Compiled by NMA Foundation Director James C. Walker and NMA Communications Director Shelia Dunn
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.
Three International Stories came to our attention.
Edmonton, Canada: The pilot program to automatically ticket vehicles that had too loud of an engine was quietly turned off last week because motorists and motor bike riders were gaming the system. They would rev up their engines to see how many decibels they could reach legally. Residents near the devices said that the noise was even worse than before. The devices worked on the same principle as automated speed cameras. Here are two groups that are fighting against ATE.
http://stop100.ca — one member of their group has driven over 200,000 km with an electronic message sign in the back of his Golf.
http://nophotoradar.ca — sometimes the member’s electronic signs are about no photo radar.
TheNewspaper.com reported that the French Government is investigating a speed camera corruption case. The watchdog group Antigo filed a complaint earlier this year after discovering that government officials had awarded several sweetheart deals to cam company Fareco. The French Financial Prosecutor is now on the case. Under French law, showing favoritism to a contractor is a punishable offense up to two years and a $35,000 fine (30.000 Euros).
Dutch officials have announced that they will now use the country’s speed cameras and 800 automated license plate readers to catch motorists who have not paid their road tax.
Wait and See…
A number of Chicago area motorists have filed a lawsuit against the city claiming that red-light camera tickets are unconstitutional because the city is not fulfilling the requirements as indicated by state law.
A Louisville, Kentucky paper posted an article that was actually an editorial that stated it’s too unsafe to stop drivers running red-light cameras. The writer advocates for red-light cameras to help police officers do their job.
Laurie, Missouri Police Department is investing in just one automated license plate reader. They received $20,000 in grant money from the state and the Missouri Police Chief’s Association. The police chief indicated his little town needed one because they sit at two counties and is a tourist destination. He added that 10,000 vehicles travel through the town in the summer and a lot of the vehicles have been involved in crimes not only in this area, but from other areas or states. Sounds like a bunch of fearmongering to us!
Suffolk County, New York officials have extended their red-light camera program another year. (They just love that money coming in since the entire county is saturated with cams!) At least one state assembly candidate is running against red-light cameras. If elected, Jeremy Williams says he will make it his mission to rid Long Island of the camera scams.
Officials in Providence, Rhode Island have increased by 40 cents for each speed camera ticket collected to the camera company vendor Conduent State and Local Solutions, Inc. City council members and the public are outraged. (Sounds like old-fashioned shenanigans to us!)
What’s wrong with these folks? Dallas, Texas renews deal with the same corruption tainted camera company that put them into this school bus camera mess. Residents voted to dissolve the Dallas County Schools last year after a bribery scandal but now the Dissolution Committee has inked a deal with BusPatrol, formerly Force Multiplier Solutions, the company involved in the scandal.
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
As in France, there have been several cases in the US where officials awarded sweetheart deals to particular camera racket companies.
The corrupt case with stop arm cameras in Dallas, Texas continues as we note above. And, as NHTSA data shows, the bus drivers kill over twice as many kids as passing car drivers – but there are no profits to be had for officials or the for-profit camera racket companies to try to stop the worst cause of under-age-19 pedestrian deaths in School Transportation Related Crashes.
Sometimes it was discovered that the for-profit camera company agreed to pay those that guided the contract to that company a piece of the fine revenue on each ticket. The most notorious case was in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. Parish officials discovered the corruption in guiding the contract to Redflex just as the program went live and escrowed all the fines. The escrow account got up to $21 million and they cut off the cameras. Redflex was suing to unfreeze their portion and citizens were suing overall against the racket. Eventually a compromise deal paid out the escrowed money partly to the government to cover legal costs, partly to Redflex, and ticket victims got partial refunds.
The ticket camera rackets in Chicago have been the subject of several lawsuits, but it is hard to get local or state judges to rule against the city.
The Riverside, Illinois cameras will be a racket and at least the local paper recognizes that fact.
There were some changes in the rules for cameras in Rhode Island, so maybe officials had to give the camera racket companies a bit larger piece of the loot to keep them happy.
This is the comment I added to the article from Louisville about red-light cameras:
If red-light cameras ticketed only the dangerous drivers that cause and risk bad crashes, no one would object. But then there would be no red-light cameras because they would not collect enough fines to even pay their own high costs. Red-light cameras ticket mostly safe drivers who endangered no one in order to both pay their own high costs AND produce the profits that for-profit camera companies and their for-profit city business partners demand from the rackets. Red-light cameras are illegal in many states and should be illegal everywhere. They are always for-profit rackets that punish mostly safe drivers. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association