Connecticut Rejects Speed Cameras

Glenn Swanson
by Glenn Swanson
connecticut rejects speed cameras

Back in early February, we reported that Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell was asking for funding for a pilot program of speed-detection cameras along a "treacherous" stretch of I-95. "Those who choose to break the rules of the road need to learn the hard way," said Rell. Today, The Hartford Courant is reporting "a high-profile defeat" for the Gov. Invoking fears of Big Brother, a legislative committee has rejected her plan after "an unusual philosophical discussion" over the rights of drivers and the power of government. The majority say the public's right to privacy outweighs the risks to public safety from speeding. State Rep. Ernest Hewett said "The camera will take a picture, and 10 seconds later, someone will get into a catastrophic accident. This is about revenue." Rep. Linda Orange said the bill was well-intentioned, "but it does violate civil rights." Representative James Shapiro says "Cameras aren't proven to make any one safer." What's more, "State surveillance of our law-abiding citizens is not an area in which I am looking for Connecticut to lead. A lot of other right-thinking people have made that judgment, and that's why these cameras have not caught on. Placing importance on our civil liberties is an American characteristic. Benjamin Franklin said the man who trades his liberty for temporary security deserves neither."

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  • Streever Streever on Mar 16, 2008

    How silly the legislator is! They consider driving private. It's funny because satellites are continually taking much higher quality pictures, and their are moving cameras on streets in New Haven RIGHT NOW taking live video & uploading it to television channels! The truth is that a stationary camera which is triggered by a ton+ of metal running a red light and snaps one single photo is not going to "impinge" on your freedoms. People who are against these are either unaware or want to break the law. It's simply inconceivable that they think a still camera, in a fixed position, is going to "invade" their privacy when we have moving satellites & free-positioned cameras taking pictures & video minute by minute. Nothing stops me from videotaping people driving by. Nothing stops me from setting up cameras on street corners. At the end of the day, if you are in a public spot doing something public (like driving a car) there is neither law nor precedent for you to be "private". You are not private. Driving is a regulated & licensed practice which is not a freedom--if it were a freedom, anyone could drive, whenever, with no checks or balances. The reality is you are required to possess insurance, pass tests, & demonstrate a certain level of competence & economic stability in order to drive a car. It is clearly neither a private action nor a right, and the sooner people realize that, the sooner they can approach this in an honest & realistic way. Jaydez: kudos for your honesty! You do want to speed, and feel entitled to it. You should spend 30 seconds doing research into how many people die per year due to speeding, and then you should ask yourself "How many of those people set out to kill someone?" The answer is probably pretty close to zero. I'm glad & thankful that your speeding has yet to kill or seriously injure anyone, but I do think that as you are so honest about your desire to speed, you should be honest that running red lights is probably a pretty risky activity, and it is good fortune that you haven't injured yourself or anyone else. Best, David Streever

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Mar 17, 2008

    Dear Mr. Streever, If you were more aware of the facts, you would be more understanding of those on the other side of your position. My personal position is that we should expect protection in the form of severe punishments and penalties for those who abuse these tools; however, there are many on the privacy side that have quite HONEST positions towards banning these devices. Not all these cameras are snap photo types, and they do not only see speeders. The technology does exist to use a full motion camera, video recognition, and databases to simply keep a report of EVERY car that passes them. This can be used, or abused, by anyone with access to the data. This can be used to track terrorists, kidnappers, thieves, or political adversaries. In the fine traditions of our country, many people do not want this level of power to tempt our leaders. Many people believe it is time for our laws to address the incredible new capabilities to invade our privacy that have now been developed. They are not a bunch of law breakers, they are Americans in the finest tradition. It's one thing for us to all live with the idea that other people can see us drive down the street. It is a whole other thing to live with the idea that other people have a record of everywhere we drive, at what time, by what route, and how quickly. Even if you don't care about the possible abuse by nefarious folks, you should care that the revenue grubbing governments on every level will now be able to fine you for EVERY infraction you make. Even if you are an excellent driver, do you honestly expect to keep your license (or be able to afford retirement) if you get nailed for EVERY infraction? How many victims do we need of this technology before we speak up? I already know one nice retired lady, with no record of bad driving or other malfeasance, who spent hours per week for several weeks, fighting a ticket from one of these cameras that accused her. The car in the photo was not owned by her, she had never owned a car of that model or even make, and the license plate was not close to hers. She was pretty well expected to prove she was innocent rather than the other way around. Lastly, freedom to move about the country is not a privilege. It so happens that driving is presently the only practical means to that end today. You might want to consider how "honest and realistic" you are being by assuming that there will be no government abuse of these devices.

  • Streever Streever on Mar 18, 2008

    "Even if you don’t care about the possible abuse by nefarious folks, you should care that the revenue grubbing governments on every level will now be able to fine you for EVERY infraction you make." Excellent! You can't make a case for breaking a driving law to me. I just look at the chart of fatalities & see the percentage of pedestrian death SOAR above 20 mph, and I wonder. Driving is not the only practical means to that today. Don't tell me something so stupid without knowing that I have clients 40 miles away, I visit them with a bike or mass-transit, and they have no idea that I am not driving. It is practical to get around without having the right to speed. As for my "lack of awareness", perhaps you should reconsider what you are speaking about: Perhaps I'm confused but the cameras that CT (Connecticut, the state we're talking about?) are NOT the "full motion anamatronic invader 1984 doom & gloom" cameras you are oh so worried about. Nor are they as mobile & easily used as satellites. Maybe you should go post on a state's comments where the cameras actually do the things you are worried about.

  • Streever Streever on Mar 21, 2008

    Let's assume, too that you have never seen this: maps What privacy? The genie has been let out of the bottle.