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.
Tag: Speed Camera
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Earlier this year the South Carolina General Assembly enacted a law that will make it even more difficult for red light camera and speed camera vendors to attempt to do business in the state. Under a provision that took effect on April 9, police are authorized to replace traditional handwritten citations with “electronic traffic tickets” designed to speed the roadside ticketing process. These electronic citations, however, cannot be used as part of a photo enforcement system.
As I noted yesterday, the intersection of automobiles and politics is a difficult area of analysis. In the United States, where motorists don’t face the daily challenges they do in Russia, discussions of politics in an automotive forum too often gets overwhelmed by larger political battles. Before you know it, a conversation about the future of electric cars can turn into a debate on military and foreign policy, and an auto-industry bailout can be justified by virtue of its small size relative to the bank bailout. In short, everything happens within a context, and politics is all about context. TTAC has always waded into political issues based on their relevance to cars, motorists, consumers and the industry, and we’ve held some fascinating explorations of political topics ranging from red-light and speed cameras and foreign oil dependence to anthropogenic climate change, bailouts and pay-per-mile tax schemes. In the interest of providing the right balance of big-picture and street-level issues in our coverage, we’re curious: what car-related political issues fascinate, concern or perplex you most?