Why Red-Light Cameras Are a Bad Idea

The following is an email I wrote on a mailing list when the topic turned to red-light cameras and someone said that they sounded like a good idea.

No offense, but it sounds to me like you aren't familiar with the multitude of problems with these cameras.

1. They actually increase accidents, because people slam on the brakes when they see a yellow light, causing people behind them to smash into their rears.

See http://www.motorists.org/ma/rlcstats.html, http://www.autoblog.com/2006/04/05/maryland-countys-red-light-cameras-net-2-85-million-increase/, http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/18/1844.asp, http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/16/1614.asp, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/03/ar2005100301844.html, http://www.newsnet5.com/investigations/13333662/detail.html, & http://www.hawaiireporter.com/story.aspx?e218ba2c-30ba-47d5-845f-d648d6f4c15f.

Shall i go on?

2. Studies have shown that the yellow lights on these cameras mysteriously get shortened. It wouldn't be to increase the # of people getting ticketed, would it?

See http://www.politechbot.com/p-03801.html and chap. 14 of Richard Forno's "Weapons of Mass Delusion", available at http://www.infowarrior.org/wmd/

3. You are abrogating law enforcement functions to a private, for-profit entity that by definition has a vested interest in increasing the number of people who get tickets, as the company gets more $$$ that way.

For example, see Susan Vinella's "Red light cameras face challenge in lawsuit" in the Plain Dealer of 12 December 2005 (unfortunately not available on the Web any longer): "Officials [in Ohio] estimate the cameras will generate $10 million next year. The company that operates the cameras, affiliated computer services, will make about $4 million annually."

4. You (often) have no way to appeal.

See, for example, the case brought in Stern v. Stubenville, para. 4a of the individual claim: "Persons who wish to contest their citations are limited to a hearing that is not subject to any prescribed rules of procedure or evidence, and is not heard by an impartial tribunal, but is decided by a police officer employed by the very department that issued the citation, whose decision is final and not subject to judicial review or further appeal, all of which violate the due process rights guaranteed by the Ohio and the United States constitutions;"

See http://www.sternlawyer.com/complaint.htm

5. You are abrogating law enforcement to an unthinking, uncaring machine. Speeding because your wife is pregnant? Too bad. Having a bad day and not paying attention? You can't explain that to the cop. The machine doesn't care. You automatically get the ticket, withs no human intervention required.

See chap. 14 of Richard Forno's "Weapons of Mass Delusion", available at http://www.infowarrior.org/wmd/

For all these reasons, red light cameras are wrong for St. Louis and wrong for any community in the US.

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