ATE Racket Report for November 21, 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…

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Muckrock teamed up to extract details of 200 US cities automated license plate reader (ALPR) programs. Using the Freedom of Information Act, the programs under the microscope accounted for 2.5 billion license scans, with 95 percent of those license plates under no suspicion of wrongdoing. Even worse—data collection in each program was shared with an average of 160 other agencies.

Formerly American Traffic Solutions or ATS, Verra Mobility announced this past week that they are changing tactics. They told investors that the company will now focus on school bus cameras.  Tolling represents about 65 percent of the company’s income with a 32 percent increase in revenue for third quarter 2018. The ATE business saw only an eight percent increase compared to the third quarter 2017.

A study was widely circulated regarding data of driving behavior near schools. Zendrive is a proponent of Vision Zero. Trying to justify more school zone and school bus stop arm cams it looks like to us!

Grants Pass, Oregon will now not install any red-light cameras after a survey. Apparently, the cameras would actually lose money and we can’t have that!

Over the weekend, motorists in France protested against speed cameras and gas taxes/prices. Probably angry too that it will soon be impossible to drive due with the lowering of the speed limits and getting rid of old cars in the city centers such as Paris.

Wait and See…

New Orleans Police announced that the department will increase traffic enforcement as some of the speed/RLC cameras come down. We’ll have to wait and see on this one. In Kenner, Louisiana (the state’s fifth largest city) officials are now considering putting in automated speed cameras.

Baltimore County wants more RLCs and speed cameras to the cost of $21 million. Will anyone be able to drive safely through this county and city anymore with all the cameras everywhere? Yikes!

In Nevada, another TV Report on Driver Beware—Red-light cameras might be coming to an intersection near you! A bill indeed might be coming to the state of only 3 million. We need to fight this—a legislative alert will be coming soon!

Speaking of legislative bills, the scamera lawmakers of Texas are planning on introducing a bill that would allow Texas cities to keep running Red-Light cameras if and when taxation by citation machines are banned.  Many Texas towns have pushed long-term contracts so they can stay on the money grubbing gravy train.  This has got to be stopped and those lights need to be banned this coming legislative session or it’s another two years since lawmakers only meet every other year.

Bad News…

If you drive in Los Angeles, CA, the cops apparently can track your every move with ALPRs.  Yikes! The city council of Highland, CA (near San Bernardino) voted recently to replace their already obsolete automated license plate reader.

In Florida, Lakeland’s city council voted this week to use some of their red-light camera fine money to move their Confederate monument even though the council many months ago voted to move the statue with private funds. The local paper wrote an editorial about the fact that the town’s RLC money should have a dedicated purpose. We say ban them all together!

Waterloo, Iowa workers are prepping their city’s new cams to be turned on the day after Thanksgiving.

In the UK, a camera was introduced this week that can catch drivers from 1000 meters away (one Kilometer). The Long Ranger produces clear enough video footage and/or photos of folks inside the vehicle and will be used by police to tackle speeding, tailgating and phone usage by drivers. The police are currently testing the device on four major roadways near Gloucestershire in a pilot project called Operation Indemnis. No word yet if this is an automated Dragon Cam (a speed camera handheld by police that sends out automated tickets).

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

Verra Mobility, formerly ATS (which should be known as Automated Theft Systems), will focus on school bus cameras. WHY is that?  It is because of the severe backlash against the for-profit speed and red-light camera rackets and the many systems that are being discontinued with the backlash. The 41st public vote was in Aurora, Colorado and the cameras have lost 37 of the votes or over 90%.

Grants Pass won’t have cameras because the violation rates are too low. That MIGHT mean they time their traffic lights for safety, not for revenue. Every city should time for safety & minimum violations.

The Zendrive study measured hard braking as a negative for safety – even though many instances would be to avoid hitting a pedestrian foolish enough to step out into traffic. “Surveys” like that one are in no way legitimate traffic safety research – they are biased and cherry picked data to justify more for-profit enforcement.

If New Orleans actually increases officer enforcement, that could help safety.  Kenner officials are after the for-profit revenues from the speed camera racket.

Several Texas legislators are “in the pocket” of the for-profit ticket camera racket companies and are trying to protect them.  Hopefully the Governor’s opposition to the cameras will prevail.

It is utterly perverse that Lakeland’s profits on the red-light camera racket would be used to move a statue – an action that in no way could be considered related to traffic enforcement. This is larceny.

Waterloo, Iowa is just one of many cities in that state addicted to ticket camera revenue.  The legislature and/or the Iowa Department of Transportation could end the rackets – but they refuse. It is truly pitiful when state legislators and departments actively support the for-profit ticket camera rackets by refusing to end them.

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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