Editor’s Note: This interview with Richard Diamond first appeared in the National Motorists Association’s Driving Freedoms Magazine Spring 2019 edition. If you would like to support the work we do fighting against automated traffic enforcement, consider joining the NMA today!
What year did you start TheNewspaper.com Website, and why?
I started TheNewspaper in 2004 as a simple site to collect news items and documents of interest, mostly about photo enforcement. At the time, the media treated transportation as a purely local issue. Red-light camera companies took great advantage of this. They’d go city-to-city, putting on the same show at each stop, singing the praises of cameras. The local TV stations and newspapers would repeat these same talking points over and over, not realizing that other jurisdictions had found the claims were not true.
It soon became clear that just collecting stories was not enough. To cover the important issues, TheNewspaper had to do original reporting and expand coverage of issues like tolling and precedent-setting legal cases that affect motorists. The idea was, and is, to lay out the facts that the rest of the media tends to ignore — both the good and the bad.
What do you consider the biggest issues facing motorists today concerning the politics of driving?
In many ways, the threat has always been the same: The ticketing industry pushes bad public policy to protect a massive revenue stream. This industry consists of insurance companies (they like tickets because points mean higher premiums), state highway officials (they balance their budgets with ticket revenue), and the photo enforcement firms that do all of the work.
Vision Zero, for instance, is just a shiny new package that, when you open it up, the same old ideas are inside the box: lowered speed limits, cameras, and just about any technique to increase driver frustration. All of that has the primary goal of increasing the number of tickets issued. It’s the national 55-speed limit arguments applied at the local street level.
Do you see any difference in the politics of driving between today and when you started the website?
Reporters are much more skeptical about claims being made by the ticketing industry. In the early 2000s, the media openly mocked the idea that there was a connection between short yellow times and an increase in red-light camera citations. Now, it’s pretty much common knowledge. A few investigative reporters across the country have even been active in exposing the dark side of the industry, including the Chicago Tribune reporting that helped put the top management of Redflex in prison.
There’s also a much more active resistance to speed cameras. When I started, three cities had voted to ban red-light and speed cameras. Now there have been 41 votes across a dozen states. That’s only possible because of the increased public awareness from a number of sources, including NMA.
Your particular focus is on red-light and speed camera traffic enforcement. Do you see any positive trends in this area?
Redflex, once the biggest camera company, is now number two, and it hasn’t turned a profit since 2013. If a major state like Texas finally succeeds in banning red-light cameras, it could be enough to push the Australian firm into bankruptcy. Since TheNewspaper began, twelve more states have outlawed cameras because constituents took the time to call their lawmaker and demand it.
From your viewpoint, what are some strategies readers can use when looking into who has interests in local traffic enforcement?
Find as many people who think as you do, especially shop owners who might not want customers hassled on the way to the store. People who show up to city council meetings and make intelligent, calmly presented points backed up with facts stand out. Bringing a crowd and having numbers on your side helps overcome resistance. Your job is basically to convince the council that they need to find another way to raise revenue.
As an essential independent voice, what should individual motorist rights advocates focus their attention on these days?
With Vision Zero, the battle has gone local. Advocates for motorist rights need to attend those city council meetings and speak up when there are plans to put obstacles in the road. Point out that traffic calming creates accidents. Great Britain tracked that statistic and reported that “road humps, chicanes, etc.” caused nearly 100 accidents, 25 involving hospitalization, in 2017. I guarantee that’s not something they have ever heard before.
There’s always more to the story, and if activists aren’t telling it at the local level, nobody else is going to do it.
Here are three of Richard’s post from the past two weeks that illustrate his work:
- UK Government Report Undermines Speed Camera Rationale
- Arizona Town Accused Of Illegal Red-Light Camera Meeting
- Foreign Speed Camera Companies Pocket Millions In Bailout Cash
NMA Resources to fight against Ticket Cams and other Street and In-Car Surveillance
NMA Issue Pages:
Check out the NMA Facebook Page called the Ticket Cam Alert USA
We are currently building a closed Facebook Group called the Ticket Cam Alert USA Discussion Group for local and state activists to have a space to discuss best practices and ask questions.
Also, here are some NMA blog posts that might be of interest!
- 10 Reasons to Oppose Red-Light Cameras
- How to fight Red-Light Cameras in Your Neck of the Woods
- Build a Ballot Petition Campaign against Red-Light Cameras
- The “Gold Standard” for Red-Light Camera Accident Analysis
- The Truth About Speed Cameras: They Don’t Work
- Ticket Cameras Create Major Due Process Concerns
If you would like to keep track of the many issues currently involved in automated ticket cameras and street surveillance, take a daily peek at the NMA’s Driving News Feed or subscribe to Driving News Daily, a five times per week email.
If you would like to support the work of the National Motorists Association, please join today.
Thank you for reading the NMA’s Ticket Cam Alert USA Blog!