The Truth About Cars » Speed Camera http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 16:58:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Speed Camera http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com South Carolina: Renegade Photo Speed Trap in Jeopardy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/south-carolina-renegade-photo-speed-trap-in-jeopardy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/south-carolina-renegade-photo-speed-trap-in-jeopardy/#comments Fri, 10 Jun 2011 14:45:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=398117

Reports from residents suggest Ridgeland, South Carolina is ready to concede defeat regarding the freeway speed camera system operated in defiance of state law. The large recreational vehicle used to mail tickets to travelers passing through the town’s seven-mile stretch of Interstate 95 is no longer as visible as it once was. Under attack in both the state legislature and the courts, Mayor Gary W. Hodges has yet to officially announce the end of his controversial ticketing program.

The state House last week voted 92-0 to approve Senate Bill 336, which reaffirms the ban on automated ticketing machines that was enacted one year ago (view law). The bill had previously passed the Senate 40-0 in March, but because House members added an amendment, the measure returned for a final Senate vote. There, state Senator Vincent Sheheen (D-Camden) introduced another amendment designed to knock the bill off the consent calendar and run out the clock on the last day of session. Sheheen is the recipient of $1000 in campaign donations from iTraffic, the company that runs Ridgeland’s camera program.

Despite the setback, the legislature returns in a special session Tuesday where the ban’s Senate proponents will attempt final passage. Even if that fails, camera opponents will almost certainly hit Ridgeland in the wallet. The current version of the state budget bill includes language that would effectively confiscate any revenue generated by Ridgeland’s camera system. The budget will come to a final vote next week.

“Speed Camera Restriction: No political subdivision of this state shall collect any fines, fees or costs which result from the issuance of uniform traffic citations or any other form of traffic citation that is based or has relied on camera assisted evidence,” section 86.10 of H. 3700 states. “Any municipality which fails to comply with this provision during the Fiscal Year 2011-12 shall have its Fiscal Year 2011-12 distribution from the Local Government Fund under the State Aid to Subdivisions Act reduced by an amount equal to the amount of fines, fees or costs collected by the political subdivision through the issuance of camera assisted traffic citations.”

On May 27, attorney Pete Strom renewed his class action legal assault on Ridgeland with a revised filing meant to address deficiencies identified by US District Court Judge Sol Blatt. Strom renewed the charge that Ridgeland and iTraffic were engaged in racketeering.

“Defendants conspired to attempt to serve alleged violators of the municipal ordinance by direct mail and outside of their respective jurisdiction,” Strom wrote. “In furtherance of the conspiracy, defendants committed numerous predicate acts, including but not limited to mail fraud and wire fraud. As such, Defendants have violated the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.”

The case is ongoing.

Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com

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Missouri Legislature Considers Speed Camera Expansion http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/missouri-legislature-considers-speed-camera-expansion/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/missouri-legislature-considers-speed-camera-expansion/#comments Thu, 12 May 2011 14:25:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=394705

Backroom dealing will determine whether speed camera use will become common in Missouri. The General Assembly yesterday agreed to convene a conference committee to iron out differences between House and Senate-passed versions of an omnibus transportation bill that cleared the state Senate on Tuesday. Among the the items up for debate is language that would allow any governmental jurisdiction to set up as many photo radar units as it pleases without any meaningful limitations on use.

“A county, city, town, village, municipality, state agency, or other political subdivision shall only employ the use of automated speed enforcement systems to enforce speeding violations in a school zone, construction zone, work zone, or a MoDOT-Designated Travel Safe Zone,” Senate Amendment No. 11 to House Bill 430 stated.

State Senator Tim Green (D-St. Louis) snuck the legislation through the process by dressing up authorization language in the guise of a “limitation” on photo enforcement. Yet the effect of the language is to give a green light to municipalities to install an unlimited number of speed cameras on any road so long as it has a sign designating it as a “work zone” or a “school zone.” In Maryland, the definition of a school zone is so loose that nearly every road in the state is swept into a school zone, even if the road does not actually connect to a school.

It is no accident that Green’s language would favor the operations of companies like American Traffic Solutions (ATS), the Show Me state’s primary speed camera vendor. In fact, ATS cut Green a $1000 campaign check on October 7. In addition, registered ATS lobbyist William A. Gamble took Green out for free meals on January 12, February 7, February 10, March 10, March 15 and March 17. ATS lobbyist Terry Schlemeier did the same on January 26, February 8, February 15, March 29, according to state ethics records. Lobbyists stand to gain handsomely for encouraging expansion for ATS. As first reported by the Riverfront Times, ATS lobbyists in 2005 were promised a cut of every ticket issued as a reward for establishing cameras in the state. Jay Morris Specter, later imprisoned for fraud, was promised a six percent cut of the ATS proceeds. Super-lobbyist Joyce Aboussie was promised a 3.2 percent share.

Expanding automated ticketing machines in the state is so important to ATS that it has retained a total of eleven lobbyists in Jefferson City in an attempt to convince the legislature to give its approval to the idea of mailing tickets based on photographic evidence. As no such state law exists, systems around the state are highly vulnerable to court challenge. Last year, the state supreme court struck down Springfield’s photo ticketing as illegal, while hinting in footnotes that the justices might look favorably on a broader legal challenge (view opinion).

Once the conference committee reaches an agreement on whether to keep the speed camera provision or not, the entire transportation bill would come up for a final vote under expedited procedures.

[Courtesy:Thenewspaper.com]

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Ohio Supreme Court Defends Traffic Camera Program http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/ohio-supreme-court-defends-traffic-camera-program/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/ohio-supreme-court-defends-traffic-camera-program/#comments Fri, 06 May 2011 13:32:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=394010

Ohio’s supreme court has a long history of defending traffic tickets, whether they happen to be issued by police or a machine. The court on Wednesday maintained this tradition in tossing out a constitutional challenge to the photo enforcement hearing process, denying the challengers the chance to present their case in full.

The high court first upheld the right of municipalities to issue speed camera and red light camera tickets in 2008, even though the state legislature had decided against authorizing such programs (view ruling). Other decisions upheld police officer-issued speeding tickets based solely on a visual guess of the driver’s speed (view decision) and found that drivers who do nothing unsafe could still be ticketed (view opinion).

In this case, a group of motorists filed a class action lawsuit against Columbus arguing the city set up a “shadow” court system within the police department to handle traffic camera tickets and other ordinance violations as a mean of bypassing the municipal court. The General Assembly maintains the sole authority to establish municipal courts under the state constitution.

“The Franklin County Municipal Court has jurisdiction over absolutely all of Columbus’ red light ordinance violations… because municipal courts have jurisdiction over the violation of absolutely and unequivocally all municipal ordinances, even fully decriminalized ordinances which regulate the standing or parking of vehicles, except where the violation is required to be handled by a parking violations bureau,” attorney Paul M. Greenberger argued. “As a result, [the parties that run the Columbus red light camera hearings] are subject to the immediate issuance of a write of prohibition preventing them from exercising the judicial power over said violations which judicial power must be exercised by the judges of the Franklin County Municipal Court.”

The Columbus ordinance also states that the hearing officer’s decision may only be appealed to the municipal court and that any ruling by a Franklin County judge is “final and no other appeal may be taken.” The challengers argued this ran contrary to a state law which specified that municipal decisions could be challenged before the court of appeals.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor did not provide justification for her decision to dismiss the challengers’ argument. The Columbus city attorney moved for dismissal on the grounds that the direct appeal to the supreme court was improper.

“It is easy to see what the relators truly want — a declaration that Columbus’s ordinance is unconstitutional and an injunction forcing Columbus to return all the monies collected under the city’s traffic camera enforcement system,” City Attorney Richard C. Pfeiffer Jr argued. “It is well established, however, that this court does not have jurisdiction over actions in which the real objects sought are declaratory and injunctive relief.”

A copy of the order granting dismissal is available in a PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Entry for Turner v. Brown, et al (Supreme Court of Ohio, 5/4/2011)

[Courtesy:Thenewspaper.com]

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Legislative Update: Four States Advance Traffic Camera Modification Bills http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/legislative-update-four-states-advance-traffic-camera-modification-bills/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/legislative-update-four-states-advance-traffic-camera-modification-bills/#comments Fri, 01 Apr 2011 13:56:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=389455

Lawmakers in four states this week advanced legislation that would, if passed, either place mild restrictions on or outright ban the use of automated ticketing machines by municipalities. The Florida state Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday voted 4 to 2 to approve an outright prohibition on the use of red light cameras — just one year after the legislature had given in to the lobbying effort of localities in authorizing their use. Senate Bill 672 must now clear the Senate Community Affairs Committee before being considered by the full Senate.

The Tennessee Senate Transportation Committee voted 8 to 0 Wednesday to move a far less impressive measure. Senate Bill 1684 has almost a dozen provisions, none of which will have much effect on the cities currently operating red light camera and speed camera programs. The official legislative analysis of the measure estimates that local governments would lose $689,700 if the bill becomes law and the state $30,800. The analysis notes that most of the “restrictions” simply reflect what cities are currently doing.

“According to the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police, it is current practice to reject citations for right turn violations when there is no evidence indicating a vehicle has crossed a stop line after a traffic light has signaled red,” the legislative analysis noted. “Multiple citations are not issued for each distinct and separate offense. Citations are currently rejected when registration information captured by surveillance cameras does not match that of the cited vehicle.”

Of the substantial changes in the measure, only four local governments would feel the legislation’s ban on the use of a “litigation tax” and $75 fees imposed on red light camera ticket recipients. Another provision banning the use of a speed camera within one mile of a significant speed limit change would affect ten cameras and cost municipalities that depend on this type of trap a total of $404,585. The bill must now be clear the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee before moving on to a floor vote.

In Iowa the state House voted 90 to 8 Wednesday to adopt HF 549, which would have legitimized the use of red light cameras and speed cameras in the state for the first time. Under the legislature’s rules, however, the deadline for passage through a Senate committee has expired, effectively ending the bill’s chance of final passage. Cities in Iowa have increasingly turned to cameras after the state supreme court ruled that localities did not require the legislature’s permission to install them (view ruling). Most of these jurisdictions were upset that the bill would have reduced the amount of a red light camera fine to $50 — the only substantive provision in the measure.

South Carolina’s Senate on Wednesday delivered a unanimous rebuke to Ridgeland Mayor Gary W. Hodges. A state law passed last year, backed by a a pair of attorney general opinions, declared the Ridgeland speed cameras on Interstate 95 illegal. Hodges ignored the opinions and claimed he had the legal right to use the cameras that have since generated about $1.3 million worth of citations. The Senate had previously given preliminary approval to Senate Bill 336 on March 3, but today’s vote sent the measure to the House for its approval. If signed into law, the bill would force Ridgeland’s cameras to come down. A class action lawsuit is pending to force Hodges to issue refunds to the vehicle owners ticketed by the unsanctioned program.

[Courtesy:Thenewspaper.com]

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Australia: Inaccurate Speed Camera Shut Down http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/australia-inaccurate-speed-camera-shut-down/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/australia-inaccurate-speed-camera-shut-down/#comments Mon, 18 Oct 2010 14:34:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=369231

Police in Victoria, Australia announced today that the point-to-point average speed camera system on the Hume Highway has been turned off until officials are convinced that a fatal accuracy flaw had been fixed. Officials admitted that at least nine drivers have been falsely convicted of speeding on that road since 2007. Officials only began to double-check the accuracy of the Redflex automated ticketing machine after police went to seize the car of a young woman accused of driving a low-powered economy car at high speed.

“It’s been a failure of the system in terms of 100 percent accuracy,” Redflex CEO Graham Davie said on 3AW radio. “It happened because of a technical glitch in the clock system…. I’m sorry this event has occurred.”

Last week, a police officer served an automobile seizure notice on a 20-year-old woman, Melissa, whom the camera had accused of doing 154 km/h (96 MPH) on the Hume Highway on September 24 where the speed limit was 110 km/h (68 MPH). The offense was accompanied by a twelve-month license suspension.

“I was pretty upset, it was impossible for me to go that fast,” she told 3AW radio. “I couldn’t believe it. I was just shocked. I kept saying I didn’t do it.”

The officer on the scene understood that Melissa’s 84-horsepower economy car, a three-year-old Mazda 2, was not making a high-speed run. Because of his doubt, an investigation was launched that uncovered even more errors in the camera system. On March 31, 2009, a driver was accused of going 122 km/h (76 MPH), and a court convicted him, imposing the $227 fine and demerit points against his license. Another driver on the same day was falsely accused of driving 118 km/h (73 MPH). Two more drivers were falsely accused in June 2008 and three more in 2007. All were actually moving at the speed limit of 110 km/h or less.

“We found there was a problem with those two tickets,” Victoria Police Deputy Traffic Commissioner Ken Lay told 3AW radio. “There’s been a particular problem with the data… We’re confident that the other 68,000 are rock solid.”

Those tickets are worth $15 million, and the state government is desperate to avoid a repeat of the 2003 incident where a 1975 Datsun 120Y was falsely accused of driving a speed the vehicle was incapable of reaching. The resulting firestorm of criticism forced $26 million in refunds. Lay vowed to restart the Hume Highway cameras after a software upgrade is installed.

Average speed cameras operate by having one or more cameras photograph vehicles at different points along the highway a set distance apart. By calculating the amount of time it takes for the car to pass from one camera to the other, a speed reading is generated. For this to work, the clock on each camera involved must be set with absolute precision. The cameras re-synchronize once every minute, but one of the cameras for an undisclosed reason set a time that occasionally jumped between a microsecond and a minute too fast, producing an artificially high speed reading.

“I’m told that no other jurisdiction has had this problem,” Lay said. “Now, the trick is whether they’ve had the problem and not known it. I suspect that might be the case.”

Victoria Police noted that the cameras undergo routine maintenance on a strict schedule to ensure accuracy. This includes testing prior to installation, daily monitoring of the system and alarms by Redflex, monthly sensor testing, quarterly speed, accuracy and reliability testing and annual testing all by an independent testing company. None of these procedures uncovered any of the bogus tickets issued in the course of three years.

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

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Tennessee: Top Cop Luxury Vacation Paid By Speed Camera Company http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/tennessee-top-cop-luxury-vacation-paid-by-speed-camera-company/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/tennessee-top-cop-luxury-vacation-paid-by-speed-camera-company/#comments Tue, 05 Oct 2010 13:55:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=367507

The police chief in Oak Ridge, Tennessee received an all-expense paid vacation in Arizona, while collecting his on-duty salary, in return for his providing testimony that helped save Redflex Traffic Systems from paying millions in possible damages. The Australian firm came under fire after it was caught falsely claiming on customs forms that the radar units it had imported were certified by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). From 1998 to 2008, every time Redflex turned on a mobile photo radar unit, it violated federal law. When a rival firm, American Traffic Solutions (ATS), discovered this fact, it blew the whistle in a federal court case, the first round of which wrapped up in the spring.

ATS filed suit to claim that Redflex lied to about a dozen cities by offering its services without having properly certified radar units to fulfill the contracts it won. Redflex played dumb throughout the trial. Even though the United States represented the largest market for the company, Karen Finley, the head of North American operations, swore that no one at the firm had any idea that radar equipment required FCC certification to ensure that the transmitters would not, for example, create a potential safety hazard by interfering with air traffic control radar. It was all an “honest mistake,” Finley insisted. The company did not know about the law and the radar they used, once certified, caused no problems with other devices in the electromagnetic spectrum.

For the jury to find Redflex guilty, however, it would have had to conclude that the cities that embraced the Australian company’s cameras felt let down. Redflex kept an ace up its sleeve. In the city of Oak Ridge, for example, the devices issued an average of $200,000 worth of tickets each month. That made officials happy.

“I don’t feel misled by Redflex in any way, shape or form,” Oak Ridge Police Chief David Beams testified.

Beams spent a total of 38 minutes on the stand gushing about his positive experience with Redflex. For that, he received an all-expense paid vacation in Phoenix that included chauffeured rides from the airport, three nights in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and prime rib dinners. Redflex picked up the tab for everything but his salary, which Oak Ridge taxpayers were paying because his stay was considered “official business.”

Thanks to this testimony, the jury had little basis in the law for saying that ATS was entitled to $20 million in damages simply because Redflex violated the law. Redflex asked the federal judge to order ATS to pay $4,293,738 in court costs and attorneys’ fees, but ATS has appealed and the squabble over the money is still pending. Financial concerns are at the heart of the ATS and Redflex dispute because that has always been the top priority of the companies involved. The chief executive of ATS, Jim Tuton, said as much in a videotaped deposition made in advance of the trial. Asked by ATS lawyer Randy J. McClanahan, “Obviously, when you got back into business as American Traffic Solutions, your intention was to make money?” Mr. Tuton responded with one word: “Yes.”

[Courtesy:Thenewspaper.com]

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Australia: 18,944 Inaccurate or Illegal Photo Radar Tickets Refunded http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/09/australia-18944-inaccurate-or-illegal-photo-radar-tickets-refunded/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/09/australia-18944-inaccurate-or-illegal-photo-radar-tickets-refunded/#comments Wed, 08 Sep 2010 14:04:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=365033

In less than three years, officials in New South Wales, Australia have been forced to refund 18,944 faulty or illegally issued speed camera citations. Between July 2007 and May 2010, the state government has returned A$3,788,885 worth of citations issued by automated ticketing machines that were not operating properly, according to freedom of information documents obtained by the NSW Liberal Party, which used the figures to attack the party in power.

“With the Keneally Labor Government increasing the number of speed cameras in use, it needs to assure motorists they aren’t being fined incorrectly,” Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell said in a statement. “It’s simply unacceptable to have law abiding motorists fined incorrectly. This high level of repayment will cast doubt in motorists’ minds about the fairness of speed camera fines and that doubt must be cleared up as soon as possible.”

Faulty camera sensors were responsible for the second largest refund as a camera on Pittwater Road in North Narrabeen produced false readings and resulted in 996 innocent motorists being forced to pay $173,251 in fines. Other problems involved cameras used in ways that violated state policy and laws. The speed camera on Kingsway at Miranda applied lowered school zone speed limits at times when the limits did not apply, forcing $32,881 in refunds. The documents show a total of 148 incidents each with as many as 5279 wrongly issued tickets to as little as one.

In NSW, camera citations that range in value from $90 to $1865 each. For fiscal 2011-12, the state expects to bring in $570 million thanks to a new mobile speed van program.

The accuracy of Australian speed cameras first became an issue in July 2003 when a camera in Victoria accused a 1975 Datsun 120Y of driving at 98 MPH, setting off a chain reaction of events that ultimately cost the state government $26 million in refunds. Even after the thirty-year-old Datsun was tested and found to be capable of reaching speeds no greater than 73 MPH, police dug in their heels and insisted the photo enforcement system was accurate and that the fine would stand. Intense publicity from the case forced independent testing which showed faulty in-ground sensors and electromagnetic interference had been responsible for generating bogus speed readings. A total of 165,000 camera tickets were canceled.

Accuracy problems are common with speed cameras and red light cameras. View TheNewspaper’s worldwide coverage of this topic.

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LAPD Test Finds License Plate Covers, Sprays Ineffective http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/08/lapd-test-finds-license-plate-covers-sprays-ineffective/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/08/lapd-test-finds-license-plate-covers-sprays-ineffective/#comments Mon, 30 Aug 2010 14:01:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=364216

The Institute of Transportation Engineers Journal published in May the results of an extensive Los Angeles, California Police Department evaluation of the effectiveness of license plate covers and sprays designed to defeat automated ticketing machines. The results showed that the popular countermeasures did not work well under actual field conditions using the red light cameras operated in the city by Nestor Traffic Systems (the firm has since gone bankrupt and American Traffic Solutions now runs the program).

Los Angeles has 32 intersections with cameras that use both video and flash photography for issuing near $500 tickets to the owners of vehicles photographed turning right on red or entering an intersection a split second after the light turns red. Photos are taken both of the driver and the vehicle’s rear license plate. The test looked at Photoblocker high-gloss spray that claims to reflect the flash and cause the photograph to overexpose, as well as a convex license plate cover also designed to reflect the flash. These devices were installed on three 2007 Ford Crown Victorias belonging to the Los Angeles Police Department, with a fourth serving as a control vehicle. The cars were then run through the intersection of Sherman Way and Louise Avenue which were shut down to traffic for the test.

With the signals set to display a constant red light, the cars were run through a total of 160 times in straight-through and turn lanes at night and during the day heading both westbound and eastbound. Night time results were conclusive.

“The countermeasures had no effect on plate legibility under dark conditions, with the exception of V-2 (license plate shield), which occasionally caused a slight increase in front-plate legibility in half of the images,” the study found. “All rear plate images were clearly legible, with no significant difference between the test plate images and the control plate image. A citation could have been issued in all cases.”

Results from testing at 8am to 9am, however, were less clear with the sun low on the horizon causing a significant amount of glare.

“The countermeasures had very little effect on the rear-plate vehicles, with the exception of the license plate shield, which caused a 38 percent reduction in plate legibility when combined with sun glare,” the study found. “The rear plates on the westbound vehicles plates experienced more sun glare than any other group in the test. This is most likely because the angle of the plate in relation to the sun reflected the glare more directly into the camera.”

Photoblocker and a generic equivalent decreased legibility in 10 and 20 percent of the cases compared to half of images rendered unreadable with the cover. Headed eastbound, away from the sun, the images were all high-quality regardless of the countermeasures used.

“The overall average image quality scores reveal that the brand-name photo spray and generic lacquer spray both decrease image quality by about five percent, with the brand-name spray having a slight advantage,” the study concluded. “The license plate shield shows a five percent overall increase in image quality, which means that when all eight categories are considered equally, this countermeasure had the opposite of the intended effect.”

In March 2007, the Discovery Channel’s MythBusters television program came to a similar conclusion after testing several types of plate covers against cameras operated by ATS. In June 2008, Pennsylvania’s attorney general banned Photoblocker from the state because of the questionable claims made on its website (view ruling).

[Courtesy:Thenewspaper.com]

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Australia: 440 Tickets Refunded Due To Malfunctioning Redflex Camera http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/australia-440-tickets-refunded-due-to-malfunctioning-redflex-camera/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/australia-440-tickets-refunded-due-to-malfunctioning-redflex-camera/#comments Wed, 28 Jul 2010 14:35:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=361701

Officials in Tasmania, Australia last week reluctantly admitted that some of its speed cameras produced unreliable readings. The automated ticketing machines on Tasman Bridge were found to be issuing speeding tickets to vehicles that were not speeding, forcing a refund of 440 tickets issued between June 5 and July 5. According to The Mercury, a test of the device against a handheld speed gun showed inaccurate readings.

In Arizona, officials have no problem with the inaccurate output provided by the speed cameras. State law require that tickets be issued to the driver of the vehicle, not simply mailed to the the first name on the vehicle registration, as is the case in many other states. The law requires positive identification based on a comparison of a driver’s license photo and the image generated by a photo radar unit. The group CameraFraud produced a ticket that Redflex Traffic Systems had mailed from the recently canceled statewide freeway camera project. The driver of a white Chevy Silverado pickup truck can barely be seen as sun glare reflects off of the vehicle’s dirty windshield, yet Redflex mailed the ticket without making the required positive identification. There is no penalty for failing to abide by the law.

In January, the same camera system issued tickets to Arizona Cardinals star Larry Fitzgerald, a black man, even though the photographs clearly showed a white man behind the wheel.

[Courtesy:Thenewspaper.com]

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Ohio: Voters In Two More Cities Poised To Ban Traffic Cameras http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/ohio-voters-in-two-more-cities-poised-to-ban-traffic-cameras/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/ohio-voters-in-two-more-cities-poised-to-ban-traffic-cameras/#comments Mon, 19 Jul 2010 14:23:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=361107

A pair of Cuyahoga County, Ohio cities are likely to have a public vote on banning red light cameras and speed cameras in November. A sufficient number of residents in Garfield Heights and South Euclid signed a referendum petition that organizers expect to turn in this week, as early as today. Once approved, these municipalities will join Anaheim, California; Baytown and Houston, Texas; and Mukilteo, Washington in voting on the future of cameras on November 2.

Cuyahoga County for Liberty (CC4L) coordinated the signature gathering effort in conjunction with the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) which successfully built a coalition to defeat Cincinnati’s red light cameras in 2008. CC4L Chairman Grant McCallum explained the reason his group decided to fight the cameras in South Euclid.

“It’s clearly an overreach of government, as far as I’m concerned,” McCallum told TheNewspaper. “It’s a way for local governments to extract money from their citizens. It has nothing to do with safety.”

City leaders hope to deploy speed cameras and mount cameras on school buses to issue expensive citations. McCallum says he has more than 500 signatures in hand — double the 251 required to force the vote. His most successful tactic has been to direct traffic into a drive-thru petition signing area in parking lots that allow supporters to quickly and conveniently register. McCallum says the support has been tremendous.

“Everyone sees this as just a money-grab — a scam,” McCallum said. “Some people are concerned about Big Brother and electronic surveillance, but the majority of people understand it’s just another way for the city to make money…. The support is across all the political spectrum.”

Garfield Heights has also lined up more than enough signatures. So far, 2300 have said that they want a vote to end cameras, even though only 875 signatures are needed. Once on the ballot, Ohio voters have always approved bans on cameras. Last November Chillicothe and Heath voted to ban them — with 72 percent of voters in the latter city rejecting automated ticketing. In 2008, residents in Cincinnati, Ohio rejected red light cameras. Seventy-six percent of Steubenville, Ohio voters rejected photo radar in 2006.

Elsewhere, 61 percent of Sykesville, Maryland voters overturned a speed camera ordinance earlier this year. In 2009, eighty-six percent of Sulphur, Louisiana rejected speed cameras. College Station, Texas also rejected cameras. In the mid-1990s, speed cameras lost by a two-to-one margin in Peoria, Arizona and Batavia, Illinois. In 1997, voters in Anchorage, Alaska banned cameras even after the local authorities had removed them.

[Courtesy:Thenewspaper.com]

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Arizona: The Speed Cameras Come Down http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/arizona-the-speed-cameras-come-down/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/arizona-the-speed-cameras-come-down/#comments Fri, 16 Jul 2010 15:54:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=360996

Tickets are no longer being mailed based on evidence created by freeway speed cameras in the state of Arizona. After a year-long campaign against the devices, activists from the group CameraFraud.com succeeded in convincing Governor Jan Brewer (R) to end the photo enforcement contract that her predecessor, Janet Napolitano (D) signed. As a result, the cameras were remotely shut down at 12:00am today.

In January 2008, Napolitano’s budget predicted that 100 speed cameras would issue $165 million worth of tickets by 2010. Only 36 fixed and 42 mobile cameras were ultimately used, and the Australian company in charge of the program, Redflex Traffic Systems, mailed 1,105,935 tickets worth $200,727,202. Unfortunately for the state budget, two out of three recipients threw their citations in the trash on the advice of groups like CameraFraud and newspapers like the Phoenix New Times who correctly pointed out that unserved tickets were invalid. Only 432,367 citations were paid.

Photo enforcement advocates insist that taking down the cameras will result in a ten-fold increase in speeding and accidents. Opponents counter that the other side is making false claims to protect a highly profitable enterprise.

“The spokesman for Redflex is throwing out bogus figures in an attempt to fool the public into fearing other drivers on the road — it’s pure desperation,” CameraFraud’s Shawn Dow told TheNewspaper. “Arizona’s photo radar program was a complete failure. Neither Janet [Napolitano] nor the cameras are welcome back in Arizona.”

As an example of the false claims, Redflex and DPS both claimed that the freeway photo radar program was the first of its kind in the US, with the claim blindly repeated in publications such as the New York Times and Arizona Republic. In 2001, the state of Hawaii signed a contract with a different Arizona company to run freeway speed cameras. The “talivans” as they were popularly known sparked such a revolt that the legislature had no choice but to end the program prematurely. Illinois started its own modest freeway camera program more than a year before Arizona’s program started.

The same backlash that hit Hawaii struck in Arizona, and Dow intends to bypass the state legislature and use the local initiative process to shut down the remaining municipal cameras on a city-by-city basis. His first target is Paradise Valley, which is not the oldest speed camera program — speed cameras were operational in Texas in the 70s — but rather the oldest program that is still operating. According to Dow’s figures, a majority of the city’s registered voters signed the statewide petition to end photo radar. The localized version of the initiative now includes a provision calling for the refund of all camera citations collected.

“Paradise Valley is going to pay the price for twenty-three years of scamming the citizens out of their money,” Dow said.

Dow hopes to get several local initiatives on the November ballot, joining four confirmed ballot votes in cities as large as Houston, Texas. By November 2011, he predicted there would be no more speed or red light cameras in the state of Arizona. Photo enforcement has never survived a public vote.

[Courtesy:thenewspaper.com]

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Arizona Redflex Speed Cameras Come Down This Week http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/arizona-redflex-speed-cameras-come-down-this-week/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/arizona-redflex-speed-cameras-come-down-this-week/#comments Mon, 12 Jul 2010 20:25:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=360747

According to AZfamily.com, Arizona’s controversial freeway speed cameras will come down this week, as a result of governor Jan Brewer’s decision to not renew the state’s contract with Redflex. In addition to public opposition to the cameras, a lack of revenue flowing to the state appears to have been a factor in the decision to shut down the cameras. Apparently, the cameras generated over 7,000 tickets in their first year of operations, but because so many motorists simply ignored the tickets and the state didn’t have enough process servers, only about $30m of the estimated $90m in fines that should have been generated by those tickets was actually paid to the state. Arizona’s freeway speed cameras should be deactivated by this Friday.

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UK: Speed Camera Ticketing Slowed Advance in Road Safety http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/uk-speed-camera-ticketing-slowed-advance-in-road-safety/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/uk-speed-camera-ticketing-slowed-advance-in-road-safety/#comments Mon, 12 Jul 2010 14:40:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=360709

The TaxPayers’ Alliance and Drivers’ Alliance last week calculated that UK speed cameras issued £87,368,227 (US $131,256,380) worth of tickets in fiscal 2009 without any demonstrable safety benefit. Since speed cameras were first installed on British roads in 1991, the roads became more dangerous than they would have been without photo enforcement, according to the report.

“The road casualty rate has declined at a slower rate since speed cameras were introduced in the early 1990s,” the study explained. “Using the road casualty rate from 1978-1990 it can be estimated that 1,555,244 more road casualties have occurred from 1991-2007 than would have if the 1978-1990 trend had continued.”

Such figures should see a continuous steady decline because advances in automotive technology including anti-lock brakes, stability control, crumple zones and airbags have made vehicles significantly safer over time. Those who are injured in an accident are also more likely to survive as medical treatments and trauma care likewise advance.

In terms of the number of fatal accidents per billion passenger miles traveled, the casualty rate fell from 773 in 1979 to 331 in 2007. The pre-camera fall, however, was far more impressive. Had cameras never been installed, the group projected the casualty rate would have been 128 in 2007.

Automated ticketing machines in the UK are operated by speed camera partnerships representing local city and county officials teaming up with police. Beginning in 2007, the revenue generated by each partnership was sent directly to the national treasury with money reallocated back to the partnership through road safety grants. This setup was designed to remove the impression that the cameras were merely being used to raise revenue. Newly elected Prime Minister David Cameron now pledges to stop grants for the purposes of adding new fixed speed cameras.

This was the first count of tickets that included magistrates’ courts along with the national figures. Partnerships in England and Wales accounted for the greatest number of tickets — £65,748,850 (US $98,721,524). Another pound;19,214,594 (US $28,850,691) went through magistrates courts in England and Wales. Scotland issued £1,641,630 (US $2,464,905) in automated citations while Northern Ireland collected £763,153 (US $1,145,909).

View a copy of the report in a 200k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Research Notes No. 3 — speeding fines (TaxPayers Alliance and Drivers Alliance, 7/12/2010)

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Rental Car Companies Turn In Own Customers To Photo Ticket Firm http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/rental-car-companies-turn-in-own-customers-to-photo-ticket-firm/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/rental-car-companies-turn-in-own-customers-to-photo-ticket-firm/#comments Wed, 07 Jul 2010 14:21:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=360407

At least four of the country’s top rental car firms sell information on their customers to a photo enforcement firm. American Traffic Solutions and its subsidiary, ATS Processing Services, signed contracts through which Avis, Budget, Hertz and Advantage agreed to hand over information on renters so that ATS can collect extra money on photo tickets.

A California motorist, who asked to remain anonymous, found this out the hard way when his rented Toyota was accused on August 24, 2009 of traveling at 55 MPH on Interstate 295/395 near 9th Street in Washington, DC. The limit at this freeway location is just 40 MPH. Even though the driver believed the $50 ticket was issued in error, his credit card was automatically billed $30 pursuant to the small print in his rental car contract. The driver learned that the District’s photo radar tickets were not valid when two vehicles are visible in the violation photo and decided to contest the fine by written declaration. He won.

“The examiner determined that the ticket should be dismissed for one of the following reasons: there was an error on the ticket, the government was unable to establish the violation or the evidence submitted was sufficient to prove a defense to the violation,” the District Department of Motor Vehicles examiner ruled on May 16.

Despite the victory on the $50 ticket, the motorist now had to fight ATS to get his $30 “processing fee” back. Frequent business travelers who rent cars complain that they are often billed in error for photo tickets, parking tickets and toll road tickets that pass through ATS.

“They are hoping that a large number of people won’t even notice the $30 charge, or will simply accept it,” one user of the flyertalk.com forum wrote last year. “Then, by making it so onerous to get the charge reversed they hope more people will just give up. They hire minimal customer service staff, so their costs must be next to nothing. It doesn’t take many $30 charges to turn a tidy profit.”

ATS defends the $30 fee by claiming it covers a number of real costs associated with processing all municipal violations issued to the rental car company.

“The administration fee covers the cost associated with data entering each citation document, identifying the renter of the vehicle at the time the violation occurred, printing and bank fees incurred with billing and collecting fine amounts from renters, as well as the administrative costs of writing and mailing checks to ticket issuers before the citation due date,” the ATS website explains.

In the case of Washington, DC, ATS also happens to be the “ticket issuer” — the company that runs the photo radar program — meaning the firm collects $80 instead of just $50 from every Avis, Budget, Hertz or Advantage customer photographed.

[Courtesy:Thenewspaper.com]

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Arizona: 127,000 Voters Pledge Opposition To Photo Radar http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/arizona-127000-voters-pledge-opposition-to-photo-radar/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/arizona-127000-voters-pledge-opposition-to-photo-radar/#comments Fri, 02 Jul 2010 14:30:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=360123

The group CameraFraud.com announced yesterday that 127,000 Arizona voters had made it clear that they want voters decide the future of automated enforcement in the state. The figure fell short by about ten percent of the number legally required to force a measure onto the ballot against the will of lawmakers. Initiative proponents see this as a merely temporary setback. Arizonans Against Photo Radar Chairman Shawn Dow believes that his group is stronger than ever and will be able to flex its political muscle to force change in the state.

“We received more signatures than all of the candidates for governor combined, yet they can get on the ballot and we can’t,” Arizonans Against Photo Radar Chairman Shawn Dow told TheNewspaper.

A team of volunteers delivered 8000 fully signed sheets of signatures, each containing fifteen names, yielding 120,000 names. Another 1000 half-filled sheets were counted in a preliminary look by officials from the secretary of state’s office. The final figure is the equivalent of 12.8 percent of the votes cast in the 2008 presidential primaries and 5.5 percent of votes cast in the general election. The initiative got just 66,000 fewer signatures than Barack Obama received votes in the primary.

“With an all-volunteer crew, you’re limited to working on weekends — and there wasn’t a single weekend without an event,” Dow said. “It was hard work getting that far. We did not stop, not for one minute.”

The group brought the signed petitions to Governor Jan Brewer’s office to convince her to push the legislature to place the initiative on the ballot and let voters have the final say in the matter. If Brewer fails to act, Dow suggests one of Brewer’s primary opponents may be interested in picking up the support of photo radar opponents. The second prong of the group’s revised strategy involves taking the referendum effort to individual cities where collecting hundreds of signatures — as opposed to hundreds of thousands of signatures — is a much easier task.

Maryland residents took the same strategy after just barely falling short of collecting enough signatures for a statewide anti-camera referendum on a tight deadline. Under a local battle strategy, 62 percent of voters in the town of Sykesville insisted in May on sending the traffic camera companies packing. No photo enforcement program has ever survived a public vote.

[Courtesy:Thenewspaper.com]

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South Carolina House Votes To Ban Speed Cameras http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/south-carolina-house-votes-to-ban-speed-cameras/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/south-carolina-house-votes-to-ban-speed-cameras/#comments Tue, 01 Jun 2010 12:43:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=357745

The South Carolina House of Representatives voted Thursday to make the state’s ban on photo radar explicit. In 2006, the office of the attorney general issued an opinion stating automated ticketing conflicted with state law, but Ridgeland officials decided to ignore the ruling and operate a speed camera van on Interstate 95. The town of 2500 wants to deploy cameras to ticket out-of-state drivers as they pass through the seven-mile stretch within the town’s limits.

“We don’t need anyone’s approval to enforce the law in Ridgeland,” Mayor Gary W Hodges wrote in response to a local newspaper article. “The Gazette/Packet even pointed out that there is a ‘very high probability on I-95′ that some drivers who get tickets will be from out of state. Ya think? Believe it or not, we already knew this!”

Hodges entered into a five-year contract with iTraffic, a private company that offered to set up the system and do all the work in return for a cut of the profit generated. Bill Danzell set up iTraffic after his previous photo enforcement venture, Nestor Traffic Systems, went bankrupt. In neighboring Beaufort County, the local sheriff sought four years ago to obtain approval for a speed camera system, but was shot down by the state’s top law enforcement official (view opinion).

“It appears that there would be a conflict between the proposed ordinance and the state law prohibiting speeding in that there would be no criminal violation tracked or points assessed against the driver but, instead, there would be a civil penalty imposed,” the attorney general’s office ruled. “As to your question of whether it would be legal for a law enforcement agency to send citations to a registered owner by certified mail, no state law authorizes the use of such process.”

Lawmakers angered by Ridgeland’s defiance unanimously adopted an amendment offered by state Representative J Todd Rutherford (D-Richland County) that explicitly bans use of photo enforcement.

“Only when an emergency is declared which triggers the provisions of this section may speed or traffic cameras be used,” House Bill 1298 states. “A person who receives a ticket pursuant to a violation of traffic laws captured on speed or traffic cameras must be served in person with notice of the violation. Revenue collected pursuant to a violation of this section must be deposited in the general fund.”

The underlying bill contains a provision allowing golf carts to be driven on secondary roads near one’s home during emergencies declared by the governor or president. The provisions regarding service and sending all revenue to the state are designed to remove the financial incentive of localities to set up such a program, even in the event of an emergency.

The legislation would have to be approved by the state Senate before being sent to Governor Mark Sanford (R) for his signature. A copy of the bill is available in a 20k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File House Bill 1298 (South Carolina Legislature, 5/27/2010)

[Courtesy:Thenewspaper.com]

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California: Court Rulings Deprive Some Red Light Camera Programs of Profit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/california-court-rulings-deprive-some-red-light-camera-programs-of-profit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/california-court-rulings-deprive-some-red-light-camera-programs-of-profit/#comments Mon, 24 May 2010 05:37:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=357197

The Orange County, California Superior Court is making it difficult for Santa Ana to turn a profit on its red light camera program. From November 2009 to February 2010, the city lost a total of $145,414 on automated ticketing, meaning the city’s Australian camera operator, Redflex Traffic Systems, is walking away with $400,000 in general taxpayer money every year. The nearby city of Anaheim, which has nearly the same population, made a profit of $41,584 from red light running tickets over the same period. Anaheim not only has no red light cameras, a public referendum has been set to ban them for good in November.

Santa Ana’s monetary loss comes despite charging motorists one of the steepest fines in the country — $450 for every ticket that Redflex issues. The resulting revenue is split between the state, county and municipal governments. According to the city’s contract, Redflex receives $5370 a month for each of the twenty intersection approaches equipped with a camera. In November, for example, Santa Ana collected $83,653.70, according to court records, while paying $104,767.47 for red light camera operations. The net loss of $21,113.77 compares unfavorably to Anaheim, which made $10,249.74 from police officers issuing traditional citations at intersections.

Many cities try to avoid running a money-losing photo enforcement program by adopting so-called “cost neutral” contracts where the private ticketing companies guarantees that a city will only profit, not lose money, from the automated ticketing machines.

That option is not available to Santa Ana. In December 2008, the county’s appellate division court ruled “cost neutral” contracts were illegal (view ruling). Santa Ana also was forced to shut down its program for thirty days to comply with the ruling of Orange County Superior Court Commissioner Kenneth Schwartz who declared the city’s program in violation of a number of provisions of state law (view ruling). Instead of providing notice each time the city added photo ticketing to an intersection, as required by statute, Santa Ana made a single announcement in 2003 with the intention of moving cameras to new intersections within the city limits whenever a particular location failed to generate sufficient revenue.

Santa Ana’s contract with Redflex expires in June.

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Arizona: Judge Slams Redflex On Eve Of Court Case http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/arizona-judge-slams-redflex-on-eve-of-court-case/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/arizona-judge-slams-redflex-on-eve-of-court-case/#comments Tue, 11 May 2010 14:53:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=356150

A federal judge on Thursday sharply criticized the legal filings of an Australian photo enforcement vendor less than two weeks before a jury trial was scheduled to begin. Redflex Traffic Systems is being sued by its Arizona-based rival, American Traffic Solutions (ATS), on the grounds that the Melbourne-based firm won the recently canceled statewide speed camera contract with the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) by allegedly lying about the certification of its equipment. If it loses, Redflex could be forced to pay its rival millions in potential damages for lost business. Already, the company’s overall legal defense bill has reached $6.2 million for the past year.

ATS has been methodical in its attack on its rival. After realizing that Redflex illegally imported German and British-made components for its traffic camera systems, ATS filed a complaint with federal authorities, forcing Redflex to settle with the Federal Communications Commission (view consent decree). Having established that Redflex was unable to operate its equipment legally, ATS now argues that Redflex falsely advertised speed cameras as “approved” for use to a number of municipalities. ATS used the testimony of a pair of independent experts to argue that the firm is entitled to be compensated for the revenue it lost as a result of the false claims allegedly made by Redflex. Redflex responded with a “Daubert” challenge to convince the judge to throw out the ATS expert witnesses as unreliable and unscientific. The challenge was denied.

“Under our Rule 16 order, the parties were required to disclose expert testimony back in August 2009,” Martone wrote in his May 6 order. “Yet Redflex waited until April 20, 2010, ten days before the final pre-trial conference, to file its Ingberman motion, and April 26, 2010, four days before the final pre-trial conference, to file its Keeling motion. This was so late, plaintiff had no opportunity to respond… before the conference. If a party is serious about a Daubert issue, that is, above and beyond a garden variety objection under Rule 702, its motion should be filed and heard long before the final pre-trial conference, with an opportunity for the opposing party to respond, an opportunity for a reply and a chance for the court to read, consider the matter, and hold an evidentiary hearing if necessary. Redflex chose a different path.”

Martone, an Arizona Supreme Court justice before being elevated to the federal bench, seemed to grow tired of the failure of Redflex to abide by courthouse rules. In February, Martone issued a rebuke to Redflex after the company’s lawyers began uploading multiple, hundred-page documents to the court filing system at midnight before the deadline. Martone showed his exasperation with the latest Redflex filings.

“Its motions were thus too long, too late, and not within the letter and spirit of the Rule 16 order,” Martone concluded. “They were an ambush of the court and counsel. They were thus properly denied as motions in limine. Counsel will simply have to make his objection at trial.”

The trial is now expected to start May 18. A copy of the judge’s order is available in a 30k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Order in American Traffic Solutions v. Redflex (US District Court, District of Arizona, 5/6/2010)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

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Virginia Governor Kicks Off Massive Photo Enforcement Expansion http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/virginia-governor-kicks-off-massive-photo-enforcement-expansion/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/virginia-governor-kicks-off-massive-photo-enforcement-expansion/#comments Tue, 27 Apr 2010 14:20:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=354372

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R) signed into law last week a proposal that would create an entirely new form of automated ticketing machine, an “airport business” camera. The move followed his approval last month of legislation designed specifically to revive his state’s moribund red light camera program.

Beginning in July, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority will have the authority to hire a private company to operate a photo enforcement system that would mail tickets worth a maximum of $600 each to the owners of vehicles accused of using the Dulles Access Highway while not on “airport business” (view legislation). This fourteen-mile free road is adjacent to a toll route, but is designed solely for the use of people driving to Dulles international Airport or patronizing a nearby hotel and gas station. The authority intends to raise a significant amount of money by accusing motorists of improperly using the road. The airport authority has not explained how it will know whether the road’s users have a legitimate purpose or not, but the law leaves it to ticket recipients to prove their own innocence.

“Proof of a violation of the authority regulation governing the use of the Dulles Access Highway shall be evidenced by information obtained from the photo-monitoring system or automatic vehicle identification system,” House Bill 1295 states. “A summons issued under this section, which describes a vehicle that… is alleged to have been operated in violation of the authority regulation governing usage of the Dulles Access Highway, shall be prima facie evidence that such vehicle was operated in violation of the authority regulation.”

Another law taking effect in July, House Bill 1292, was specifically designed to encourage local jurisdictions to deploy red light cameras. Under a prior law, private photo enforcement firms were not allowed to directly access confidential information in Department of Motor Vehicle databases. The latter provision raised the cost of automated ticketing to the point where the programs would not turn a profit. Although nearly a dozen cities had enacted red light camera ordinances, only Virginia Beach went to the expense of operating a program with police officers handling the DMV information instead of a private contractor.

The city of Alexandria even announced a start date for its red light camera program and had functional cameras installed, but it declined to begin issuing tickets over the DMV provision. As first reported in the Washington Times, Alexandria officials also shortened the duration of the yellow light at the intersection of South Patrick Street and Gibbon Street in anticipation of camera enforcement. According to the Texas Transportation Institute, shortening the yellow at an intersection by one second can increase the number of tickets issued by 110 percent (view study).

In March 1999, the yellow time at the intersection in question was 4.0 seconds. The four-second timing reflected an increase from a prior setting that yielded, according to city officials at the time of the change, a massive drop in the number of tickets.

“At both Patrick/Gibbon and Seminary/Nottingham other factors significantly contributed to steep drops in our rate of red light running,” Mark Canoyer with the Alexandria Police Department wrote in a 2001 email reprinted in a VDOT report. “In the case of Patrick and Gibbon the cause was a retiming of the lights immediately preceding this intersection which had a profound impact. Similarly, the retiming of the yellow phase at Seminary and Nottingham had a dramatic effect.”

Despite the documented safety benefit from the increase, the intersection now has a signal timing lowered to 3.0 seconds — the absolute minimum allowed under federal law. Engineer Robert M. Garbacz certified this timing as appropriate in Alexandria’s February 19, 2008 application to re-start its red light camera ticketing program. VDOT accepted the signal shortening without question. The Virginia General Assembly voted to allow red light cameras in 2007, despite a report from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) that found that use of automated enforcement resulted in a significant increase in injuries and accidents (view study).

A copy of Alexandria’s red light camera application is available in a 625k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Engineering Safety Analysis Template (City of Alexandria, Virginia, 2/19/2008)

[Courtesy: TheNewspaper.com]

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Arizona: Police Report Shows Speed Camera Caused Accident http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/arizona-police-report-shows-speed-camera-caused-accident/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/arizona-police-report-shows-speed-camera-caused-accident/#comments Tue, 13 Apr 2010 14:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=352281

Although independent studies have shown a link between the use of photo enforcement equipment and a statistically significant increase in the number of collisions, opponents of photo radar have produced few concrete examples of these incidents. In Arizona, the group CameraFraud.com has begun using freedom of information laws to get its hands on examples of accidents that would not have happened but for the presence of a speed camera van (view studies).

At around March 17th at about 4 p.m. a gray 2005 Ford SUV was driving on State Route 202 passing through the city of Gilbert. Traffic was light on the six-lane, 65 MPH freeway on a clear and bright day. When the 32-year-old Ford driver saw a speed camera van up ahead, he slammed on his brakes and slowed to just 35 MPH — a common reaction near cameras as drivers seek to avoid receiving an expensive citation in the mail.

At the same time, a 22-year-old in a red 2008 Pontiac G6 was following behind without speeding, according to police estimates. The Pontiac driver briefly looked away from the car in front of her so that she could change lanes to the right. She did not expect the car ahead to suddenly scrub drop its speed by 30 MPH. As a result, the two cars collided just a few yards from a Redflex speed camera van.

Such incidents are quite common. A 2007 study by Arizona State University concluded that there was a 54-percent increase in rear-end collisions and a 9-percent increase in injuries from rear-end collision on the Loop 101 freeway during the state’s first experiment with automated freeway ticketing. The study’s author, paid by the city of Scottsdale, dismissed the significance of this finding by saying, “Increases in rear-end crashes are traded for reductions in other crash types.”

According to a comprehensive British Medical Journal study published in 2006, that trade-off may not actually be worth making. The report found that police claims of a safety benefit from the use of speed cameras turned out to be false. To the contrary, an examination of actual hospital records showed an increase in the number of patients admitted from road accidents following the widespread introduction of automated ticketing machines in England (view study).

A copy of the accident report obtained by CameraFraud is available in a 400k PDF file at the link below.

Source: PDF File Crash Report 2010-013387 (Arizona Department of Public Safety, 3/24/2010)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

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Traffic Camera Firm Issues Threatening Letter To Jefferson Parish, Louisiana http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/traffic-camera-firm-issues-threatening-letter-to-jefferson-parish-louisiana/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/traffic-camera-firm-issues-threatening-letter-to-jefferson-parish-louisiana/#comments Thu, 01 Apr 2010 14:32:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=351067

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.

“Remit to the company all outstanding proceeds of the program due,” attorney Douglas R. Holmes demanded on behalf of Redflex. “This remittance should include any and all costs, penalties and interest. Additionally, Redflex demands that the parish reactivate the red light camera program, which we contend was clearly suspended without cause or justification under the terms of the agreement… In the event the parish fails to comply with these demands, Redflex will have no choice but to seek legal action to protect its financial and reputational interest.”

Although Jefferson Parish officials signed up for automated ticketing in 2007, those leaders have since resigned in disgrace in the wake of a widening scandal involving bribery and fraud. Interim Parish President Stephen Theriot suspended the red light camera program after documents revealed that Redflex paid 3.2 percent of its revenue from ticket proceeds to lobbyist Bryan Wagner, a former New Orleans city councilman, who shared the funds with the wife of District Judge Robert Murphy. Wagner was set to earn an estimated $90,000 a year from his cut of the photo tickets. Jay Morris Specter, the lobbyist who hired Wagner on behalf of Redflex, is currently serving time for fraud at Edgefield Federal Correctional Institution in South Carolina with an expected release date of September 21. Redflex insists the company has not been tainted its association with Specter and others.

“Jefferson Parish and local and out-of-town media have insinuated that Redflex has done something wrong, perhaps illegal, relative to our local operations, yet to date there has been absolutely no formal allegation that Redflex has done anything illegal or improper,” Holmes wrote. “Opponents of red light cameras in general, as well as Redflex competitors who utilized their own consultants to pursue the parish contract, have used this cloud of suspicion created by the parish and the media to discourage other jurisdictions from using Redflex services and technologies.”

The Redflex demand followed a March 24 letter from the parish announcing that an outside firm would audit the red light camera contract to investigate any irregularities. A study by the Journal of Trauma published last month found no evidence that photo enforcement produced any significant safety benefit in Jefferson Parish.

A copy of the letter is available in a 130k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Jefferson Parish Red Light Camera Safety Program (Chaffe McCall LLP for Redflex, 3/26/2010)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

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Federal Judge Scolds Traffic Camera Companies http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/federal-judge-scolds-traffic-camera-companies/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/federal-judge-scolds-traffic-camera-companies/#comments Thu, 11 Feb 2010 14:42:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=345026

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.

“The parties’ approach to this action has been needlessly contentious from the beginning,” Marton wrote. “The parties are advised to confer with each other to ensure that concerns are addressed promptly.”

The judge chided Redflex for waiting until the last minute to file required pleadings, spending five hours uploading large documents beginning at midnight. The judge only took a shot at ATS for its failure to come to agreement with Redflex on a proposed protective order, even though both companies agreed with that the proceedings should be as secretive as possible. The judge felt otherwise.

“The parties assert that some financial information should be protected because they are market competitors,” Marton wrote. “They also reference trade secrets, but fail to provide specifics… Both parties move for leave to seal nearly everything submitted in connection with defendant’s motion for summary judgment. This is wholly inappropriate.”

Under federal law, trial materials may only be sealed if the court finds a “compelling reason” supported by fact, not merely the desire of the parties involved. Precedents are even more strict in cases such as this one where government contracting is involved.

“The compelling reason standard is particularly apt in this case because it involves allegations that the citizens’ public agencies were subjected to false advertising,” Marton wrote. “The parties make no attempt to describe the specific portions of documents that they believe meet this high standard. Remarkably, they also fail to explain why the citizenry should not even have access to the statements of fact and plaintiff’s response.”

The judge granted and denied various motions by both Redflex and ATS in equal measure. Redflex responded to the ATS onslaught by filing a lawsuit against ATS at the very end of last year.

“Redflex invokes Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act and state law to compel American Traffic Solutions, Inc. to cease-and-desist in perpetuating its campaign to deceive consumers and thwart fair competition in the marketplace by falsely advertising and promoting its photographic traffic law enforcement services on a worldwide basis,” Redflex wrote in its complaint. “Redflex also seeks both monetary and exemplary damages to hold ATS accountable for the injuries its willful misconduct has inflicted on Redflex, on consumers of photographic traffic law enforcement services, and on the public.”

Redflex charges that the ATS claim that its red light cameras and speed cameras are “Made in America” is false because the main photographic component is manufactured by Nikon, a Japanese firm. ATS responded last week that Redflex had made no legitimate claim under federal law.

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Arizona, Hungary, Maryland, UK: Speed Cameras Plagued by Accuracy Problems http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/arizona-hungary-maryland-uk-speed-cameras-plagued-by-accuracy-problems/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/arizona-hungary-maryland-uk-speed-cameras-plagued-by-accuracy-problems/#comments Sun, 24 Jan 2010 18:29:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=342834

Speed cameras worldwide were plagued by accuracy problems this week. In Scottsdale, Arizona, a black man received a white man’s tickets on five occasions. Because this man happened to be Larry Fitzgerald, one of the top wide receivers in the National Football League, his case was received the attention of TMZ. In five of six automated ticketing photographs mailed to Fitzgerald, who is black, a white man is unquestionably behind the wheel of a Cadillac Escalade.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety insists that a human police officer personally verifies the each and every photograph before it is issued. No such review took place for the alleged speeding incidents that took place August 23, August 27 (three tickets) and January 5. The identity of the driver in the sixth photo is uncertain. This is far from the first time such an incident has happened. In Louisiana, a white man received a black man’s ticket. In 2006, another Scottsdale black man received a white man’s ticket.

In Chevy Chase, Maryland, WTOP News reported that hundreds of duplicate speed camera citations are being generated as motorists drive past a fixed camera and a mobile unit parked right next to it. Despite a “rigorous” screening process conducted by the vendor that actually operates the program, a total of 174 duplicates were generated in the first three weeks of January alone. The Village cannot guarantee that only valid tickets were mailed.

“The duplicates are supposed to be eliminated, but some do slip through the screening process,” Police Chief Roy Gordon told WTOP.

A similar problem is apparent in the town of Pecs, Hungary where a man received two speed camera citations for the same alleged offense. The tickets were timestamped less than two minutes apart, Dunantuli Naplo reported.

In Nottingham, England, motorist Jeff Buck, 55, received two speed camera tickets while his car was parked outside his home on Watnall Road on December 13. According to The Nottingham Evening Post newspaper, police insisted that his immobile Vauxhall Zafira was traveling at 37 MPH in a 30 zone. Far from an isolated incident, parked cars through Australia and Europe have received speed camera tickets, including England, France and The Netherlands.

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Schwarzenegger Calls For $397m In Speed Camera Revenue http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/schwarzenegger-calls-for-397m-in-speed-camera-revenue/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/schwarzenegger-calls-for-397m-in-speed-camera-revenue/#comments Mon, 11 Jan 2010 16:31:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=341404 Busted! (courtesy:tothefloor.com)

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, desperately seeking new sources of revenue to cover a $19.9 billion budget shortfall, yesterday declared a state of fiscal emergency. As part of his proposed solution, Schwarzenegger called for the deployment of a massive statewide speed camera program to generate at least $397.5 million in net profit to state and local government.

Under the proposal, existing red light cameras at intersections would be converted into “speed on green” cameras that issue citations to motorists who try to speed up at an intersection to make the light. Those who slow down and fail to make the light will be mailed a red light camera ticket.

“Various federal rules are tying our hands and preventing us from reducing costs in some state programs,” Schwarzenegger explained at a news conference yesterday. “I want to remind the federal judges and the politicians California is not Washington. We do not have the luxury of printing money or running trillion-dollar deficits.”

Although it is not printing money, the existing network of over a thousand municipal automated ticketing machines are expected to print over two million citations each year. The corresponding revenue that would be split 85 percent for the state — an estimated $337.9 million in the first year — and 15 percent to municipalities — $59.6 million. These figures do not include the millions that the well-connected private companies that operate the photo ticketing programs will collect.

California law currently prohibits the use of speed cameras, but in 2008 Caltrans laid the groundwork for the governor’s program by researching technical aspects of deploying speed cameras on the state highway system. This is not the state’s first experience with photo radar. Beginning in 1988, Pasadena began issuing speed camera citations to be followed over the course of a decade by the cities of Campbell, National City, Oakland, Riverside and Roseville. The experiments were far from successful. Courts undermined the effort by ruling that citations could not be enforced without proper service.

“The court will no longer process photo-radar speeding tickets where a ticket is merely mailed to the registered owner of a vehicle,” Oakland Municipal Court Presiding Judge Stephen Dombrink said in January 1997.

As motorists learned that they could safely ignore tickets, they stopped paying in large numbers because the programs were as unpopular with the public as they were with the courts.

“We’ve been getting flipped off a lot,” said Riverside Police Sergeant Jay Theuer explained to the Press-Enterprise newspaper on January 14, 1994. “It’s been mostly a negative reaction.”

As revenue dried up, cities one-by-one dropped automated ticketing — with one exception. The legislature stepped in and banned speed cameras in 2000, but San Jose ignored this law and continued to allow a contractor to run a speed camera program until courts stepped in and began overturning citations in 2007.

Source: PDF File Excerpt from Governors Budget Summary 2010-11 (State of California, 1/8/2010)

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Redflex Profit Shrinks as Motorists Ignore Photo Tickets http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/redflex-profit-shrinks-as-motorists-ignore-photo-tickets/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/redflex-profit-shrinks-as-motorists-ignore-photo-tickets/#comments Wed, 23 Dec 2009 15:46:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=340014

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.

“Despite earlier expectations that the Arizona state-wide photo enforcement program would make a significant contribution to the year’s result, further deterioration in the rate of infringement detections and the revenue entitlement through collections has resulted in reduced expectations, both for the first half and for the full year,” the company admitted in a statement to Australian shareholders. “Many initiatives are under way to deal with the issues encountered, and we expect gradual improvement as these initiatives gain traction in the months ahead.”

The group CameraFraud has led a resistance effort to the use of freeway cameras in Arizona, causing a number of headaches for the troubled firm. Public pressure stoked by the group forced officials to scale back on the number of photo radar vans deployed to far less than half of the 200 units authorized by the statewide contract. Impromptu protests and the use of Post-It Notes on camera lenses have cut deeply into the ability of the devices that are deployed to issue tickets.

CameraFraud has also led an educational effort to inform motorists that they face no consequences if a citation mailed in Arizona is thrown in the trash. Under a 1992 state appeals court ruling, no ticket is valid unless it is served in person (view opinion). Motorists who dodge a process server for ninety days face no points, penalty or hit on their credit rating as the citation must be dismissed under state law.

A number of other problems plague Redflex. The company has spent a tremendous amount of money defending itself against a lawsuit from American Traffic Solutions which argues that the state of Arizona should never have awarded the Australian company a photo radar contract because at the time of bidding, Redflex had admittedly been using illegally imported radar equipment, in violation of federal law (view case). The company also cited the “high cost of lobbying” as Redflex invests foreign funds into American lawmakers to promote the expansion of photo enforcement throughout the country.

Despite the problems, Redflex remains a profitable company. The company’s bottom line, however, has narrowed to a mere $4 million net profit before tax for the first half of fiscal 2010. Redflex shares plunged ten percent from A$2.30 to $2.08 following the announcement.

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