting with community groups to determine if they can amend the City Charter to put the vote to bring the cams back on the ballot. #BANtheCamsForever!

Apparently, lawyers continue to fight the city of New Miami on how much they actually owe motorists due to interest accrued from the fines given: Sides in New Miami speed camera case fighting over even more funds

The Texas Legislature meets every two years and started the current session earlier this month. Already, three bills have been introduced concerning red-light cameras. SB 77 and HB 262 would outright ban RLCs and HB 537 would mandate that cities would be required to conduct an independent engineering study at least once every five years after camera implementation. The study could help determine if an alternative solution would be more effective (such as longer yellow light timings) in reducing red light violations. Cities are already required to conduct a study before cams are installed which apparently very few have done…hence, a number of upcoming court cases. Governor Greg Abbott wants to ban the cams so it will be interesting to see if lawmakers get anywhere this time.

Seattle city officials are still looking at how they can use cameras to catch motorists who block the box, crosswalks or transit lanes (bus lanes).

Bad News…

In England, the newest automated camera has come online and the Brits are aptly naming them “Yellow Vulture Cams,” which have been designed to spy and report (i.e. sending a ticket) on motorists who appear distracted while driving. Here is a great headline from the Mirror newspaper: UK: How to spot new ‘yellow vulture’ speed camera that can even fine you for smoking

This is bad news in the sense that these devices are there…nothing new though in the report: MAP: 12 red-light cameras in City of Phoenix, AZ

The city of Holmes Beach, Florida has clarified their automated license plate reader contracts. The city plans to contract for five cameras because the police want to connect with other departments utilizing the system.

Why do small town papers try to put a smile on ALPRs?–Surveillance cameras dot area roadways recording license plates in Washington County, NY

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

The GHSA report ignores the facts:

1) Accidents cause by speed are 2% to 7% of the total;
2) Posted limits have almost no effect on actual travel speeds;
3) Boston’s reduction of 30 limits to 25 produced actual changes in mean and 85th speeds of 0.0 mph, and
4) “Speeding-related” accident numbers would drop to about 5% to 7% of the total IF limits were set for safety instead of being set to facilitate for-profit speed trap rackets.

Hopefully the yellow vest protests will force the French government to make real changes.

New Brunswick’s examination of the negatives of red-light cameras should stop their use. Ontario in general and Toronto in particular have always been in favor of deliberately improper and less-safe posted speed limits to facilitate for-profit speed trap rackets. Residents need to peacefully revolt to say NO, as they did some years ago to force the end of photo radar.

Maryland is another venue addicted to the loot from ticket camera rackets. Residents need to constantly contact officials to object, and vote out the supporting ones.

A plain language reading of North Carolina law says 90% of the GROSS proceeds from RLCs must go to schools, a requirement that makes then financially unviable.

Whoopi Goldberg told the truth about bike lanes. City officials and Streetsblog writers are having a tough time facing the truth that many residents and visitors sharply oppose the efforts of state and local officials to erect more predatory for-profit ticket cameras.   We need more recognizable voices like Whoopi’s to keep making those points.

If ticket cameras are considered again for Cincinnati, they need to have another public vote – which would almost certainly change the losses for cameras from 37 of 41 to 38 of 42.

Texas and Florida have better legislative chances to ban cameras this year. NMA members need to support those bills with their state Representatives, Senators and the Governors.

The UK report on spotting different speed cameras is useful, but they failed to note the most important thing – the cams are located in speed traps with less-safe artificially-low limits.

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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