By NMA President, James Baxter
Maryland officials clamor for expanded use of ticket cameras for speed enforcement. Wisconsin legislators introduce a bill to legalize red light ticket cameras. New Jersey Governor signs legislation allowing local governments to use cameras to catch “red light runners.” Florida Legislators hold “dog and pony show” where ticket camera companies extol the virtues of camera-based traffic law enforcement.
Is there a message here?
Yes there is, but it isn’t about highway safety.
The real message is that state and local units of government are becoming strapped for cash. Property values are going down and that means property tax revenue will go down unless less mill rates go up; a political misfire at best. Sales taxes are stagnating. And those states with income taxes are bracing for some real bad news.
Their solution; let’s get creative about bilking motorists:
- Increase registration, licensing, and motor fuel taxes.
- Increase fees and fines for traffic violations.
- Create new traffic violations like prohibitions on cell phone use, lower BAC standards, doubling or tripling fines in work zones (in which often no work is being done), and primary seat belt laws.
- Lower speed limits and add redundant traffic lights and stop signs to roads that might otherwise compete with toll roads.
- And, the star of the parade; employ ticket cameras at every possible opportunity.
The rationalizations for this hammering of motorists include the usual disingenuous claims that motorists are single handedly responsible for global warming, mayhem on the highways, callus mowing down of highway workers, red light running epidemics, and triple digit speeds in school zones.
The list could go on, but any serious contemplation of the subject will come up with the same conclusions:
Governments need/want more money and they don’t have the integrity, the courage, or frankly, the justification to raise it through honest legitimate taxation.
Better to demonize drivers and imply that they and their vehicles are responsible for billions of dollars in debt, environmental havoc, and foreign wars.
That’s the government we’ve bought and paid for.