A federal jury ruled Thursday against a traffic camera company that had sought to impose a $20 million fine on its nearest rival. The panel of eight spent an hour-and-a-half to arrive at the verdict denying American Traffic Solutions (ATS) payment for contract revenue lost in twelve cities after the Australian firm Redflex Traffic Systems snuck uncertified equipment into the country in violation of Federal Communications Commission regulations.
With ballot initiatives and other possible legislative action threatening to put a major photo enforcement company out of business, an effective public relations strategy has become the firm’s top priority. Redflex Traffic Systems on Friday had its former corporate spokesman, Michael Ferraresi, return to writing about the industry for the Arizona Republic newspaper, which covers the battleground market of Phoenix.
The Las Cruces, New Mexico city council voted Monday to partially obey a New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) to remove red light cameras and speed cameras from the state right-of-way by May 18. State officials are concerned with the negative impact that the devices have on safety, but Las Cruces officials emphasized the need to “work around” the state in expanding the red light camera program even though the city has seen an increase in accidents where photo enforcement has been installed.
Lobbyists for municipalities and photo enforcement companies have succeeded in gutting attempts to place even the most minor of restrictions on the use of red light cameras and speed cameras in Arizona and Tennessee. For more than a year, the Tennessee General Assembly debated the wisdom of restricting the use of automated ticketing machines. A special study committee was established where state House members listened to testimony almost exclusively from representatives of cities and the private, for-profit companies that operate traffic cameras. The committee now has nothing to show for its effort.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s administration has officially canceled the state contract that authorized Redflex Traffic Systems to issue automated freeway speeding tickets. The program, started in 2008 by Brewer’s Democratic predecessor Janet Napolitano, will be terminated according to statement issued earlier today to Australian Securities Exchange investors.
Three California city councils debated whether to keep or discard red light cameras last week. In Loma Linda officials on Tuesday voted to drop automated enforcement while South San Francisco officials voted to keep it on Wednesday. The debates followed in the wake of a decision by the city of San Carlos last Monday to drop cameras after the duration of the yellow light at the camera-enforced intersection was extended by one second, eliminating the system’s profitability.
Jefferson Parish, Louisiana has until 4pm today to meet the demands of Redflex Traffic Systems, the company that until January operated red light cameras and speed cameras for the local government. The Australian firm is absolutely furious that parish officials have withheld payment while the program faced lawsuits from citizens and corruption probes from federal investigators. Redflex insisted that the “millions of dollars” owed must be deposited in the Redflex accounts before the close of business today.
The photo enforcement industry announced on Friday the creation of a new red light camera and speed camera advocacy group. The Partnership for Advancing Road Safety (PARS) describes itself as an organization that seeks to use best practices to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities on American highways. The group’s number one priority is countering the growing nationwide backlash against the use of automated ticketing machines that has resulted in multi-million dollar loses for camera vendors.
The private company that operates speed cameras in Denver, Colorado is ignoring the provisions of state law designed to protect the public. Motorist Bill O’Neil used his cell phone camera to document the lack of warning signs around a photo radar van issuing tickets on First Avenue in January, KMGH-TV reported. City officials entrust Redflex Traffic Systems, an Australian company compensated based on the number of tickets it is able to issue, with the responsibility of placing the signs. A police spokesman told KMGH that signs were out, just on the other side of the road.
The number one speed camera and red light camera operator in the US today reported that its profits plunged by 32 percent in the first half of fiscal 2010, due in large measure to rising public discontent with automated enforcement. Redflex Traffic Systems told Australian shareholders that after adjusting for exchange rates, the company lost A$8 million, primarily as a result of citizen activists taking action against photo enforcement.
Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia succeeded last week in blocking efforts to end red light camera ticketing in Loma Linda, California. While several members of the city council expressed a desire to uproot the automated ticketing machines, Redflex insisted that could not be done unless the city paid $534,558 in early termination penalties. The council declined to take any action at its February meeting.
The Arizona Senate Public Safety and Human Services Committee approved legislation last Wednesday that would substantially expand the size and scope of the photo enforcement program in the state. Lawmakers voted 6-1 to approve legislation allowing the use of automated ticketing machines for a number of new types of violations. Committee Chairman Linda Gray (R-Phoenix) sponsored the legislation after becoming an enthusiastic supporter of cameras.
A US District Court judge on Monday in effect told the two largest photo enforcement firms that they need to act more like grown-ups. In November 2008, American Traffic Solutions (ATS) filed suit against its Australian competitor, Redflex Traffic Systems, alleging that the company won Arizona’s statewide photo radar contract by lying in bid proposals regarding the use of radar units not certified by the Federal Communications Commission. US District Court Judge Frederick J. Marton decided in August that the suit had merit and should proceed to trial (view decision), but he showed signs of fatigue when faced with eleven separate motions and other items requiring judicial disposition Monday.
An automated enforcement company is turning to an unelected branch of government to re-write Arizona law regarding proper service for traffic tickets. Redflex Traffic Systems of Melbourne, Australia convinced John D. Wintersteen to file a petition earlier this month that asked the Arizona Supreme Court to modify the state’s rules of civil procedure to better accommodate red light cameras and speed cameras.
“Unlike the majority of other jurisdictions that have implemented photo enforcement, Arizona’s rules governing service of process have not been simplified to accommodate the unique challenges presented by the widespread use of photo enforcement equipment,” the petition prepared by Redflex lawyers stated. “Rule 4.1 does not currently allow defendants in photo enforcement proceedings to be validly served with a copy of the summons and pleading by first-class mail.”
As the recession continues, more and more motorists have decided to ignore red light camera and speed camera tickets issued by private companies like Redflex Traffic Systems. According to a report issued earlier today by the Australian photo enforcement giant, such non-payment contributed to a significant drop in expected profit for the first half of the fiscal year. Previously reported problems, such as the “expensive failure” of freeway photo radar in Arizona, led to a shareholder revolt last month.