ATE Racket Report for January 7, 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. 

Since December 21, 2018 until January 4, 2019…

The 2018 Florida Red-Light Camera Report is out and TheNewspaper.com wrote that the report shows NO red-light camera benefit. This is the third annual report showing higher crash rates at camera intersections.  For several years, bills to ban the cameras statewide have passed the Florida House, but were killed in Senate committees by not allowing them to reach the Senate floor where they would almost certainly have passed.  We hope the tide will turn in 2019 to finally ban them. Other RLC Cities should take heed! 

Some More Great News!The Denver City Council has decided to not contract any more red-light cameras after city councilman Kevin Flynn along with his wife spent a Saturday using a stop watch at the intersections to test the yellow lights. Flynn was able to convince the other council members that just changing the yellow timing at these intersections will make them safer and reduce red-light running.

Other headlines from Denver:

Here is what James C. Walker said after the surprise decision last Wednesday.

Jim Lissner of highwayrobbery.net sent a list of quotes from CA cities that had dropped red-light cameras to Denver officials (attached) – as part of a rationale to not expand their camera systems.  It seems to have worked really well – to help officials see the issues in real light.

I added this comment to the 4CBS Denver article:

This is great news, and Councilman Kevin Flynn has it right. The true answers to safety at traffic lights, and almost everywhere else, lie in correcting engineering errors and problems. Giving people tickets for revenue when the engineering errors and problems have not been corrected is a program to collect revenue, at the expense of deliberately not improving safety. See our website for a lot of information on traffic safety with correct traffic engineering – instead of using ticket cameras from for-profit companies for revenue.

The next step should be to examine and correct any engineering errors and problems at all the existing sites where traffic cameras are used.  It is likely those cameras can be removed after the issues are corrected and safety improves without ticketing so many drivers for revenue.

The NMA encourages more city council members to do the same—they will then understand what the real issue is about red-light cameras—money generators from generally responsible drivers.

Another most excellent headline from Colorado that we already knew about: Aurora, Colorado Removes Red-Light Cameras That Generated $2M a Year

Our very own James C. Walker had an editorial placed in Bakersfield, CA entitled: Red-light cameras seem to have a different purpose

TheNewspaper.com reported that RLC critic Mats Jarlstrom has won his First Amendment Right case in Oregon. A state board tried to use occupational licensing laws to silence Jarlstrom when he criticized red-light cameras based on engineering principles. The judge ruled the following:

Jarlstrom may study, communicate publicly about, and communicate privately about, his theories relating to traffic lights as long as plaintiff Jarlstrom’s communications occur outside the context of an employment or contractual relationship.

Here are some other headlines that might be of interest:

Apopka joins other Central Florida towns doing away with red-light cameras

Google vows not to sell its facial recognition technology for now

French Protesters Running Out Of Speed Cameras To Burn (TheNewspaper.com). Editor’s Note: The NMA does not condone violence of any kind against automated traffic enforcement.

Also, here is this headline from Automotive News Europe:  French sales plunge 15% in December amid ‘yellow vest’ protests

Wait and See…

City of Los Angeles is suing the Weather Channel app for covertly data location mining users.

With the New Year, Apopka, the first central Florida city to install RLCs—has ushered them out of the city. Newly-elected state Representative Anthony Sabatini is hoping to do the same in the state legislature by introducing HB6003 to repeal the 2010 legislation authorizing Florida’s cities to use RLC’s. A state lawmaker has tried to repeal this law before…will Sabatini’s bill make the difference?

As the Chicago mayoral race heats up, one large talking point is getting rid of or reducing RLCs and speed cameras. Over the Holidays, Chicago Transportation Commission Rebekah Scheinfeld told the Chicago Sun-Times that more people will die if these devices are removed. She added:

“It’s a cheap political thing…It’s an easy kind of reflexive thing. But that’s coming from an uninformed perspective. A lot of people have sort of a knee-jerk reaction to them and aren’t actually familiarizing themselves with the facts.”

Please—the city of Chicago should hardly be talking since there has been scandal after scandal after scandal with automated traffic enforcement. I think people are learning the facts and are realizing what a complete money-grab these devices really are in the Windy City. Definitely a wait and see on who will become mayor.

Bad News…

Grand Junction, CO announced that they will be placing more automated license plate readers in the city. Police plan to use them for detecting stolen vehicles. Marietta, GA is also bringing in more ALPRs for neighborhood watch purposes.

The news is never good coming out of Baltimore regarding ATE. TheNewspaper.com reported in late December that an audit just completed from 2014 states that speed cameras generated 24,237 bogus tickets. That means that drivers who were not speeding received speeding tickets. Ouch! Over the ten month period audited, the speed cams generated $7.1M in revenue. Under Baltimore’s contract with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) at the time (now Verra Mobility), the vendor must pay $20 for each bogus ticket created once it crosses the erroneous threshold of five percent. Anyone think this will happen?

Guess what? On Friday, December 28, 2018, the city of Baltimore turned on even more ATEs to monitor speed, RLCs and even commercial vehicle height. Many of the speed cameras went to school zones which will operate year-round from 6 AM to 8 PM. five more intersections have been fitted with RLCs and three streets that have been declared truck-restricted have been fitted with vehicle height cameras. First offense for a truck that is too tall: $125 and each subsequent offense is $250 each.

Pawtucket, RI officials announced in late December that they have hired Gatso-USA to add cameras at several intersections and school zones. The city proclaims that the program will be revenue-neutral and will only be used as a public safety program.

Yet another Seattle newspaper story pushing bus lane cameras…how many does this make now?

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

Note that Denver Councilman Kevin Flynn was formerly a reporter in Denver. The NMA, Jay Beeber of Saferstreetsla.org and Jim Lissner of highwayrobbery.net were all in contact with him for some time as he exposed the true nature of cameras in his articles.  It took several years of hard work, but he finally got good results in getting the police and engineering departments to re-evaluate the yellow light timing in the city.

The vote to remove the cameras in Aurora, CO was the 37th loss in 41 public votes for red-light and/or speed cameras.  It is why cities fight hard to not have votes – they lose.

Mats Jarlstrom’s win versus the engineering board in Oregon took a long time, but he refused to just take back his unjustified $500 fine. Mats persisted until the courts said he was legally right and the board can no longer issue such sanctions to anyone.

Apopka, FL had an interesting history with red-light cameras. They recognized the yellows were too short and lengthened them briefly, with a sharp drop in violations. But the Florida Department of Transportation blackmailed them into restoring the shorter times by threatening to withhold some highway funds. Finally they are gone.

I emailed the Sun-Times reporter about the false claim that more people would die if Chicago’s cameras were removed.

Dear Ms. Spielman, 

Chicago uses improperly short yellow intervals on the lights to deliberately and sharply increase the number of inadvertent and harmless split-second violations of the red lights of less than one second into the red.  Note that people who violate the red by up to one second present zero crash risks because they clear the intersections during the all-red phase plus the short start up delay for the cross traffic to actually enter the intersections.  It is almost certain Chicago could reduce the violation rates by a minimum of 60% and more likely by about 80% by adding one second to the yellows.  Any official who does not insist on adding that second and claims the goal is to reduce violation rates is simply not telling the truth.  Chicago even kept $7.7 million dollars for violations recorded with 2.9 second yellow intervals which is below the absolute minimum yellow time in the federal and state Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.  Any city with any honor would have given all that money back for using yellows too short for the federal minimums. 

Involving for-profit ticket camera companies in any form of traffic enforcement guarantees the true purpose is profits, not safety.  It is why many states make ticket cameras illegal and many more never authorized them.  Profits are absolutely the wrong motive for enforcement. 

Respectfully submitted, 

James C. Walker
Life Member, National Motorists Association 

Baltimore’s ticket cameras rackets keep producing garbage.  Two prior contractors were thrown out for abjectly inaccurate cameras or complete incompetence. One poster child was a speeding ticket for 38 mph in a 25 zone issued to a car that the video showed was stopped at a red light. The “careful reviews” of videos by camera and police personnel before tickets are issued are sometimes a ludicrous joke – except to the innocent people who get robbed.  And what moral person should believe that issuing tickets to up to 5% of innocent people is OK?  It is not, it is robbery.

The NMA emailed Pawtucket, RI officials the truths about red-light cameras.  We will see if it slows or stops their plan to install them.

Not an NMA Member yet?

Join today and get these great benefits!

Leave a Comment