NMA’s Weekly ATE Racket Report for July 10, 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…

The New York Times recently featured a story on China’s camera surveillance system that includes facial recognition. Chilling state of dystopia!

A report came out last week stating that traffic cameras are more prevalent in Black neighborhoods in the District of Columbia.

Wait and See…

Red-light cameras may be one solution to help balance the 2019 budget in Apopka, Florida. The camera program is ending in December and the city stands to lose between $800,000 and $900,000. The city council should stick to their guns on keeping the cams out and instead figure out another way to balance the budget.

New Orleans Mayor Cantrell now hints at a compromise on traffic cameras…her office says that school zone speed cameras are OK but with limits. Other cams will go offline in spurts. She’s already reneged on her campaign promise of getting rid of all of them—should we trust her administration with this newest scheme?

Lawsuit against Greenville, North Carolina’s red-light camera program divides into two cases. The defendant’s lawyer did this to get rid of a technicality…but can they now win the case?  This is a wait and see…

Still clinging to its speed cameras, Toledo sues the state of Ohio after it recently lost in another court case concerning its automated traffic enforcement program. Toledo lawyers will again argue that the current ATE law violates house-rule powers that allow local governments to create their own regulations.

The city of Norton, Ohio is considering the use of dragon cams which are hand-held by police but can automatically issue a ticket without a traffic stop. The PD wants to nab speeders on I-76.

Bad News…

The Ocoee, Florida Police Department is now posting photos of red-light runners on their Facebook Page. Publically shaming is something they do in China but in the US?

Unbelievable—the new Georgia distracted driving law apparently opens up school zones for traffic enforcement cameras!

Because area residents asked, Chicago will add 3 speed cameras near schools and 2 near parks this summer.

First it was surveillance traffic cams downtown, now a drone. Wichita, Kansas police buy a drone and now must navigate public privacy concerns.  You bet, they need to!

Three downtown businesses in Durham, North Carolina have put up surveillance cameras in downtown to count pedestrians on the streets. Downtown Durham Inc. wants to find out how many folks are walking in the area to give statistical information to current and future retailers.

White Plains, NY activated six red-light cameras this month. This is on top of cameras at five other intersections.

Later this year, Chesapeake, Virginia plans to place 4 additional red-light cameras expanding its program to nine intersections. Officials claim that the good news is two spots will no longer be monitored due to a steep drop in violations (no longer financially viable we must assume).

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

Apopka is interesting. Some time ago they added one second to the yellow intervals at camera intersections without FDOT permission. The violations and revenue dropped dramatically. FDOT blackmailed the city to put the second back in by threatening to withhold some highway funds. Now the mayor and many others want them gone, but MONEY has become a real city issue.  It will be interesting to see whether morality or filthy lucre wins out in the end.

Ticket camera rackets have been very controversial in New Orleans for some time. Like Apopka, it will be interesting to see whether morality or filthy lucre wins out in the end.

The first suit in Greenville failed for technical reasons of standing, but the new suits are better crafted to avoid the voiding technicality. A strict reading of the NC constitution makes the contracts illegal because they do not give 90% of the revenue to the schools to use for educational purposes.

Toledo, like Dayton and some other Ohio cities, is absolutely determined to keep their for-profit ticket camera rackets operational. It has been a long fight between the rights of “home rule” cities versus the ability of the state to control such issues. So far, most lower courts and even the Ohio Supreme Court have voted on the side of letting the cities keep the loot from the cameras. The new legislation is about how state money is evaluated and distributed, rather than specifically how the cities can control traffic. So the arguments will be different in the courts, giving another chance for morality and citizen anti-camera views to prevail over city greed.

School zone cameras are proliferating in many places including Georgia, Chicago, Providence and others. The keys for profits are abnormally low limits like 15 or 20 mph on major streets and/or operation during days and times when NO kids will be present.

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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