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Astroturfing For Speed Cameras

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the well-lookie-lookie dept.

Government 342

New submitter dalosla writes "Chicago's mayor is pushing to change red light cameras near schools and parks into speed cameras. Just about everybody sees it as a cash grab by the city. Today's Chicago Tribune has an article about how the expanded speed camera program would benefit Redflex, the company Greg Goldner, one of the mayor's long time political supporters, lobbies for. This is of merely local interest, but of wider interest in the article would be information about Goldner's astroturfing for Redflex around the country. Redflex is the sole financial supporter for the Traffic Safety Coalition, a 'grassroots' organization to promote more traffic camera usage and fight any attempts to restrict such cameras. Goldner has already successfully facilitated the killing of one anti-camera ballot measure in Texas."

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City overpaying? (4, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 2 years ago | (#39340937)

It appears that the cameras for this system are already in place, they just need a software update to judge speeds in addition to the red light function they already have. This should be cheap to do, so how much is the city of Chicago paying this politically connected man to do this? Is it a fair price, or payback for campaign contributions?

Re:City overpaying? (4, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341191)

"The Chicago way," and it's been like that since at least prohibition. Chicago is perhaps the most corrupt city in the US. Note that both previous Illinois governors are in federal prison for corruption? Both are Chicagoans.

No politician in Chicago does anything whatever that his cronies don't get a cut of. It's horible, and unfortunately affects the rest of the state as well.

If everything north of I-80 were deemed a new state, most of Illinois' problems would go away.

Re:City overpaying? (0, Troll)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341343)

Don't forget the current President is also a Chicagoan, and he's obviously corrupt.

Re:City overpaying? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341463)

"The Chicago way," and it's been like that since at least prohibition. Chicago is perhaps the most corrupt city in the US.

No, the most corrupt city in the US is Washington DC.
I think that was the city GL was thinking of when he made Obi Wan speak the words "Mos Eisly (aka Congress) the most wretched hive of scum and villainy".

Re:City overpaying? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341493)

I really hate the fact that Chicago was a more civilized and law-abiding city under Capone's rule than it has been since.

Re:City overpaying? (2)

DoomHaven (70347) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341831)

I'm going to play Devil's Advocate here: what's wrong with the "The Chicago Way" style of corruption?

No, seriously. Hear me out.

There are two ways to do a project: follow a proper process to determine who should do a project (advertising the project, getting tenders, proposal analysis), or corruptly award the project to a campaign contributor. Let us make one assumption: end result is of the same or similar cost, quality and delivery date between the two companies. I consider that to be a fair statement, as most "process" chosen candidates simply game the process until they win, and then inflate costs and delivery dates after the fact. If cost( proper_process ) + cost( properly_chosen_company ) > cost( corruptly_chosen_company ) + cost( corruption_incidentals ), why not go with corruption?

After living in Chicagoland for half a decade, I have to admit that Shit Got Done in Chicago. It may have been morally bankrupt, but it worked.

Re:City overpaying? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341849)

Chicago is perhaps the most corrupt city in the US. Note that both previous Illinois governors are in federal prison for corruption? Both are Chicagoans.

Connecticut might get it for most corrupt state, though. Count up former mayors and governor(s) who did or are doing time, coupled with yearly police corruption scandals in New Haven. And Hartford is the "Insurance Capital" - coincidence?

Re:City overpaying? (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341855)

I thought it was any city in Louisiana! Or maybe Georgia where the police profit by confiscation of property.

Re:City overpaying? (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341227)

The cameras typically used (country wide, I have no specific knowledge of Chicago) can be set to trigger at virtually any speed on a permitted right turn on red [latimes.com] . So they can set it to catch a one mile per hour rolling stop, and issue a ticket even when there is zero cross traffic.

They are focused on small areas, the intersection. So the only place they monitor speed is in the intersection, and the only speeders they will catch there are the ones trying to beat the short yellows that have been put in place to raise revenue.
Going thru the intersection at 5 over to beat the light does not cause accidents, because cross traffic is already stopped, pedestrians are not permitted to be crossing at that time. Further the speeding can only occur when there is no traffic ahead, and the speeder will have to slow down as soon as they catch up to traffic.

In short, the only use case is to catch those trying to beat the short yellow.

This issue is starting to hit the main stream press in Chicago, and the mayor is currently in "no comment" mode over his relationship with Goldner. But Chicago being Chicago, this will probably be pushed through regardless.

Re:City overpaying? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341533)

Many of these red light cameras have been driven out of town by proving they do not adhere to the national highway safety standard of 4-second yellow lights.
The cameras are deliberately defaulting (on installation) to 3 and 2 second yellows, to raise ticket revenue.
Once you force them to 4 second yellows, the company wants to pull out their cameras and install them in another town...

Re:City overpaying? (1, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341847)

A "rolling stop" is not a stop. It's running the red light, but in slow motion, and it's against the law.

When you have to accelerate from a dead stop to make the turn, you're more likely to check the crosswalks, rather than just look to see if you can make the turn before any oncoming traffic gets there.

the only speeders they will catch there are the ones trying to beat the short yellows that have been put in place to raise revenue.

You're assuming that the only reason to speed through an intersection is to beat the yellow. A driver could just be speeding because that's what they've been doing for the past dozen blocks.

Going thru the intersection at 5 over to beat the light does not cause accidents, because cross traffic is already stopped, pedestrians are not permitted to be crossing at that time.

Then once you leave the intersection, you're still speeding down the same road. Are drivers really going to hit their brakes after getting through the light, so they're driving legally again? Of course not. They'll coast back down to whatever speed they want to go, with no concern for pedestrian safety.

There is no point where speeding only a little or for a purpose is legal. There is no point where a rolling stop is legally equal to a full stop. Why should the cameras offer any leniency? Would you accept the same leniency in an elevator that came to a rolling stop at your floor?

what's a mob without pitcforks and torches? (0)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341325)

I think it's high time the people's champion, Anonymous, convene a flash mob to go all Cool Hand Luke on these UN-American red light cameras.
you know, for the LULZ...

Re:what's a mob without pitcforks and torches? (2)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341473)

Pretty sure there's already enough guns in the Chicago schools. Just have the kids shoot the cameras out.

Re:what's a mob without pitcforks and torches? (5, Informative)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341531)

The accepted method in the UK is to loop an old tire over the camera, fill it with gasoline, and set fire to it.

http://www.speedcam.co.uk/gatso2.htm [speedcam.co.uk]

Re:what's a mob without pitcforks and torches? (2)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341629)

I get the above is humor, but what I don't get is how someone goes "Cool Hand Luke" on someone. Near as I cal tell, the notable things about Cool Hand Luke are that he got the crap beat out of him by George Kennedy, he can bluff at poker, he ate 50 eggs, he successfully ran away from prison a few times, he got the crap beat out of him by prison guards, and he got shot in the neck. Which one of those are you suggesting the flash mob do?

Think of the children! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39340985)

This will probably continue for the same reason DUI laws keep getting more draconian - everyone is scared that if they speak against it they will be lambasted as uncaring assholes - which doesn't make for good campaigning. And good luck fighting any tickets you receive in a school zone, you insensitive bastard. You''re putting all of our kids at risk!

Re:Think of the children! (5, Insightful)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341133)

I boycott these cash generation schemes by stopping at red lights and not going over the speed limit. That'll teach the bastards! Lets see how long they stay up with no revenue being generated!

Re:Think of the children! (5, Insightful)

sanosuke001 (640243) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341215)

I honestly have no problem with the cameras themselves its the 1. lowering yellow light durations and 2. the "fees" required by the outsourced company. Keep yellow lights at a still safe level and do the camera work in-house and I'd be delighted to install these. I don't speed or run red lights anyway; make money off the other people on the road, less taxes for me!

Re:Think of the children! (1)

kid_wonder (21480) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341457)

First they came for the Red Light Runners
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Red Light Runner.
Then they came for the Speeders
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Speeder.
Then they came for the No Signal Lane Changers
and I did not speak out
because I was not a No Signal Lane Changer.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Then they came for me (0)

glodime (1015179) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341843)

"Then they came for me" ...because I was recklessly breaking the law too.

Good boy! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341401)

I boycott these cash generation schemes by stopping at red lights and not going over the speed limit.

Then you don't understand the subject, didn't RTFA, don't understand corruption, love collisions, know little or nothing about physics or math or safety, live in a town of less than 25,000 and always carry a clean handkerchief.

In other words, you depend upon others to create a "just" society for you to live in and you have nothing of value to say or do about this subject.

Re:Think of the children! (4, Interesting)

Whorhay (1319089) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341537)

The funny thing is that this is what happened in LA. They shut down their red light camera system because it wasn't generating enough revenue, which is funny because they are usually promoted as a safety issue not revenue.

Re:Think of the children! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341165)

You''re putting all of our kids at risk!

Tell me about it. The last thing my kid can afford is a $100 speeding ticket.

Re:Think of the children! (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341525)

And the $400 a year auto insurance premium increase.

Example in Italy, and a simple solution (5, Interesting)

gadget junkie (618542) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341189)

I wonder if it has already been tried in the US of A, but there's a solution to this speed camera problem, which is widespread here in Italy:

1. the community must actually buy the equipment in an open bidding contest;
2. payment for the equipment is upfront, and any variable fee, maintenance fee etc. is prohibited, to avoid the "tax farming" problem;
3.[this is the neat one] when writing the budget, the community is absolutely forbidden to write in a single penny of expected revenue from speed camera, and any revenue must be written in at the year end as general proportional tax credit for the citizens, and by citizens I mean the ones who paid the taxes to build the road in question; in the case of an Interstate, all the money goes to the federal government.
4. penalty for noncompliance is loss of eligibility for election or work in any goverment owned or controlled entity. If the decision was taken by a committee, all the members willbe subject to said penalty.

If you implement all these resolutions, the political morons will not put speed camera in place, because, to all intent and purposes, they cannot spend the money; to actually spend the speed tickets income as they like, they must first pass a rise in other taxes to accomodate that income, receive it, spend it , and then use the ticket fund to lower the taxation again without being able to move that money about at will. Moreover, they'll have to fight to own the roads, meaning being responsible for the upkeep, and liable for any defect.

Re:Example in Italy, and a simple solution (1)

digitalsolo (1175321) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341363)

That sounds like a FANTASTIC idea. As such, it's reasonable to assume it will never be implemented in the US.

I've long had issue with the fact that the people who profit from writing tickets are the people who write the tickets, and the people who decide guilt regarding the tickets. That's an intrinsically broken system, and is guaranteed to be exploited. The concept you explained above does as much to divorce them as is reasonable possible.

Re:Example in Italy, and a simple solution (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341395)

That may work for you in Italy, because obviously your government is far less corrupt than our own (which is bad, considering Italy doesn't exactly have a sterling reputation with regards to corruption). Here in the USA, what you speak of is completely impossible; there's no way the various governments (state, local, etc.) would agree to such terms. How would it help them?

Re:Example in Italy, and a simple solution (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341529)

Nobody ever suggests this, but maybe just don't speed. If nobody ever exceeded the speed limit except in a genuine emergency situation, there wouldn't be a rationale for this kind of response. I understood perfectly well why people would not want to obey the 55MPH speed limit on roads and in cars that were designed for 70, but now those places _do_ have a very reasonable and realistic 75MPH limit anyway. We're talking about surface streets in a very urban area, where the speed limit *should* be very low, and where large numbers of people choose to ignore that.

Re:Example in Italy, and a simple solution (2)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341599)

Law enforcement needs to be prohibited from having a profit motive. If they profit from certain behavior, they are no longer doing "law enforcement" ... they're a business at that point. You can call it "revenue enhancement" or "budget augmentation," but it's still a stinky turd.

I have often proposed the Red Light Lottery. Fines collected from red light cameras need to be removed from the municipality's purview entirely. If you put it in the General Fund, which at first glance seems to benefit all, you'll shorty discover that the law enforcement budget is fudged somewhere else to net-out the money. To be effective, the money must be removed from the politicians' hands. The only recourse is to return it to the people. In the Red Light Lottery, every month some number of non-citation-receiving drivers are eligible to "win" a percentage of the fee pool. The state isn't allowed to take a cut, nor is it allowed to tax said lottery windfall at 99%.

Yeah, I know ... won't happen. Politicians won't ever do something like this because it damages their ability to be in control. If they had to issue a bond referendum every time they wanted to install these red light cameras, there would be rioting in the streets. That's why they finance the things through the manufacturers, paying a percentage of the take indefinitely.

Re:Example in Italy, and a simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341631)

FYI, the state of California has some laws that make this impossible.

Re:Think of the children! (1, Troll)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341279)

Actually, you are more likely to kill a kid when travelling above those posted limits. You're eight times more likely to kill someone at 50km/h vs. 30km/h. [safekidscanada.ca]

If you want to speed out on the Interstate, go right ahead man, that's your call. Nobody lives there. Going 60 in a school zone because you're running late isn't okay. Kids are unpredictable (and don't learn how to deal with cars until they're between 9 and 11 years old), odds are you're texting and not paying attention, and cars take time to slow down. If someone runs in front of your car, you will hit them because you can't stop in time. That's just simple physics.

And no, you are not a better driver. You're unskilled and unaware. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Think of the children! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341511)

Kids are unpredictable (and don't learn how to deal with cars until they're between 9 and 11 years old)

That's funny, most kids are taught to look both ways before crossing the street in kindergarten.

Re:Think of the children! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341641)

Totally missing the point

The problem is that usually the uellow is finely tuned so that if you enter the crossing and keep under the posted limit you'll get a ticket, because the camera gets you even if you've engaged the crossing at a legit time if you're still within the crossing area.

A way to get out of trouble was to smash the gas if the light turned yellow abd you where in the crossing. With speed measure in and a slow school speed limit, you can very well engage the crossing at green and get ticketed because it switch yellow and red before you have a chance to clear it.

The West can fight this very, very easily... (4, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341007)

... or, really, anywhere with a ballot initiative process.

Citizens should push for ballot initiatives that require that all money collected for traffic and parking offenses goes back to the citizens as a tax credit. This should have broad popular support in most places.

Yeah, the police/DoT would have to raise taxes to replace the lost revenue... but it would create a system where they have no fiscal incentive to engage in highway robbery, which is what traffic enforcement these days amounts to.

Re:The West can fight this very, very easily... (1)

Widowwolf (779548) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341155)

So they just keep upping your taxes more and more every year..Why push for a vendor to bid when you can just tax John Q Public. That and they will still commit Highway robbery in the forms of traps or BS tickets. You realize a $25 dollar ticket in California can run you over $100 in court costs and fee's.

Re:The West can fight this very, very easily... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341199)

It seems like an easy concept, sadly though, citizens pushing ballots is not "very very easy". At least not until the 99% pull their head out of their ass and realize they control 99% of the votes. Until then we'll keep throwing money and corporations that lobby elected officials, and provide no real benefit for the general public as a whole. Land of the free and home of the brave! Woo!

Re:The West can fight this very, very easily... (3, Insightful)

Walterk (124748) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341247)

You'd think this, but over in Europe, there's a few countries (at least the UK) that use the cash generated from speed and red light cameras that goes straight into the Treasury's coffers and used to try and plug any deficits to little avail. The knock on effect from this is that the police need to catch at least the same number of people or more to commit a traffic violation in order to keep the country's finances in check. This of course means quotas.

The end result? Government mandated highway robbery.

Re:The West can fight this very, very easily... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341379)

Best answer ever on this sort of thing:

When asked by a reporter from the base newspaper if there was a quota for the base police to issue speeding tickets, the base commander responded, ``Yes. 100%. Speeding or any other sort of traffic violation will not be tolerated. Everyone who speeds is to be caught and issued a ticket.''

Re:The West can fight this very, very easily... (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341469)

How about we get all citizens together and decide that speeding is bad for everyone and no one should do it?

The only other option is to allow speeding everywhere, which I would be happy about. I'd never drive again, or walk near roads, but at least I'd have an informed choice.

Speeders don't give a shit about anyone but themselves. Their selfish grasp at an extra minute in front of the TV is worth an extra 10mph, in their eyes. They say things like "Fuck the government, they can't tell me how fast I live life" and "The Man is killing my fun" like it's a game.

Don't like getting caught? Fucking do one.

Re:The West can fight this very, very easily... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341553)

Sorry, recent Washington State Supreme Court decision upholds red-light cameras, despite a local ballot initiative to prohibit them.

Patronage? (4, Funny)

lax-goalie (730970) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341013)

Political patronage in Chicago?

I'm shocked!

Chicago? (5, Informative)

srussia (884021) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341051)

Say no more--oh, wait, just one more thing, that "Chicago mayor" is none other than Rahm Emanuel.

Re:Chicago? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341203)

Who?

Re:Chicago? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341231)

You know... President Obama's best buddy and former Chief of Staff.

Re:Chicago? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341591)

Moderation +1
    30% Informative
    40% Flamebait
    30% Insightful

Always my goal.

Re:Chicago? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341257)

facepalm

Re:Chicago? (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341333)

Who?

Rahm Emanuel was Obama's chief of staff. He left the white house, and ran for mayor of Chicago. He has a reputation as a fairly "clean" politician (at least by Chicago standards) and someone who gets stuff done. Many people were hoping that he could finally rid Chicago of the corruption that came with a half century of the Daley family. So there is quite a bit of disappointment to see that he is engaging in much of the same kind of sleaze as his predecessors.

Re:Chicago? (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341349)

Who?

Rahm Emanuel was President Obama's Cheif of Staff and senior advisor. Basically, Emanuel was to Obama what Karl Rove was to Bush, although Rove was Deputy Chief of Staff, but both men held about the same standing with the president. Emanuel was also a senior adviser to Bill Clinton.

unreliable (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341053)

We have the cameras where I live, they don't work reliably. I have seen them go off for no reason and when someone made a perfectly legal right on red. I have a friend who lives next to one, he says they constantly go off when they should not. I for one will no longer make a right on red in intersections where they are located.

Re:unreliable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341211)

So you welcome your new traffic camera overlords then?

Re:unreliable (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341543)

You should use the past tense there.

Standard operating procedure (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341059)

It's news that it's being done on a relatively small scale, but many large industry groups use similar astroturfing tactics. As soon as androids (the robots, not the phones) become cheap you'll see them pile out of buses to stage protests too.

Don't speed. (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341075)

Problem solved. And if you think the speed limits are too slow, then petition to have them raised rather than weaken the enforcement.

Of course one needs to make sure the camera owners are not cheating, like they were in D.C. (the yellow light was shortened in order to boost profits). I'm not sure how cheating happens with speed cameras but I'm sure there's a way. Perhaps the same way that New Mexican officer claimed I was doing 91 when I was only doing 79.

Re:Don't speed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341161)

So you mean like in Chicago where the yellow lights are about 50% shorter compared to the suburbs? http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-03-22/classified/ct-met-yellow-light-20100322_1_red-light-cameras-yellow-lights-three-and-six-seconds

Re:Don't speed. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341171)

I like how you propose "don't speed" as a solution, while simultaneously saying you got a speeding ticket you didn't deserve.

So apparently "don't speed" isn't actually a valid defense.

Re:Don't speed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341271)

Here in Arizona we have some school zones that are in effect 24/7. (most are reasonable however) Unless you read the text under the sign you will not know you are speeding.

15 MPH at 3 AM on a Saturday night. Yeah right!

Re:Don't speed. (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341339)

My point was that I don't oppose the use of cameras, because the cameras are not the problem. It's the police officers that are the problem. I would trust the cold logic of a camera (either you are speeding or not) then a lying human being.

Re:Don't speed. (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341559)

Now who programs the cameras?

Fuck off. (-1, Flamebait)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341435)

I have better advice. Fuck off. You and all the other assholes who love living in a police state. Kill yourself. I'm serious.

Re:Don't speed. (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341455)

You create perpetual work zones and artificially reduce the speed to 50mph and send out 200,000 tickets.

I swear, if I ever see a fricking worker sitting on his ass I am going to cuss him the !@#$% out.

Cash grab?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341087)

"Just about everybody sees it as a cash grab by the city."

Seriously? WTF?
If you don't want to pay the fines - don't break the speed limit / run the red light.
If - for some reason - you feel that you should have a constitutional right to go faster than the current speed limit / ignore signals there for the safety of you and those around you, lobby to raise the speed limit etc and have an open debate with the road safety argument and the balanced needs of everyone in the state.

Re:Cash grab?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341249)

Nobody says that traffic laws are unconstitutional. The problem we are raising is the fact that cities are investing so much time and energy in what is a relatively minor to non-existent public safety issue all the while crime rates are going up and many crimes remaining unsolved.

When a city chooses to prioritize revenue generation over prioritizing real crime fighting, that is a cash grab and the point stands valid.

Re:Cash grab?!? (1)

x1r8a3k (1170111) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341341)

It's not that I feel there should be no speed limits/road anarchy, etc. I just think there should be a human there to be able to judge extenuating circumstances.

Re:Cash grab?!? (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341483)

When the police department can sit a cop cruiser out in the middle of a 300 acre farm to nail people on a stop sign that shouldn't even exist where it is.

And then turn around and not respond to 9-1-1 calls.

Please tell me why the !@#$ I should want to pay taxes for a police department?

They tried this here (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341095)

For years Albuquerque had red light/speeding cameras at a lot of intersections. The public got tired of it, and the city council voted to drop the contract. After a long legal fight, the cameras finally got taken down.

Think that's the end of it? Hah.

See, because Redflex is a private citizen (thanks citizens united!), and not a governmental institution, the company couldn't file criminal cases against alleged speeders/red light runners, so any of the charges they brought forward were always civil cases. This also means that you don't have to go to court to fight the charges, pay any settlements, or essentially give a damn because no police officers saw the crime take place.

Why does this make a difference? Because Redflex was guaranteed something like 40% of the ticket price per incident. Which they're obviously not going to get. So what did they do? They sued the city for $4.5 million.

Re:They tried this here (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341323)

So how did the lawsuit turn out? I'd like to think Redflex was laughed out of court ...

Speed/Red Light Cameras (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341107)

I find it interesting that the State of Arizona tore out its speed cameras as they actually were costing more money than they were generating in revenue and traffic collisions actually went up. Don't you believe that Traffic Safety Coalition as it stinks to high heaven of lobby group. Even some municipalities removed the cameras as they served no purpose whatsoever. The statistics are that 2/3s of all tickets issued by these systems have to be thrown out for one reason or another.

Re:Speed/Red Light Cameras (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341145)

Speed limits are generally a bad idea. They could be useful for some situations, such as a blind rise or reducing-radius corner, but in most situations they just don't improve safety. If they were used judiciously then people would take them seriously too.

Re:Speed/Red Light Cameras (1)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341479)

I would agree with you if people drove sanely, but they don't drive as fast as is safe, they drive as fast as they think that they can get away with. They're not interested in the weather conditions or the quality of the road or whether there's anybody around them, they're just interested in getting to wherever they have to go as fast is possible.

Re:Speed/Red Light Cameras (1)

swb (14022) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341219)

Arizona is also one of those states where even the liberals have little tolerance for Big Brother. IIRC, the AZ cameras were getting shot up. Regularly.

Re:Speed/Red Light Cameras (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341495)

I'm not sure where you heard that. I live in Tempe, and there were a handful of incidents that I recall, and that's about it. There was one incident where some guy pulled up next to a Redflex mobile van and shot the guy inside (killing him); that was pretty big news. And I recall one or two cases of people vandalizing the cameras (not necessarily with guns), but that's quite different from "getting shot up... regularly".

Re:Speed/Red Light Cameras (1)

x1r8a3k (1170111) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341517)

That happens everywhere. Burning and cutting the pole are the most common, but my favorite is this one http://thenewspaper.com/rlc/pix/czattack.jpg [thenewspaper.com]

If I won the lottery... (4, Interesting)

swb (14022) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341169)

One of the things I would do is hire a statistician/economist to study speed/traffic enforcement and find out if law enforcement is even remotely performing enforcement relative to areas of high accidents. If its totally unrelated statistically, I'd hire a lobbyist (or maybe even a politician!) to publicly shame them for wasting money and just harassing people and possibly push for a law that would require the police to enforce traffic safety where there were actual problems with traffic safety. Maybe even make "speed traps" not in a state reported risk zone flat out illegal.

My guess is that 90% of police traffic/speed enforcement has literally nothing to do with traffic safety but instead is focused on where people are speeding (underutilized highways, in good condition, etc) and how easy it is to catch them (good hiding places, good weather, etc).

I've never heard of a police department doing an analysis on accidents, traffic volume, pedestrian volume and then choosing to focus enforcement efforts on areas where people actually have a lot of accidents related to traffic infractions.

I'm told by someone in law enforcement that in at least one upscale suburban community their speed enforcement on local streets has literally nothing to do with traffic safety -- they pick spots where people naturally speed by small margins (eg, 35 in a 30 zone) due to hills or lack of intersections for the express purpose of pulling them over, checking identification, and trying to get "easy" arrests for other offenses unrelated to traffic safety. Basically one step above a police state checkpoint.

Re:If I won the lottery... (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341475)

My guess is that 90% of police traffic/speed enforcement has literally nothing to do with traffic safety

90% of all law enforcement has nothing to do with safety.

Re:If I won the lottery... (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341527)

Absolutely correct; pulling people over for speeding and other minor offenses is frequently how police pick up people who are wanted for outstanding warrants.

ho8o (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341177)

fo[8 election, I

How to disable these cameras for cheap (5, Interesting)

Mars Saxman (1745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341233)

A friend of mine discovered that it is trivially easy to blind one of these cameras.

From his local grocery store, he bought an empty sprayer bottle and some white glue (like Elmer's); this cost like three bucks. He mixed up a 1:1 solution of glue and water, then screwed his sprayer bottle's nozzle to the "stream" mode.

My friend started carrying one of those reusable grocery bags to the store. He'd just leave the sprayer bottle in it. Every time he went to the store, he'd walk up behind the red-light camera, stand just underneath it but still outside its field of vision, and then spray glue all over the lens.

Note that the red light camera systems usually have two cameras: one is a video camera, mounted higher up, which does detection; the lower camera is a high-res still camera, designed to capture the image of the license plate. You don't need to bother with the video camera; just blind the still camera. The system will still keep running, but the photos will be all blurred out and unusable.

My friend said that he'd walk by the camera two or three times a week, and the lens was usually cleaned off by the time he came back. That means that the red-light camera company was sending someone out to clean it, over and over, every week, costing the company lots of money.

My friend told me that someone once approached him in the grocery store and asked what he had been doing; they'd seen him spraying the camera and were curious what he was up to. When he explained how easy it was to disable a red-light camera, the person was delighted and decided to go start doing it herself, too.

Re:How to disable these cameras for cheap (1, Insightful)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341351)

Or you could just not run red lights, then you wouldn't have to bother with the petty vandalism and you'd be two fewer illegal things.

Re:How to disable these cameras for cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341369)

I can imagine the outcome be rather nasty if they ever catch him.

Re:How to disable these cameras for cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341393)

Easier trick to defeat them: obey traffic laws.

Re:How to disable these cameras for cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341397)

Until your friend spends 15-20 years in jail for tampering with a "safety device" or some sort of other crime against the public.

Re:How to disable these cameras for cheap (2, Insightful)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341405)

So what you're saying is that your friend is a vandal -- and too stupid to avoid admitting it to any random person who asks in a store much less avoid getting caught to begin with?

I'm not a big fan of red light cameras for a number of reasons, but damaging other peoples' property is not the right answer.

Re:How to disable these cameras for cheap (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341505)

If the camera is owned (or funded) by the EU or US member state, then you are wasting taxpayer dollars.

Re:How to disable these cameras for cheap (2)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341509)

Why does he feel he has the right to vandalize stuff and disobey the laws? What gives him the right to be a straight-up arsehole? Is he mentally so dysfunctional that obeying something as simple as red-light-laws is completely impossible for him?

Re:How to disable these cameras for cheap (1)

Mass Overkiller (1999306) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341585)

Why didn't your friend just say "Some idiot keeps disabling the camera and I'm here to clean it with this spray"?

Just got nailed by one of these... (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341295)

In Maryland, for doing 68mph on the interstate. Supposedly it's a construction zone, and while they are doing work on the bridge it's mostly underneath. In fact I can't recall ever seeing a worker on the interstate itself.

Mind you, this "work zone" camera has been in operation since June 2010. Not sure why ANY construction zone should exist that long.

At $40 a ticket, and 200,000+ tickets it has generated over $8 million for the state of Maryland.

Re:Just got nailed by one of these... (1)

CyberSnyder (8122) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341565)

Was this a 50 MPH speed limit or a 65MPH speed limit area? If you were doing 18MPH over, you probably deserve it. 3MPH over, I'll side with you.

Re:Just got nailed by one of these... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341775)

It's an interstate. I'm willing to bet that, with exception to the bogus work zone the OP mentioned, it was 70+.
I'm usually going 80 on those too (and I still get passed frequently), guess I should be careful if I ever travel to Maryland.

Re:Just got nailed by one of these... (1)

Mass Overkiller (1999306) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341595)

In NH speeding in a work zone is a DOUBLE FINE. Good money for the state...

Re:Just got nailed by one of these... (1)

Megatog615 (1019306) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341693)

If you're talking about the one on 70, I completely agree with you that it's bullshit to have it there. I pass by it a few times a week, and once when I was the only one for a few thousand feet passing by it, I tested how accurate their speedometer was, and it turns out it was about 5 mph higher than my own speedometer.

Re:Just got nailed by one of these... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341773)

In Maryland, for doing 68mph on the interstate. Supposedly it's a construction zone, and while they are doing work on the bridge it's mostly underneath. In fact I can't recall ever seeing a worker on the interstate itself.

Mind you, this "work zone" camera has been in operation since June 2010. Not sure why ANY construction zone should exist that long.

At $40 a ticket, and 200,000+ tickets it has generated over $8 million for the state of Maryland.

And there is the problem. If the $8 million is split 70/30 (contractor/state), it's a win-win for each. There are no points assessed to your license, so no insurance hike for the driver. They were speeding, yes. So to avoid the points on the license folks pay the fine and move on. Consider it a form of taxation. And from what I understand on some of the contacts for these cameras, is that should everyone start to 'obey' the thresholds, that the state still has to pay the contractor for their use. So then you pay your 'fine' via taxes. It's just a different way to get your hard earned cash.

Cities need to cut out the middleman. (0)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341415)

Traffic cameras save lives. They're excellent. My gripe is against the companies that soak citizens for every ticket.

Municipalities need to cut out the middleman and employ their own camera systems.

There is a great open source opportunity here.

Re:Cities need to cut out the middleman. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341829)

How do they do that? Are they CPR trained? Is this the same logic as "harsher sentences reduce crime"?

If these things "work" why do they catch so many people year over year? I would seem they (like most law enforcement) is a reactive punishment for being a bad boy/girl (and hey the millions in revenue for a company and the state ain't bad either).

You would think people who are smart enough to turn on a computer and read a bit would realize our system of "punishing for profit" is a complete and utter failure on every single front. Requiring everyone to rid tricycles "save lives" too, let's just hope Radio Flyer doesn't hire some hard hitting lobbyists and "play golf" with a few governors.

Easy way to foil the 'money grab' ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341417)

Don't break the speed limit.

Raise the limit. (1)

nbritton (823086) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341421)

Since nearly everyone speeds, how come we don't just raise limit? I'm assuming traffic legislator is introduced and voted for by state congressional representatives? Is their so much money involved in this racket that representatives simply look the other way? I seem to recall that one state doesn't have speeding tickets, instead they write citations for excessive fuel consumption, presumably as a way to de-crimalize speeding. When more people then not have convictions for speeding, I think the laws need to be change.

The other uses of these cameras (1)

Rastl (955935) | more than 2 years ago | (#39341673)

IIRC the bulk of the tickets in my area were for people stopping beyond the posted line in an intersection, not for running a red light. No safety issue at all like they say the cameras are supposed to promote. Simply having wheels on the white line. Yeah, that's going to increase safety.

The other issue was making the yellow light time shorter so that there was an increase in red light violations. Not tipping the odds or anything there.

Making this a business makes it not just prone to abuse but guarantees abuse. It's all about the profit.

One last thought. The flash from these cameras is actually a safety issue at night. All of a sudden you're seeing this insanely bright light and your night vision is shot. So they're creating an entirely different safety problem using the equipment that's promoted as increasing safety.

Why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341771)

Why would they put Astroturf on them? Like thats going to hide it. pfft.

What happened to consent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341791)

What I don't understand is how these tickets are even legal? You have to consent to any kind of traffic violation that a POLICE OFFICER would write you up for. They get your consent by getting you to sign for the ticket. When you get a letter in the mail saying you have a fine for speeding by getting caught on camera, when did you give your consent for the ticket? My suggestion, fight the ticket... Don't enter a guilty or not-guilty plea, just say "I don't consent". Don't answer if you knew or not if you were speeding. I'd just say I don't know, I wasn't looking at the speedo at that point in time, so you can't say for sure or not if you were or weren't speeding.

IANAL, but seriously stop just accepting tickets you didn't consent to...

Motorcycles and Rear End Collisions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39341861)

I ride a motorcycle as my primary transportation. I'm very much against running red lights. I'm also very much against being rear-ended. It's fairly common for me to come up on a yellow light where the timing is questionable and I have some moron riding my butt. The choice here is to stop short and be rear ended, continue normally and run a red light, or give it some throttle and get away from the problem entirely. Guess which choice I make?
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