The auditor general for New South Wales, Australia last month issued a report on speed camera use in the state. The Liberal Party government had ordered the review after it took power at the end of March. Following the results, thirty-eight camera locations have been taken offline.
As with the like-minded Conservative Party in the UK, NSW Liberals did not set out not to end the use of photo enforcement which generated 371,015 tickets worth $58,117,038 last year. Instead, the party’s leaders are taking steps reduce the number of cameras and reverse the ruling Labor Party policies that kept safety, operational and revenue data for individual cameras a closely guarded secret. No effort had been made to evaluate the program since 2005.
Voters in Bellingham, Washington are likely to have the final say in whether or not to continue using red light cameras and speed cameras. A Whatcom County Superior Court judge yesterday threw out the attempt by photo enforcement vendor American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to immediately block the measure from being considered. The court believes ATS has an uphill battle to prove its case.
“ATS has not demonstrated that it will suffer immediate and irreparable injury if the temporary restraining order is not granted,” Judge Steven Mura ruled. “ATS’s motion for a temporary restraining order is denied.”
The one man most responsible for the spread of red light cameras in the United States is now enjoying the fruit of his labor. Richard A. Retting was New York City’s deputy assistant commissioner for traffic safety programs as the Big Apple considered becoming the first in the US to operate intersection cameras. Planning for the program began in 1983 and continued through 1991 when then-Mayor David Dinkins activated the system. For this achievement, Retting was dubbed the father of the red light camera in America, and today he is earning money directly from the systems that have followed New York’s lead. (Read More…)
Drivers who pass a photo radar location frequently drop their speed far below the legal limit to be absolutely certain no citation will come in the mail weeks later. In response, officials in Valencia, Spain have begun issuing photo tickets to drivers who are moving “too slow.” Motorist Jesus Llorens received just such ticket in the mail on June 14 for sluggish driving past a camera in an Opel Vectra. The alleged offense happened in February at 11am in the tunnel of the Avenida del Cid.
The UK government on Sunday officially terminated the policy of concealing safety and revenue information for individual speed camera locations. The Labour government had held this information secret, but Road Safety Minister Mike Penning, a member of the Conservative Party, insisted on making it readily available to the public online.
“We want to improve accountability and make sure that the public are able to make informed judgments about the decisions made on their behalf,” Penning said in a statement. “So if taxpayers’ money is being spent on speed cameras then it is right that information about their effectiveness is available to the public.”
A November study by the University of Adelaide recommended that a commission be established to review the placement and use of speed cameras in South Australia. Last month, the state parliament rejected any suggestion that policies relating to automated ticketing could be questioned.
As part of a parliamentary internship program, a research report reviewed existing research and applied the findings to the road safety situation in South Australia. The results were provided to Ivan Venning, a Liberal Party member of House of Assembly, who attempted on May 19 to win approval for a select committee to examine the use and effectiveness of photo enforcement. During debate, Venning pointed out several other states were currently conducting reviews of their own.
Today’s sign of the times comes courtesy of the world of social media, and calls into question some of our most basic assumptions about the world of cars. France, it seems, experienced a 12.8% increase in on-road fatalities in the first quarter of this year, and the New York Times reports that the French government is responding by banning devices that scan the road ahead for speed camera radar waves.
A decade ago, the death rate on French roads was among the worst in Europe, and the government reacted in 2002 with what some drivers called repressive tactics. Radar cameras were erected at intersections throughout the country, which captured a motorist’s license plate if the car surpassed the speed limit by more than 5 kilometers an hour (3 m.p.h.), deducted points off a motorist’s license and sent a fine through the mail.
The measures were deemed successful. The International Transport Forum said France achieved a reduction of 47 percent in its road-death toll in the first decade of the century, relative to the 1990s. The ministerial report said the average speed in France also dropped 10 kilometers an hour since 2002, or 11.7 percent.
The radar cameras, however, spawned a thriving market in radar-warning devices. According to AFFTAC, 5.1 million drivers in France use them. Under the new law, users would face fines of up to 1,500 euros, or about $2,100.
The French government’s decision to not only ban radar detectors, but also to remove signs warning motorists of fixed radar cameras has generated some serious backlash. Apparently over 80,000 people “liked” the Facebook page of AFFTAC, a group opposing the measures and calling for nationwide protests, over the course of two days. By comparison, the most optimistic count of hand-raisers for a possible future Chevy El Camino is “possibly as high as 18,000 people.” Call us crazy, but we thought America’s oft-cited “love affair with the automobile” would have created some slightly different results.
The employee of a photo enforcement firm was arrested in Victoria, Australia yesterday after being accused of adjusting the speed readings in a database of photo tickets. Police believe the man identified as a 36-year-old from Craigieburn changed the date, time, speeds and other variables on a total of 67,541 red light camera and speed camera citations. The data were altered between February and March while the man worked for Serco, the private firm in charge of ticketing operations.
Millions of dollars paid by motorists in red light camera and speed camera fines end up in the pockets of a handful of individuals. In the United States, American Traffic Solutions (ATS) is responsible for about 41 percent of the nation’s photo enforcement business, but as a private company its dealings are well concealed from public scrutiny. Based on a review of documents marked “confidential — attorneys’ eyes only,” the ATS leadership team has reaped significant personal profit in a short amount of time.
A federal appellate court ruled Tuesday that a portion of a lawsuit against the red light camera and speed camera program in Cleveland, Ohio could proceed. Daniel McCarthy and Colleen Carroll argued that the city had unconstitutionally deprived them of their property after the Parking Violations Bureau fined them $100 when the municipal traffic camera ordinance did not give the city any authority to impose a fine on someone who leases his vehicle. A district court judge threw out the case, but the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit found merit in the state law aspects of their argument.
Morale at Redflex Traffic Systems, the Australian photo enforcement company with more contracts in the United States than any other firm, has never been lower. Yesterday, the company faced the real possibility that the state government in Victoria, Australia would sue for the recovery of $15 million in citations issued by a faulty Redflex freeway speed camera system. Although the government currently refuses to issue refunds, it issued equally stern denials before giving in to public pressure by refunding $26 million worth of tickets over a high-profile accuracy failure in 2003.
A motorist is using federal anti-racketeering statutes to go after the red light camera and speed camera program in Tempe, Arizona. Dan Gutenkauf filed his complaint last week in the US District Court for the District of Arizona and happened to land the same judge, Frederick J Martone, who presided over the recent American Traffic Solutions (ATS) vs. Redflex case which is currently under appeal. The suit names Redflex employees, police officials, politicians and judges as defendants.
“I feel this lawsuit is very comprehensive and I have spent a lot of time over the last two years doing the legal research, gathering evidence and drafting the complaint,” Gutenkauf told TheNewspaper. “And I have my appeal victory from the lower court propelling me into federal court.”
The mayor of Ridgeland, South Carolina is taking a stand in defiance of a state law that bans the use of speed cameras anywhere in the state (view law). Mayor Gary W. Hodges earlier this month began issuing speeding tickets based on evidence provided by an automated traffic system set up in a recreational vehicle parked on Interstate 95 despite warnings from lawmakers.
“The program is up and running,” Hodges announced at an August 12 meeting. “There are those at various levels who think this is a bad thing — I for the life of me can’t figure out why people have a problem with this.”
Ridgeland, South Carolina wants to deploy a speed camera to ticket out-of-state drivers as they pass through the seven-mile stretch of interstate within the tiny town’s limits. The plan angered the state legislature to such a degree that it unanimously enacted legislation in June to prohibit photo enforcement — except during declared state emergencies (view law). The Ridgeland town council refused to back down.