ATE Racket Report for November 28, 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…

Yet another Texas Supreme Court article on how a ruling could do away with Red-light cameras in the state. There are currently six cases winding its way through the court all because lawyer   received an RLC ticket in Richardson in 2014. He didn’t just get mad—he did something about it.  The big question—will the court really decide to ban RLCs or not…track record so far in other states has been pretty bad.

Another story with legs in Seattle. The current city budget wants to transfer its RLC fines to the general fund instead of the safety fund and safety groups are not happy.

Wait and See…

The Cedar Rapids, Iowa Police Chief wants the speed cameras turned on again on the I-380 so that he can use the fines collected to pay for 10 more police officers. What a mess in Iowa!  Why don’t more motorists protest here instead of acting like sheep?

Has Rochester, NY given up on $7 million past due on red-light cameras fines leftover from two years ago when the program ended? This TV investigation could find no evidence that the city was doing anything about it. The mayor said this is why the program ended—the fines unfairly targeted those motorists who could not afford to pay. Can we convince other mayors this is the case?

Bad News…

Policing for Profit—Baton Rouge, Louisiana is expecting a $500,000 cash boost after renegotiating its contract for red-light camera service from Verra Mobility (formerly American Traffic Solutions or ATS). Apparently though, only a fraction of folks who receive tickets actually pay them. In 2017, 38 percent of the 72,847 notices were paid. The mayor’s office is currently evaluating options to collect the more than $43 million due in unpaid RLC fines still owed the city from the last 10 years.

Baltimore County Council enters into a multimillion dollar traffic camera program with Verra Mobility. Currently the county has 10 RLC sites with no intention to increase that but there are 78 speed camera sites that are ready for deployment. Currently, the police deploy 36 cameras a day. Portable speed cams operate 14 hours per day, five days per week. Per the new contract, Verra Mobility will provide a critical analysis for up to 270 potential camera sites. Yikes!

An editorial in the Baltimore Sun this week railed against motorists who pass school buses even with school bus stop cameras. Since October 2016, hundreds of Montgomery County school buses have been outfitted with driver side cameras and the fine was raised from $125 per violation to $250. In the first two years, 56,000 citations were given to motorists. Only half the buses are actually outfitted.

Motorists are not smiling when caught by red-light cameras in White Plains, New York. Since the six intersection program began in September, 7,068 motorists have received $50 violation notices. Run by Verra Mobility, as of early November, less than half of citations have been paid.

Allegheny County (Pittsburg), Pennsylvania is now using automated license plate readers (ALPRs) to help solve crimes (and invade everyone else’s privacy).

A Nashville, Tennessee neighborhood is also using ALPRs to fight back against crime.

Residents of a small village in Italy were fed up with speeders and decided to put up a speed cameras. The cams caught 58,000 motorists speeding in 10 days. Either the speed limit is too low or something else is going on there.

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

Keep your fingers crossed in Texas, there are several chances to kill the camera rackets in that state.

Iowa is a really perverse situation.  In past years, first the state House and then in another year the state Senate passed bills to ban all ticket cameras – only to have the opposite chamber refuse to even hold hearings on the bills. The Iowa DOT knows what is wrong, but refuses to change their engineering rules to improve safety and put the camera rackets out of business.

Rochester, Baton Rouge, and other camera racket cities found out the three main credit bureaus will no longer blot anyone’s credit for unpaid camera tickets. They do not consider them to be valid debts the people voluntarily agreed to pay.

Baltimore is a lost cause on red-light and speed camera rackets – at least until residents revolt and demand their removal.

Articles about stop arm cameras on school buses NEVER mention that 63+% of the child fatalities are caused by the buses, not by passing cars.  That is likely true because electronic systems to stop the bus drivers from running over kids would be an expense cost factor – where ticketing passing cars is a highly profitable venture.

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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