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My Recent Comments
I am constantly amazed at people who naively think that "if you don't break the law, you have nothing to fear" with automated traffic enforcement. Please review my favorite story of how automated traffic enforcement really works:
Want more? How about the California sheriff that was in charge of photo enforcement in his city and received multiple tickets for a driver that wasn't him, even though his name was digitally signed as legally verifying the information. HA! There are scores of such stories verified by the press online. Want even more?
In 2001, the red-light vendor that Mesa contracted with at the time was loosing money from 5 of the city's 17 cameras. It turned out that at the yellow light timing at these intersections had been increased from approximately 3 to 4 seconds (basically what the vetoed bill would have accomplished) by a City worker. Suddenly, violations dropped 73% and an estimated $300,000 a month was being lost according to news reports. The Police Department loved this, but Lockheed Martin (who were later sold to ACS and then Xerox) took legal action against the city for breech of contract. Their contract stated that once the cameras were installed, that yellow light timing was not to be changed. Subsequently, cameras at those 5 intersections were removed and Mesa eliminated the 0.3 seconds of red light "grace" time at the remaining camera sites in the bargaining.
Yup, it is al about the money and conning taxpayers to believe it is for their own safety. Until voters get a chance to give their say (another bill that was defeated this session), honest Arizonians will be extorted...May 10, 2012
Governor Brewer's veto of this very simple and common sense bill shows how much she either failed to research the matter or how much influence that RedFlex Traffic Systems, Inc. and American Traffic Solutions, Inc. (both with world corporate offices here) have a handle on her. While she states that she will side with law enforcement on the matter, she really means one of the few biased police officers that could be found to testify. ALL the officers that I work with easy see this issue for the greedy money issue that it is and feel that this bill would have had NO impact on traffic safety. Even the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) strongly recommends in their Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices that traffic intersections be defined via the crosswalk!
So, here is what the failure of this bill really means. Any driver who recently moved there or is visiting from any other state (besides Alaska) will pass through traffic intersections with the definition that the crosswalk is their boundary line. When they are confronted with the light changing as they approach the intersection, they will make their split-second judgements on whether to proceed safely or apply the brakes based upon this knowledge. This is called the "dilemma zone", where speed limit, yellow light timing, and the reaction time of the average motorist should help avoid both abrupt stops and forceful acceleration. So, an otherwise safe driver can and often does receive a traffic ticket that they wouldn't get the majority of the USA. A human police officer would not have detected anything unsafe. Yup, welcome to Arizona!
You want safer intersections? Start first by applying the standardization guidelines urged by the (FHWA) in engineering, yellow light timing, and more...
May 10, 2012
This bill is only a bandaid to a bigger problem, which are the cameras themselves. However, it will help level the playing field between honest drivers and cash-hungry municipalities. According to separate reports done by the states of California, Texas, and Virginia, nearly 80 percent of those state's red light camera tickets were issued for violations that took place less than half a second into the red. These violations went to average drivers and not the "deadly red light runners" that we are threatened with whenever the issue comes up.
Take Mesa for example. In 2001 the city claimed a 22% drop in red light camera violations after installing ticket cameras. The intersections contained very inadequate 3 second (federal minimum) yellow lights. Yellow light timing was accidentally increased by a worker using proper calculations to 4 seconds and overnight, violations dropped 73% (Arizona Republic, February 6, 2001). The camera vendor lost about $300,000 that month and forced a renegotiation with Mesa to recover their financial loss. The ticket camera program was suspended over money squabbles or lack thereof in the meantime. Hey, isn't it all about safety? Similar incidents have replayed themselves again and again across the USA.
The multi-million dollar photo traffic camera industry is extremely good at the spin they propel themselves with. They are also shameless in how they have deceived us with a sense of false safety. The cities of Los Angeles, Houston, and more have found out the hard way and it has cost taxpayers to chase the cameras away. Until Arizona citizens get a chance to vote on the issue (a recently failed bill by one single vote), HB 2557 is sorely needed in the debate about red light camera safety vs. money. Please contact your politicians and urge them to vote for this bill!Mar 28, 2012
Amendment to previous post (typographical error):
Automated traffic enforcement has been voted out in 22 out of 23 elections across the USA. There are currently 10 communities and/or states that plan to outright ban or vote to ban automated traffic enforcement in 2012. This is where YOU can make a positive difference on your life by casting a vote.Feb 14, 2012
Regardless of where you are on the issue of automated traffic enforcement, how can anyone be against allowing the citizens the chance to decide how they wish to be governed on any issue? That is what Democracy is all about; not politicians forcing upon us being policed by a corporation that makes it's money with as many tickets as they can.
If this bill does pass and the vote will be put to the voters, plan for the Photo Traffic Enforcement Industry to pull out all the stops in their shameless propaganda. They are very creative at what they do. Other communities have had a cavalcade of polls and statistics justifying the cameras just prior to a vote, when in fact all of that information was humorously discovered to be strategically biased in the end. In only one election across the USA, the cameras have never survived a vote. Let's hope Arizonians are smart enough to see though the "it's all about safety spin" on this issue as well.Feb 14, 2012