There is more wacky traffic enforcement news coming out of Missouri this month than any other state. Last week, the Missouri attorney general began proceedings to shut down the ability of thirteen speed-trap-infested towns to generate excessive revenue from traffic tickets. Also last week, the cities of O’Fallon, Lake Saint Louis and St. Peters filed suit against St. Charles County saying its residents illegally voted for a ban on red light cameras. The suit actually admitted that the rationale was the potential loss of revenue rather than due to any safety concerns. Even better, the former mayor of St. Peters was convicted in 2006 of accepting cash kickbacks from a red light camera company. (For a truly astounding list of government officials who have been caught taking bribes from photo enforcement companies, go here.)
The big story is that the Missouri ACLU is going after the police department in the Kansas City suburb of Grain Valley for issuing tickets to motorists who tried to warn other drivers of speed-traps by flashing their headlights or high beams. My first thought was: wow, people really still do that? (Read More…)
I drive around 30,000 miles a year and so it is inevitable that I occasionally get stopped for speeding. Thanks to taking “Traffic Safety” schools that allow scofflaws like me to avoid having the infraction appear on my driving record, I have a spotless history: numerous arrests, no convictions.
A few weeks ago I blundered into a small-town speed trap while going 67 mph in a 50 mph zone, ignoring a radar detector signal that I wrongly assumed was false. Throw in the fact that it was at night and that I was in unfamiliar territory meant I absolutely deserved getting pulled over.
Little did I know that the online ticket-beating traffic school I chose to attend had a curriculum written for 10 year olds. (Read More…)
In January 2010 a Swiss court handed down a $290,000 fine on a traffic violation. To be sure , the violation in question was a big one and involved speeds approaching 180mph. Police say that, once they rolled in behind the speeding car, it took it nearly a half mile to come to a complete stop. Apparently the driver had avoided earlier detection by radar controlled cameras because his speed was so high that it exceeded the cameras’ ability to measure the car’s velocity. Despite the severity of the offense, it was not the car’s speed that caused the severity of the fine, it was the driver’s income. That’s an idea I think I could get behind. (Read More…)
The city of St Petersburg, Florida uses camera systems sold by American Traffic Solutions (ATS, formerly American Traffic Systems) to issue tickets to drivers allegedly running red lights. According to The Newspaper, when the activists at St Petersburg Red Light Cameras reviewed logs of the 21,602 photo tickets issued in the city from October 29, 2011 to April 30, 2012 they discovered that the ATS cameras were reporting that they “measured” Bugatti Veyron level speeds from cars not realistically capable of that kind of velocity.
With the release of the SciBaru FRZ just weeks away, everyone’s been caught up in the sticker price, available options and aftermarket support for the car, but nobody has asked a crucial question; what about insurance?
A bipartisan effort to overturn a controversial Ohio Supreme Court ruling garnered the support of twelve of the state Senate’s thirty-three members in just four days. Senators Tim Grendell (R-Chesterland) and Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard) jointly introduced legislation on Thursday that would forbid police from issuing speeding tickets based solely on the officer’s best speed guess.
How cruelly ironic is it that the UK, home of the world’s most vibrant sportscar cottage industry and some of the most notorious “petrolheads” in Europe, is also the world’s leader in automated ticketing and surveillance? Oh, and before you try to answer, understand that Old Blighty’s Orwellian tendencies have just hit a new high/low. The Telegraph [via Jalopnik] reports that Britain’s Home Office is testing new average speed cameras which combine license number-reading technology with a GPS receiver. In contrast to previous generations of speed cameras, the new system, named SpeedSpike, can calculate average speed between any two points in a network, rather than just in a straight line.
Enforcing laws against victimless crimes is never easy. Limited resources force local governments to constantly assess their law-enforcement priorities, assigning the squad cars and jail beds to the most pressing problems facing their jurisdiction. The problems that don’t make the cut? Unless there’s a revenue motive at play (see: red light cameras, speed cameras), local law enforcement often has little choice but to tolerate the breaking, or under-enforcement of certain laws. Which begs the question: on a scale of, say, murder to marijuana possession, just how bad is speeding?
Drivers in Georgia were hit for the first time last Friday with a new tax on speeding tickets designed to raise between $25 and $30 million in annual revenue for the general fund. The plan was modeled on the driver responsibility taxes in states like Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Texas. A similar plan in Virginia was so unpopular that legislators repealed the tax within six months and refunded all of the money that had been collected under the program.
A number of local jurisdictions in California have quietly turned to administrative citations for speeding tickets as a means of circumventing state law. The legislature had set down a very specific set of procedures for issuing and adjudicating traffic violations, including a split of the revenue for each ticket between the state, county, municipality and the court system. Cities like Newman now believe they can cut the state government out of the process.