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
Aurora, Colorado residents voted two out of three to ban red-light cameras in their city during yesterday’s election. This is very good news for the citizens of Aurora and for any motorist who passes through.
Texas Supreme Court heard arguments in a Red-Light Cameras Case last week. Residents in the small town of Willis are suing their town because they say the cams are illegal since there was no state-required engineering study done before the cameras were installed. This is indeed a wait and see that could far reaching implications for many other Texas towns in this predicament. We are also hoping this will set up a way to convince the 2019 state legislature to ban the cameras entirely.
Texas anti-cam supporters sent out an alert (and so did we) about contacting the Supreme Court Justices by phone on how you feel about these scameras. Justices in Texas are elected so they might actually be interested in what you have to say.
TheNewspaper.com reported this past week their Top Fourteen Photo Enforcement Felons. What a group they are! The newest entrants all hail from the Dallas School Bus Camera Scandal.
In last Friday’s NMA Driving in America Blog, we featured testimony from Texas member Ted Levitt who was successful in 2014 in stopping a school bus camera program in a nearby community and some updated numbers on combating this kind of automated traffic enforcement. The NMA is saddened by the news of the all the deaths and injuries this past week of the school children and girl scouts, but cameras would perhaps not have stopped these tragedies. Driver Education and ongoing police enforcement through traffic stops are the best methods.
Wait and See…
Advocacy group takes on Florida automated license plate readers or ALPRs. The New Civil Liberties Alliance, a group that seeks to limit the power of administrative agencies, is going after Coral Gables for use of 30 ALPRs which record the movements of everyone passing through the city. The suit seeks to strike down a current Florida DOT rule that established guideline for use of the ALPR data which the Alliance says is so loose that these devices are basically unchecked.
Seattle wants to extend their Red-Light Cameras to catch other violations, especially blocking the box and bus/bike lane violations. The mayor will first have to get a concession from state lawmakers since they are the only governing body that can expand the use of ATE.
The San Jose, California City Council approved last week a $6.3 million parking access/revenue control system that will utilize ALPRs.
Georgia: Gwinnet County Police Department and Gateway85 CID have been working together to install what they are calling “safety cameras” and we are calling ALPRs.
In Franklin Township, Ohio, police will begin using dragon cams—a police handheld speed camera that will send a ticket without a traffic stop.
San Antonio, Texas TV station posted a pro-cam report that stated: Red-Light Cameras having effect on drivers in Leon Valley. Many reports are frequently pro-cam because reporters are lazy and buy into the idea that these cameras are online for safety and not profit. We also think that they believe there is no real opposition to them…boy, are they wrong!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for updating the list.
Jim Walker’s ATE Commentary of the Week
BINGO IN AURORA, COLORADO! Another for-profit ticket camera racket bites the dust as voters say NO to the cameras. Ticket cameras have lost over 90% of the public votes so far (37 of 41). Seeing that the red-light cameras have NOT improved safety, two out of three voters said BYE-BYE to the racket.
Texas remains hot for the potential to declare several programs illegal for no required engineering studies, the Governor’s support for banning them statewide, and the scandals of the stop arm cameras. Lazy reporters often continue to swallow the pro-camera Kool Aid put out in press releases from the for-profit camera companies and their for-profit governmental business partners claiming safety benefits that a legitimate researcher would likely find do not exist.
ALPRs are great for catching criminals and finding stolen vehicles. BUT the database must not be kept for vehicles that did not “get a hit” as wanted for any reason.
Franklin Township and several other Ohio towns are using the “dragon cams”, handheld Lidar cameras to record and cite speeders. The most common way they are being used is on urban Interstates where the posted limits are artificially lowered too far from the rural limits. Then officers run the for-profit camera rackets from overpasses, citing safe drivers for “the dastardly crime of driving safely along with the normal flow of traffic” in speed traps with less-safe and improper posted limits. It is literally governmental larceny – stealing from mostly safe drivers for profits. And some of the programs pay the for-profit camera companies on a percentage or per-ticket basis – a corrupt style of contract that virtually guarantees corruption and would be illegal in many venues. NO ONE should tolerate the rackets.
Leon Valley, TX officials that claim safety gains from red-light cameras and public support for them are wrong on both counts. An extensive study by Case Western Reserve University showed that red-light cameras in Texas did not improve safety. And the vote in Aurora, Colorado shows again that if people are allowed to vote on having or keeping the cameras, they vote NO over 90% of the time.
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.