By on November 2, 2009

MA Governor Patrick Deval (courtesy 2.bp.blogspot.com)

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D) on Thursday outlined his plan to reduce the state’s $600 million deficit and help struggling municipalities by, among several other revenue raising measures, installing red light cameras. The governor’s proposed fiscal year 2010 budget amendments would eliminate an existing state law forcing police officers to issue traffic citations personally. Under the new legislation, any jurisdiction in the commonwealth could give private, for-profit companies the right to issue $100 traffic tickets.

Although some lawmakers had proposed red light camera authorization bills in the past sessions, the measures have never succeeded. Patrick’s quiet inclusion of the measure in must-pass legislation gives the proposal new momentum. Photo enforcement firms encouraged the move by giving lawmakers $10,245 in campaign donations. Australia’s Redflex Traffic Systems gave $1800 to Patrick and state legislators, Affiliated Computer Services gave $7445 and Nestor Traffic Systems, now American Traffic Solutions, gave $1000. National Motorists Association researcher John Carr said that introduction of the legislation as part of the budget process was a sign that Patrick’s primary concern is monetary.

“Red light cameras have a long track record of making roads more dangerous,” Carr told TheNewspaper. “The governor isn’t even pretending this is about safety. He is risking the lives of the public out of no motive other than pure greed.”

In 2006, residents of Swampscott rejected red light cameras in a town meeting. The town had formed a special committee to investigate whether traffic cameras would benefit the town. It concluded that although such a system would generate $490,000 in revenue, the number of accidents would increase (view report).

Patrick’s proposal would enforce payment of the automated citations by suspending the driver’s license and vehicle registration of owners who fail to pay after two tickets are sent to his last known address. The suspensions remain in effect until the tickets and late penalties are paid in full, in addition to a $40 reinstatement fee that is split between the municipality and the state. The proposal also allows localities to seize or boot vehicles for non-payment.

Cities implementing a camera program would submit an annual report to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation detailing the number of citations issued, the number found guilty by an administrative hearing and the amount of revenue generated by the program.

Patrick’s proposal must be approved by the state House and Senate before becoming law.

[courtesy thenewspaper.com]

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19 Comments on “MA Gov. Patrick: Lower State Deficit with Red Light Camera Revenue...”


  • avatar

    Mass residents call Deval Patrick’s office and let him know what you think: 617-725-4005

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    While I recognize the statistics involved, I still can’t see how red light cameras increase accidents. Is this another case of correlation without causation? I’m not in favor of cameras for other reasons, but I don’t understand the safety issue. I know that I’m more respectful of yellow lights at intersections with cameras.

  • avatar
    TheRealQuaid

    You could call but I doubt he cares.

    The fact that due process goes out the window with these cameras/citations and that yellow light times could decrease makes it even more suspicious.

    This really shouldn’t be something sneaked into a budget like this.

    MA voters aren’t to bright in the sense that we could have gotten rid of the income tax last election but the voters said no and for comic relief we recently got a sales tax increase!

    Get ready for red light cameras Massachusetts as this will be rubber stamped by BeCON Hill!

  • avatar
    ohsnapback

    Just to be absolutely clear, if you and yours think that these insidious cameras, which can be mounted just about anywhere, and can record not only your car and its tags, but also you, whether or not you are in your car or walking down the street, don’t pose a major threat and assault on your personal liberties and expectation of privacy, you must have read Orwell’s ‘1984’ with gleeful anticipation.

  • avatar
    mcs

    @ClutchCarGo
    I know that I’m more respectful of yellow lights at intersections with cameras.

    That’s where the problems start happening. I agree, people are more respectful of yellows, but that means that at the slightest glint of yellow, the brakes get jammed on hard. You just have to pray that the car behind you isn’t one of the aging Crown Vic Boston taxis that are still on the road.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    ClutchCarGo:

    The causation is that the knowledge of red light cameras will make a motorist slam the brakes at a yellow light where he would have normally driven safely through. The shortening of the duration of the yellow that is often associated with the cameras further exacerbates the problem. As has been reported on this site and elsewhere, the result is more rear-end collisions.

    If the states/cities/whatever need more cash, just freaking raise taxes already. I’d prefer that over this Russian-roulette type collection system any day, not to mention all the overhead wasted in installing and administering the camera systems, as well as the profits that get skimmed off by the private camera companies. These are all issues the public should care about, even if we ignore the infringement on our liberty.

  • avatar
    geeber

    The amusing part is that many of those who ran around squawking “Halliburton! Halliburton!” as a substitute for rational debate regarding the Bush Administration’s policies will swallow this blatant example of government getting into bed with a private company to fleece citizens without a peep.

  • avatar
    Highway27

    ClutchCarGo,

    The mechanisms for increasing accidents by Red Light Cameras are two-fold. One is just a consequence of the camera being there, the other is far more nefarious.

    The natural one is that frequently people don’t change their approach speed. This is problematic in that signal timings and sight distance are based on the design speed of the road, and if the sight distance is on the edge of acceptable for the posted speed, then it’s too short for the increased speed that many will go. Now, that’s a problem for any intersection. You’ll have people who come through, see it change to yellow, and know it’s close but dangerous to stop. So they’ll go through the light anyway, maybe .2-.3 seconds late. This isn’t much of a problem most places, due to other drivers paying attention and to the all-red time at most intersections.

    But the red light camera adds another factor in: If you go through on even a bang-bang red, you’ll pay the full fine. So the same person, seeing the yellow, will go into a hard brake. And the car following behind might hit them. The red light camera changed the equation.

    The far more nefarious answer is that there are recorded instances of municipalities and the camera operators monkeying with the signal timing. This is a vile response to their not getting enough revenue out of a camera. Profits aren’t high enough, so they compromise the safety of all motorists to ‘catch’ more people who run red lights.

    Honestly, I think that Red Light Cameras as a concept are a great idea to help prevent red light running by people who would habitually do it. I think placing plenty of warning signs up at problem intersections, making the camera obvious, and making sure that the signal timing is right for the site would do a great job at raising awareness of the issue. The problem is that they’ve been perverted in search of revenue (I mean, look at what this story is!!!) for our greedy, never-satisfied governments.

  • avatar
    ptr2void

    Heaven forfend this despicable character actually makes some significant cuts to the bloated hack fiefdoms of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Together we can!

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Public safety is not as important as revenues. Welcome to Mass.

    An interesting political question: How many Democrat v. Republican cities/municipalities/states is this issue being pushed and is there a difference in the total number of Dem v. Rep run governments on this issue.

    In the past, the answer would be clear, but the Republicans have lost their way.

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    Increase Green light times by 1.25 and Yellow light times by 1.5 and see if the red light running plunges. If cameras are installed, set no sooner than 3 seconds after red.

    Re-do the speed limits to the 85 percentile and see if speeding plunges. If cameras are installed, set no slower than 12.5mph above the speed limit

    Where speed is truly a safety issue, use Observed Speed signage and gently elevated crosswalks.

  • avatar
    Modrick

    So being a Mass. resident my question is, does stuff I link below really work?

    http://www.ontrackcorp.com/photo-stopper.cfm?id=06

  • avatar
    Highway27

    Another thing I’ve been wondering about red light cameras is where the ‘trip’ point for the photo is. Legally, if your entire vehicle is in the intersection when it turns red, you have entered the intersection legally and therefore have the right-of-way to clear it.

    Given this, it’s very easy to get a photo showing a red signal with a car underneath it. The key point is where the decision was made for the camera to take a picture. I certainly wouldn’t put it past these revenue-seeking vultures to monkey with that location. If the actuation point for the red light camera is *not* on the stop bar, but some distance into the intersection, you’re clipping a bunch of people who have done everything legally.

    Another thing I’ve read about, albeit a rather long time ago, was the equally shady practice of snapping cars that had only partially crossed the stop bar. The story I read was a judge upholding tickets and fines for the folks who stood on the brakes and ended up partway over the stop bar. Only in the most poorly done intersections would this have any bearing on safety, but it’s not about safety. It’s about cash in the pocket of the government.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Highway 27:

    In our city, a team of two police officers review all red light violations recorded to weed out questionable ones like those mentioned by you. The bigger question is how does it know to snap a picture of your vehicle, particualrly for the most popular ticket turning right without coming to a full stop? Once agian, where I live, it has two sensors as you approach the intersection to determine the speed of the car then a sensor to determine when you crossed the cross walk to make the right hand turn. If you begine the right hand turn too soon per these sensors, you didn’t come to a full stop, and you have a very expensive picture taken of you and your car.

  • avatar
    Hognose

    Patrick is a typically corrupt politician. His first acts in officer were to blow almost $40k on drapes (drapes!) and reject the official gubernatorial Crown Vic cop car (which was good enough for dekamillionaire Romney). Then he displayed his bad taste by getting a Cadillac DS or whatever the Sedan de Ville successor is called. He put a servant for his wife on the state payroll.

    If these things don’t bring in the $$ rapidly enough, the moral lepers at Redflex and Nestor will cross his palms with another $10k in bribes “campaign contributions” and they’ll go to a 0.4 second yellow time like they tend to do elsewhere.

    Next week is an election week some places. Vote early and vote against. Doesn’t matter, “against whom?” — They’re all crooks.

  • avatar
    dejal

    How about putting speeding cameras on every overpass over the passing lane of every limited access highway in the state.

    It would be fun for someone doing 85 on the Mass Pike from the New York line all the way to Boston. They would get a ticket everytime they went under a bridge.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Suppose your car is on its last legs. Nobody will buy it and no dealer will take it in trade. Just make a habit of stopping for every red light you can. It won’t be long before somebody rear ends you. Then, you can sell it to his insurance company for top price. The red light camera gives you a gold plated excuse. “I didn’t want to get a ticket for running the red.”

  • avatar
    vento97

    ptr2void:
    Together we can!

    As long as the voting public keep electing candidates from the same two parties, that slogan might as well read:

    “Together we can assume the position and say – Thank you sir, may I have another…”

    Democrats and Republicans – First-world prosperity for themselves, third-world prosperity for the rest of us….

  • avatar
    vento97

    Kendahl:
    Suppose your car is on its last legs. Nobody will buy it and no dealer will take it in trade. Just make a habit of stopping for every red light you can. It won’t be long before somebody rear ends you. Then, you can sell it to his insurance company for top price. The red light camera gives you a gold plated excuse. “I didn’t want to get a ticket for running the red.”

    Excellent scenario! Kinda like “Cash For Clunkers” – but it’s on the dime of the one entity which stands to profit from the speed cameras – BIG INSURANCE! I like it…

    Let that big dog bite it’s own tail this time…:)

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