Posts By: The Newspaper

By on October 29, 2011

A report released last week by the engineering firm Gibson Traffic Consultants (GTC) found the use of red light cameras unjustified in Bellingham, Washington. The study gathered collision data from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the city to conclude the use of an automated ticketing machine at the intersection of Guide Meridian Road at Telegraph Road was unwarranted.

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By on October 28, 2011

After news spread that paying a red light camera tickets in Los Angeles County, California is optional, the average number of people paying citations declined by nearly a third. According to an analysis of Los Angeles County Superior Court payment transaction count and revenue data by TheNewspaper, the state, Los Angeles County, municipalities and photo enforcement vendors are losing $1 million per month following the revelation that there is no penalty for tossing a mailed ticket in the trash. The news broke as part of the hearing process while Los Angeles municipal officials debated whether to shut off automated ticketing machines in the City of the Angels.

“What we have here is truly a voluntary citation program,” Los Angeles Police Commissioner Alan J. Skobin said at a June 7 meeting. “It’s voluntary because there’s no teeth in it and there’s no enforcement mechanism.”

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By on October 27, 2011

An estimated sixty million Americans live in a jurisdiction monitored by an automated ticketing machine. According to a report released today by the left-leaning US Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG), the trend of privatizing law enforcement raises a number of issues that put the public in those areas at risk.

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By on October 21, 2011

Port Lavaca, Texas is refusing to release documents that might reveal whether additional motorists have received automated tickets for running a green light. Yesterday, Byron Schirmbeck, director of saferbaytown.com, filed a formal complaint with Calhoun County District Attorney Dan Heard over the city’s refusal to comply with the terms of the state open records statute that generally requires the disclosure of public documents within ten days.

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By on October 20, 2011

Add Colorado Springs, Colorado to the growing list of cities having second thoughts about the use of red light cameras. On Tuesday, interim Police Chief Pete Carey discussed his intention to drop the year-old program as the contract with vendor American Traffic Solutions (ATS) expires at the end of the year. The mayor, who asked the previous chief to step down, is behind the move.

“The photo red-light enforcement program did not meet our expectations,” Mayor Steve Bach said in a statement. “It is as simple as that. If a safety program can’t be shown to improve safety, it ought to be stopped.”

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By on October 19, 2011

Georgia’s introduction of high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes on Interstate 85 at the beginning of the month has already turned into a public relations disaster. During rush hour, motorists found themselves stranded in the general purpose lanes as the adjacent HOT lane — constructed and maintained with their tax dollars — were essentially unused. Drivers balked at paying the stiff $5.40 entrance tax for permission to enter, leaving the existing lane space to go to waste. Governor Nathan Deal (R) intervened swiftly on October 6 to order the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) to lower the cost of using the toll lane.
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By on October 18, 2011

Jeffrey McCave was sentenced in a county court to thirty days in jail, two years of probation and a $1000 fine for listening to music in an undriven car parked on his father’s driveway while drunk. The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday used the case to clarify that the charge of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) does not apply in a personal driveway.

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By on October 17, 2011

Spartanburg County Circuit Court Judge Roger L. Couch ruled that driving just 5 MPH under the speed limit, not in the fast lane, is suspicious enough to justify a traffic stop. South Carolina’s second highest court on October 5 examined the case, but sidestepped the speed issue to decide whether a man could be convicted of marijuana possession simply because he was in a car that contained the drug.

The three-judge appellate panel reviewed the September 16, 2008 incident that when Nicholas Carl Davy was driving in the middle lane of traffic on Interstate
85 through Spartanburg County. Andre Jackson was a passenger taking a ride to Greenville. He went to school with and was a friend of Davy’s 22-year-old son.

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By on October 14, 2011

A top congressional leader on Wednesday made clear his opposition to President Obama’s idea of spending $10 billion to create a national infrastructure bank (view details). The bank, part of the White House jobs bill, would offer public subsidy for the financing of “public private partnerships” — which most often would take the form of a toll road. The chairman of the US House Transportation Committee said at a hearing the president’s plan would not advance.

“A national infrastructure bank is dead on arrival in the House of Representatives,” Chairman John Mica (R-Florida) said. “If you want a recipe to put off job creation, adopt that national infrastructure bank proposal.”

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By on October 13, 2011

A federal judge on September 27 absolved the US Department of Justice (DOJ) from any liability after an FBI agent destroyed a $750,000 Ferrari during a joy ride. Motors Insurance Corporation had been seeking to recover the value of a 1995 Ferrari F50 that was in the custody of department officials. Motors dropped a separate Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit against the department on October 3.

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By on October 12, 2011

A King County, Washington court is unwilling to allow the public to have any input into the question of whether red light cameras and speed cameras should be used in Redmond. In a ruling yesterday, Judge Laura Inveen quashed the 6050 signatures that had been filed by city residents who wanted the issue to be presented to voters — even if only as a non-binding advisory question. Photo enforcement opponents meanwhile have been mounting their own counter-offensive, hoping the state supreme court will resolve the contradictory legal rulings in the lower courts.

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By on October 11, 2011

A  plan to spend $1.5 million in federal gas tax funding to help a private company purchase the Ohio Turnpike was torpedoed by a group of Democratic members of Congress from the Buckeye State. US Department of Transportation officials held a conference call Friday to let US Representatives Marcia Fudge, Marcy Kaptur, Dennis Kucinich, Tim Ryan Betty Sutton, and Senator Sherrod Brown know that the project had been shelved.

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By on October 10, 2011

California Governor Jerry Brown (D) sided on Friday with red light camera companies and the remaining municipalities that use automated ticketing machines. He vetoed a measure that would have placed the mildest of restrictions on photo ticketing.

“I am returning Senate Bill 29 without my signature,” Brown wrote in his veto message. “This bill standardizes rules for local governments to follow when installing and maintaining red light cameras. This is something that can and should be overseen by local elected officials.”

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By on October 7, 2011

Since September 8, motorists in Costa Rica have been racking up speed camera fines worth 308,295 colones (US $600) each. Sixteen speed cameras have been flashing around the city of San Jose at a rate of a thousand per day as part of the brand new program. Those fines — among the world’s highest — are not being mailed to vehicle owners, as is the case elsewhere. Instead, motorists are expected to check their plate number on a regular basis to see if they need to pay up.

On September 26, the first set of license plates was published in the form of a 120-page list in La Gaceta, the government’s official journal. The alleged violations are sorted by day, so all of the country’s vehicle owners must scan each day of the week looking for their vehicle. Those among the 15,429 plates that have been listed so far have until October 17 to come up with the $600 in cash.

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By on October 6, 2011

State highway officials are using their public offices to lend credibility to a public relations front group created by a foreign red light camera company. On September 27, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) held its annual meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio where it celebrated the “special achievement” of the Traffic Safety Coalition. This group, which is run by a public relations firm retained by the Australian photo enforcement firm Redflex Traffic Systems, accepted the Peter K. O’Rourke Special Achievement Award.

GHSA is a non-profit organization that “receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or from the general public,” according to its tax returns. Its primary members are state transportation officials who use GHSA to lobby on behalf of programs that increase the issuance of traffic tickets.

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