Compiled by NMA Foundation Executive 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 Past Week…
California will begin testing digital license plates. They will cost $700 but can be used as long as you own the car. The Car Connection ran a story that stated these digital things can even talk to another car—Is that what we want…our license plates to talk shop?
A second Florida Supreme Court ruling on Red-Light Cameras came down last week. The justices said that RLCs can stay on in the city of Aventura. The suit was brought in protest of having third party contractors operate the cameras. They sift through the footage first and then send it off to police. NMA Foundation Executive Director and co-editor of this report made these comments to the article:
Even the state Supreme Court is voting with letting the cities keep the illegally-collected $$$$$$$$$$$, not with the law or safety. It is likely this is because the state gets an $83 sales commission on each $158 ticket (52.5%) without paying a penny of the high camera costs – for a usual total rip off of $50 to $60 million a year. The only way the red-light camera rackets will end is when the Legislature bans them by law.
The website informationsecuritybuzz.com posted an article entitled Will Facial Recognition Protect our Data in the Age of Autonomous Cars? I don’t know about you but facial recognition reminds us of the terribly creepy TV show Person of Interest. Becoming a standard in China, facial recognition can be used on any of us without our permission and can not only figure out who we are but track out movements wherever we go. The article did not answer any questions but did give us a bit of insight about Apple’s facial recognition that is the newest feature on their IPhone.
Wait and See
A Lakeland, Florida political blogger had a suggestion for the Red-Light Camera fees of $2 million that has been held by the city in wake of the State Supreme Court rulings on RLC’s—the money should be used to match grants for local arts and art groups “in order to maintain Lakeland’s desirability as a place to live, work and be.”
In our opinion, a better idea is to do away with the Red-Light Cameras program entirely…that would bring back some of that desirability that has recently been lost. Who wants to travel to or even live in a town that taxes its resident by citation?
Yet another automated traffic enforcement trick that drivers will need to worry about soon–the move over camera. Nearly every state now has a move over law which means you need to move over away from the shoulder if you see an emergency vehicle parked on the shoulder (this could also include other types of vehicles such as garbage trucks and dog catchers–depends on your state.)
You could be driving the speed limit but not able to move over for a law enforcement vehicle on the shoulder due to a giant truck in the next lane and BLAM your car will be photographed, your plates will be identified by an ALPR, you will be sent an automated ticket and you will then have to prove why you could not move over even though you can’t even remember what happened. The cam company Brekford plans to make this available to cities in July. It has already been tested in Canada. This Policing for Profit is completely out of hand!
A year ago, Mount Carmel, Tennessee deactivated its two speed cameras. The city announced last week that a red-light camera will now be going up at the intersection of Highway 11W and Hammond Avenue. Fines will be $50 with only $22 going to the city’s general fund (the rest to the scam company). The speed cams that were deactivated apparently are still active gathering data (used for what, we would like to know).
Renton, Washington recently placed new RLCs in three different intersections at the beginning of the May and during the warning period, police apparently were surprised at how many warning tickets were mailed out. After June 13th, police say the fine for running a red light is up to $250 but will not go on the driver’s record. If the driver does not pay the ticket or respond to the hearing, the driver could have a hold placed on car registration and license tags.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for updating the list.
Jim Walker’s ATE Commentary of the Week
RE: the California digital license plate.
Are you interested in having a license plate that creates a database of all your travels which could be hacked and/or sold to commercial interests? I’m not.
RE: the move over camera from Brekford.
Remember, Brekford was one of the for-profit camera companies that ran the disastrous camera programs in Baltimore so inaccurately and incompetently that their contract ended very early and Baltimore sold off the terrible equipment at fire sale loss prices.
This week, the NMA has been exchanging ideas, data and references with www.springstaxpayers.com, a group in Colorado Springs that is opposing an upcoming red light program to be run by ATS. We provided a detailed and personalized version of our “10 Reasons to Oppose Red-Light Cameras” blog item from May 25th to assist the group in making the counter arguments. The group is going to follow up with FOIA requests to get the data on approach speeds and yellow light times that will likely show how the program will depend upon deliberate mis-engineering of the lights to produce profits.
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.