Red Light Cameras: The Media Wakes Up

Until recently, the media has generally supported red-light cameras.

In past years, they would often print quotes from the ticket camera companies as fact, they didn’t question the statistics given to them by local government, and any dissenting opinions were relegated to one sentence at the end of the article.

Things have changed over the last year or so though — the tables have turned and now the majority of articles on ticket cameras are negative.¬†All across the country, local newspapers and TV stations are investigating the reality of their cities’ ticket camera programs and they’re not pleased with what they’re finding.

This editorial by the Las Cruces Sun-News (which has supported the cameras in the past) is just one example:

From the beginning, we’ve maintained that red-light enforcement cameras could potentially serve as an effective traffic safety device at some of our city’s busiest intersections. But, we’ve also been troubled by the city’s secretive administration of this policy.

If every there were an effort that demands total transparency, the red-lights cameras would be it. Instead of paying upfront to have the cameras installed and monitored, the city has contracted with a private company called Redflex Traffic Systems. For every $100 ticket issued, $50 goes to Redflex, $25 to the city and $25 to the state. Obviously, Redflex has a strong incentive to issue as many citations as possible.


What we haven’t learned yet is whether the cameras are having any effect, other than monetarily. Have accidents been significantly reduced at the intersections where the cameras have been posted? For what it’s costing local drivers, one would certainly hope so.

Thanks to the efforts of everyday citizens, and organizations like the NMA, these kind of editorials are becoming more and more common. The impact that this kind of press can have is substantial. Ticket cameras have been voted down in every city where they’ve been on the ballot.

Whenever you get a chance, take the time to send a letter to editor to your local newspaper or write your legislators and let them know how you feel about ticket cameras. Let’s keep this momentum going.

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