ATE Racket Report for October 17, 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 Past Week….

Our friends at Wise Up Winnipeg have been receiving some media—the group recently requested refunds to fines for photo radar due to technical fouls!

An Iowa editorial this week came out against automated traffic enforcement by stating that Iowa is bucking the traffic surveillance trend by adding more not less automated traffic enforcement.

The Chicago CBS station posted a report on Where Do Drivers get most Red-Light Camera Tickets in Chicago?

The Website IllinoisPolicy.org did one better and posted the article: Chicago’s Red-Light Cameras Capture more than $670 Million over Last Decade.

Every Monday, TheNewspaper.com posts the latest report on speed camera vandalism around the world. Here is the latest from Arizona, France, Italy and Russia. The NMA does not condone vandalism against these devices but we certainly understand the anger that underlies the act!

The city of Seattle released six reports that show how the city watches its people. These impact reports are required under a transparency ordinance passed in September 2017. The city uses 29 pieces of surveillance technology and the reports are available to read here. City officials plan to hold a series of public meetings to let residents give feedback. If cities must use ATE and other surveillance devices, they should indeed be accountable to citizens. Seems like Seattle is on the right path here.

Wait and See….

Brekford, the camera company that is pitching Move Over Cameras to cities, recently made a presentation to roadside workers in Northeastern Ohio.  The camera’s systems are able to pull out move over violations from video recorded that allows the company then to specifically issue a warning/citation possible. The Ohio Highway Patrol is not looking at employing any devices like these a spokesman says but add the HP wants to definitely have motorists be aware of the Move Over Law. This summer the OHP ticketed more than 600 drivers who were cited for not moving over for road breakdowns. We wonder if these cams were ever deployed, how many accidents would they cause since motorists would be doing some crazy stuff to make sure they would not get a ticket? You see, the Move Over law is not safe for everyone. Many times, motorists don’t move over because they are boxed in…very dangerous. See below for more comments about Move Over laws from James C. Walker.

Bad News….

The Denver Police Department has deployed a permanent ALPR on Federal Blvd. Before now, they have always used ALPR mounted on squad cars or in roving trailers. Police who have been trained can only view live data and not past data. (Does anyone really believe this?)

The village of Riverside, Illinois voted last week to begin a new red-light camera program. The city will sign a four-year contract with SafeSpeed and expects that the program be cost-neutral to the village. Any revenue generated will be earmarked for public safety measures which could include installing surveillance cameras at the village’s entrances. Camera placement and when they will appear is now up to the Illinois DOT.

The city of Wilmington, NC have signed yet another one-year contract with American Traffic Solutions. The city claims that the 13 cameras do not make any money for the city and are there only to make intersections safer. City Traffic Engineer Don Bennett says that on average, the busiest cameras only issue five to seven citations per day and most drivers never get a second one.

Beaverton, Oregon traffic cameras caught 94,000 people speeding in one year. That’s nearly one ticket per resident. The estimated 2018 population for Beaverton is 97,514. Officials in Medford, Oregon announced last week that they are doubling their ATE Program. The city will expand red-light cameras that also have green-light cameras (essentially speed cameras) to four intersections.

Moses Lake, Washington started their RLC program a few weeks and officials are quite pleased with how many violations and money from citations that are headed for the town’s coffers. 

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

Wise Up Winnipeg keeps the pressure on the officials through several ways, including a formal complaint against the engineers.

It is no secret that Chicago’s ticket camera rackets have been VERY lucrative. What is hard to understand is why Chicago residents have not absolutely revolted against the rackets and demanded they end.

There are many ways that automated surveillance such as license plate readers can help catch criminals or find stolen cars. What we need to do is require that the collected data be discarded after a fairly short period of time when the findings do not “get a hit” for some legitimate law enforcement need.

Move over laws can be quite dangerous and can cause high speed crashes when drivers feel they have to move over to avoid tickets but the traffic flow does not make that move safe at the last moment in fast moving traffic. The NMA is fighting a terribly dangerous bill SB477 in Michigan which would require drivers to move over a lane AND reduce speed to 10 mph below their speed limit. This means a truck in the right lane with a limit of 65 on a rural freeway would have to suddenly move to the left lane while braking to 55 mph —- right in front of a car driver who may be at an 85th percentile speed of 79 mph (in a 70 zone). Facilitating sudden 24 mph speed differential encounters on freeways is in no way a safety program, it could be a disaster program.

Lucrative ticket camera rackets continue to be popular with city governments for the revenue, and claims they are not about revenue simply do not hold water. They might have more credibility for the claims if cities paid the exact vendor costs, absorbed all the internal & court costs, and donated every penny of the profits to the International Red Cross for disaster relief. Don’t hold your breath for such a program.

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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