NMA’s Weekly ATE Racket Report for August 7, 2018

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.  

THIS WEEK…

NBC News ran a report this past week on Facial Recognition.  Worth a viewing.

WAIT AND SEE…

Drivers ticketed for speeding by automated cameras along Ohio’s I-80 could get their money back as part of a class action lawsuit. In December 2018, motorists were receiving speed cam tickets in a work zone that was no longer a work zone in Girard near Youngstown. The speed limit was once again 65 mph but nearly 7,000 motorists received automated tickets for anything 56+ (that was the work zone speed limit) before the speed limit was changed.  Tickets were $104 to $179 per ticket. This will be a wait and see court case.

Landline Magazine reported recently on the ongoing battle for work zone speed cameras in Pennsylvania. Both houses have passed differing bills of SB 172 which would authorize speed cams in active work zones on interstates and federal highways as a pilot program. Sticking point—should the pilot be three or five years? A legislative analysis of the bill reports that $30 million dollars annually could be grabbed from motorists with the state’s take going to the State Police, PennDOT, PA Turnpike Commission and the state Motor License Fund. Also, the bill would allow speed cameras on US 1 or Roosevelt Boulevard for five years in Philadelphia. This 12-lane stretch carries about 90,000 vehicles daily. This 15 mile stretch already has 40 red-light cameras posted at various intersections. SB172 awaits House consideration and if approved will go to the Governor’s desk. NMA Advocates have been working tirelessly to beat this bill.  If you live in PA, write your House member today and ask them to vote NO on SB172.

The Dallas School Bus Camera Scandal seems to be a story with no end.  Last week, a judge ordered BusPatrol (now called Force Multiplier Systems–the company in cahoots with the crooks at the Dallas County Schools or DCS) to ATS for court costs after BusPatrol sued the company for trademark infringement. Now, DCS trustees filed a lawsuit last Friday against BusPatrol to recover the funds that was a result of corruption from everyone involved in the scheme. Last year, disgusted voters dissolved DCS after learning of the massive bribery scandal surrounding the bus camera program. DCS dissolution committee lawyer Stephanie D. Curtis wrote,

“Through the machinations of its former superintendent, Dr. Rick Sorrells, DCS became the victim of a massive conspiracy that defrauded it of tens of millions of dollars. This scheme involved scores of individuals, entities, and shell corporations that all had the purpose of bilking DCS of more than $125,000,000 in taxpayer money.”

The suit seeks $250 million dollars in damages.

BAD NEWS…

New Rochelle, New York’s red-light camera program generated nearly $2 million in revenue with close to 22,000 fines for 2017. State Lawmakers approved the cams in 2014 and the city took four cameras live in April 2016. In 2017, 11 additional cameras became live for a total of 15 cams at 12 intersections. Camera Company Brekford received 35 percent of gross revenue or $674,174 while the city received $1,252,038. The safety angle of the red-light cameras apparently are negligible according to the city’s annual report to the legislature.

NMA’s City and 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

The issue of speed cameras on Ohio Interstates involves several communities. Most of them are very small towns that do not have police actually patrolling the Interstates. They set up what should be illegal contracts with for-profit camera companies to use laser ticket cameras from overpasses and pay the for-profit camera companies on a per-ticket or percentage basis. Such contracts would be illegal in many places as they guarantee the real goal is to maximize ticket numbers and profits – NOT to improve safety.

PA SB172 has bounced around for many months with various proposals and amendments. But make no mistake – the “pilot program” is a total ruse. This is designed as a permanent for-profit racket. The cameras would be used ONLY where the posted limits are too low to absolutely guarantee profits. And once the profits roll in for three or five years, killing that corrupt goose that lays those golden eggs will be a very difficult task.

The entire Dallas County Schools for-profit venture with school bus cameras has been a total comedy of errors. The cameras are a racket in the first place, and the handling of the contract was done so poorly with almost-certainly-illegal favoritism that the scam lost money. You have to work REALLY hard to mess up a for-profit racket with a ticket camera company, but DCS people succeeded. This total scandal may help us and other camera opponents to advise others to pass on any ticket camera contracts.

Remember, New Rochelle’s ticket camera racket contractor – Brekford – was one of the ones thrown out of Baltimore for abjectly incompetent management and inaccurate equipment. And paying for-profit ticket camera companies on a percentage or per-ticket basis guarantees a corrupt approach based entirely on profits – not safety. Such contracts are illegal in many places and should be everywhere.

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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2 Responses to “NMA’s Weekly ATE Racket Report for August 7, 2018”

  1. Bill says:

    Thanks for covering PA issues and SB 172. All the trickery involved in trying to pass this tells you all you need to know. It is important to contact your PA House member, PA Senator, and the governor, as this bill keeps bouncing around. Tell them an election is rapidly coming up. Remember, this is the PA General Assembly, NOT the US Congress.

    • James C. Walker says:

      Contacting your Representatives, Senators and the Governor about bills you support or oppose in state legislatures is an important way to help influence legislation that we support or oppose. It is particularly important with things like speed or red light cameras because the supporters have likely encouraged people to contact the officials to say YES – and it is really good for a lot of us to call and say NO.