Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More Reasons to oppose Red Light Cameras

Let's talk about Traffic Cameras industry's contributions to elected officers' campaigns. I don't know if this is the case or will ever be the case with our Hallandale commissioners. But I tend to think that it, the way politics are conducted in this country, I wouldn't be surprised that one day it could be a factor. That would be an unacceptable, and regrettable reason, in additional to what we already know about the traffic cameras as revenue generator and a tax in disguise.

There is one more argument.Many experts are now affirming that these red light cameras could actually increase accidents.

Read on the following excerpt from an article published on Boston.com (affiliated to the Boston Globe) – Nov.13, 2009


Governor Deval Patrick is advancing a plan to make Massachusetts the 25th state to let cameras play traffic officer at red lights, an enforcement measure that many police chiefs and mayors have been seeking for years.

The administration’s push has set off a debate that is already unfolding in other states: whether the cameras are there to improve driver safety or whether they represent a new source of revenue for cash-strapped governments. The way Patrick introduced the measure, in a budget bill, has some detractors saying that it is a money grab.

……a newspaper investigation in Chicago showed that city leaders often place the cameras where they are likely to make money, rather than where they are likely to reduce accidents. And federal government studies say that cameras have actually increased some types of crashes, as drivers are tempted to stop short or speed up to avoid being photographed.

,,.. “By putting it in the budget, they’re admitting it’s about money and not about safety,’’ said Ivan Sever, state chapter coordinator of the National Motorists Association, an advocacy group that opposes the cameras. “That’s not right.’’

Sever said the for-profit companies involved in installing the cameras have been pushing cities to use them as revenue generators as part of their business model. And he points out that studies have shown the cameras actually increase rear-end crashes, perhaps because drivers stop suddenly when they notice the warning signs, only to get hit from behind.

But there are questions about both the money and the effectiveness involved in camera enforcement. Investigations by the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune found that the vast majority of tickets were issued to drivers who failed to stop completely before making a right turn at a red light, a traffic violation that rarely leads to a crash. The Tribune report found that local officials were posting the cameras where they were likely to generate cash, rather than where the most serious crashes were occurring.

And although some cameras have generated $60,000 a month, the city of Dallas had to pull more than a fourth of its cameras because they were not earning enough fines to meet operating costs, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Members of the industry that sells the cameras and their relatives have given thousands of dollars to elected officials at the state level.

Michael Cohen, a spokesman for Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray’s political fund, which has received at least $1,225 in contributions from industry employees since 2005, said the donations have not influenced his support. He has supported the technology for years, dating back to his time as mayor of Worcester.

Senator Steven A. Baddour, the Methuen Democrat who is cochairman of the Legislature’s transportation committee, received a $500 contribution from an account executive at Redflex Traffic Systems last year. He said he supports allowing the cameras but would like to reduce the maximum fine from $100. He said that police chiefs in his district support it and that he had never heard of the Redflex employee.

Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill has received more than $4,000 from an industry official at Affiliated Computer Services and his spouse since 2005. Though Cahill has no direct role in the decision on whether to allow the cameras, spokeswoman Alison Mitchell said “he is absolutely opposed to it.’’

“He feels that it’s a back-door way to raise revenue,’’ Mitchell said.


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