Traffic Cameras are Dangerous
Traffic cameras are those neat little gadgets that a lot of cities, towns, counties, and states (not to mention other nations, except Italy, which took all theirs down) use to "enforce" traffic laws. They take a picture of the driver, and they take a picture of the license plate. At night, they use a strobe to illuminate the face of the driver.
I learned that in Arizona, they were photographing everyone. This made Governor Jan Brewer unhappy, so she ordered all traffic cameras on state roads to be removed. Her predecessor, the infamous Janet Napolitano, now of Obama "fame", was gung-ho about them.
If they tell you that traffic cameras prevent accidents and save lives, don't believe them. Their purpose is to make money.
The picture is a backside of an older camera. The newer ones are smaller, but obviously still conspicuous.
You know, if traffic cameras did what they were supposed to do, I could see the rationale. But they don't. I am going to tell you why.
Photo is a crop of an image by Derek Jensen. No copyright. From Wikimedia.
My First Experience with a Traffic Camera
I was driving the freeway. Speed limit is 65. There is bumper-to-bumper traffic, and everyone's going 67. Enforcement gives 5 mph leeway, so the cameras should have been quiet. They weren't. It was after dark, and they were flashing people with that horrible strobe.
At the time, all I could think of was that if that strobe flashed in the face of someone and caused a medical episode (epileptic seizure, for example), it could cause a pileup, a real mess, and might kill a bunch of people.
I got flashed. I never heard anything from them at all. If I had, they would have rued the day. These gadgets are unconstitutional. You're supposed to be able to examine the witnesses against you. How do you ask questions of a gadget miles away from the courtroom?
Traffic Cameras Grow Like Weeds
Nowadays, they no longer have any traffic cameras on the freeways. But lots of intersections have them, and there are some in between traffic lights as well.
I won't go anywhere that there is a camera. Sometimes I have to take a circuitous route, but I don't care. I'd rather be safe than sorry. They never asked me if I wanted the extra risk when I am driving. I'm not talking about the risk of a ticket. I'm talking about the risk of an accident!
I belong to the National Motorists Association. Awhile back, they asked us to do some study for them. We were to take a stopwatch to intersections and see how long the amber light is. Their theory is that when the government puts up a traffic camera, they shorten the amber so they can collect more money. Shortening the amber also causes more accidents, in particular rear-end accidents. You know, the one kind of accident over which YOU have no control, no matter how defensively you drive.
So I took the stopwatch and went to a number of different intersections. The intersections I chose all have 45 mph speed limits. They're supposed to have a 5 second amber. I don't think a single one of them had an amber that long. Interestingly, most of them were around 3 1/2 seconds. I found two with 4 1/2 seconds. One of them had a traffic camera, and the other one didn't. My theory was that when they installed the traffic camera, they lengthened the amber to "show" that traffic cameras prevent accidents. No, dummy! The longer amber prevents accidents.
One day, my husband was driving through the intersection that had a traffic camera, and he saw a NASTY rear end collision. And the direction they had been traveling wasn't the direction the traffic camera was looking. But the amber in that direction is a second shorter than the amber where the camera is. Wanna place bets on what happened?
We aren't defenseless.
Call or email the businesses in the area. Tell them that you aren't going to be coming to their store because there is a traffic camera in the way. Tell them they will lose your business. (I talked to one business owner who told me he liked the cameras. Well, I told him I won't be going back there at all. And that was at the very intersection where my husband saw the nasty rear end accident.)
Tell your legislators to mandate that the revenue from the cameras go to the schools. I'm no friend of the schools (another whole story), but if you take the profit incentive out of it, the cameras go away quickly. This is what experience tells us.
One company makes a spray that prevents a camera from being able to photograph the license plate. I will put some on mine.
You can also conceal your face. Here are several tips.
Put your visor down and sit tall. If you are tall enough, the camera will not be able to photograph your eyes.
Wear a bandana or a dust mask. Or put your fist over your face when you approach a camera.
Take another route. Don't go where the cameras are. Let the congestion on the other roads pile up. I discovered I'm not the only one in my family who avoids driving where there are cameras. Some of my kids won't, either.
Scream at your local officials.
If you get a ticket, go to NMA and get a local lawyer and fight it. Maybe it won't be cheap, but doggone it, the status quo sure isn't cheap, either!
And while you are at it, join the National Motorists Association. They could use the support. They're the ones that brought an end to the ridiculous 55mph national speed limit. We need them once more!
The government has done a lot to make really good roads for us. It's disgusting that they're putting these cameras on them so we can't even use these roads safely.
Talking to the Police
There is usually a police officer at the local Fry's grocery store, so I have taken to stopping to talk to them about traffic cameras. The first time I did it, I told the officer to tell his boss I don't like traffic cameras. There was another man standing there, and he said he didn't like them, either. I told them both that they could cause a nasty accident if they flashed someone who then had a medical episode (such as a seizure). The man agreed with me. The officer told me I should write a letter to the editor. I said I had, but I doubted if they had published it.
The next time I talked to a different officer, and I said, "I still don't like traffic cameras." He said, "I don't, either." He had an interesting reason. He said that they take pictures inside cars, and that police aren't supposed to look at the inside of cars or photograph them, without probable cause or a search warrant.
The third time I talked to an officer, she said she didn't like them herself because they make it harder for her to get from one place to another. She apparently feels she has to observe the speed limit! I told her about the accident that my husband had seen, where one car had run into the back of another, and both cars were demolished. I told her one of the cars had been a vintage vehicle. I said I was outraged at that, and she agreed with me.
I make it a point to talk to the police officer at Fry's whenever I go there. I think I have had three more conversations since the last update.
The first was when I asked one officer if I had told him I don't like the traffic cameras. He said I had, so I smiled and walked on by. Doesn't hurt to remind them.
The next fellow said he liked the traffic cameras because they had prevented accidents at a certain intersection. His reasoning was that accidents have decreased. I told him that they increase accidents overall, and he interpreted that to mean I meant at that intersection. I told him, no. I said the reason accidents had been reduced was because the amber light had been lengthened. I said the longer amber light made traffic cameras look good, and that was the purpose, but that it was the amber light that reduced accidents, not the traffic camera. He didn't agree with me at all, but that was the end of the conversation.
The next time I talked to an officer, he listened very patiently, and there was a security guard standing next to him, and he listened, too. When I said the amber light was why the accident rate had been reduced, the security guard agreed with me.
Later that same evening, I ran into the security guard again, and we had another conversation. This time, he said he had to drive past a traffic camera to go home from work. Turns out, that was probably correct, unless he went way out of his way (several miles). He didn't know there was a traffic camera on River Road, and that pretty well prevented any chance he had of avoiding them. He also said that when police stop someone for a routine traffic stop, they will ask the person to get out of the car (I never had that happen to me, but I've only been stopped once in recent years), and then they will look for a gun. You're not "supposed" to have a gun around the driver's seat; it's supposed to be in the glove compartment. I told him all those laws are unconstitutional, and some people have a concealed carry license anyway, so the mere presence of a gun next to the seat doesn't mean anything. He agreed the laws were all unconstitutional. I quoted the Second Amendment where it says the right "shall not be infringed." I said, that means there are no constitutional laws with respect to guns. Finally, I asked him if he knew that Obama might not be president. He didn't know that. I told him that Obama might not be born in the US and if he wasn't, he's not president. People have been demanding he show his birth certificate, but he has been refusing, and has spent over a million dollars to avoid doing it. The Constitution makes the requirement that the president must be a natural born citizen quite plain. He was intensely interested in that, and said he needed to keep up with that, so I told him where on the internet he could get up to date information.
Current methods of enforcement are wrong-headed
Beat the System
How to Beat a Speeding Ticket Book -Fight that Ticket and Win: The Complete Guide to Beating the system Tips on Getting Speeding Tickets, Traffic Tickets and red light camera tickets Dismissed
In my opinion, tickets should only be given to people who cause actual damage to themselves, others, or property. If the insurance companies were free to refuse to pay his own claims when the driver was at fault, people would be a lot more careful. Speeding is NOT by itself a major cause of accidents. Carelessness is. In the spirit of my opinion, here is a book you may find helpful. Unfortunately, it's only available for Kindle.
I gotta tell you a story. Years ago, one of our kids got a traffic ticket. He filed paperwork with the court, making a motion to be granted discovery. They lost his paperwork, and that was the end of it.
Well, I continue to tell police officers at the grocery store that I hate the traffic cameras. Most of them support me. The most recent conversation I had was with an officer whom I think told me before he supports them. When I said that traffic cameras are not safe because they cause erratic behavior in drivers, he agreed with me!
I guess he has learned something.
But I do have some good news. The state's contract with the company that supplies the traffic cameras for state roads has expired, and the cameras will soon be removed. There are plenty in the cities and counties, but this is a good start. There may be an item on the ballot to ban them altogether. I hope so. I don't know if this made the ballot or not. If it is on the ballot, I will vote for it.
Traffic Cameras in England
I just saw a very interesting item in the Telegraph. One town voted to turn off all its traffic cameras. The result was fewer accidents. The number of fatal accidents dropped from 4 to 2. A number of communities are turning off all or some of their cameras.
The most interesting comment was the one that said that people who approach cameras drive erratically, braking before the camera, and speeding up rapidly once they're past it. Obviously, not only does this cause accidents, but it shows they have absolutely no effect on people's behavior in general.
You can read the rest of the article here:
My editorial comment: many of us remember the mandatory 55mph speed limit imposed by the federal government. In my opinion, this big brother law actually eroded respect for the law. That's when people started to ignore speed limits in a big way. We have never restored the former respect that traffic laws once had. Traffic cameras will backfire in exactly the same way. Mark my words.
In my opinion, people should only receive tickets when they actually cause an accident because they disobeyed the law. Then the book should be thrown at them, and insurance companies should refuse to pay for their damages. That would work far, far better.
Even if there wasn't extra risk from the cameras (which there definitely is), I would prefer being slightly less safe to having big brother watching me constantly.
Traffic Cameras Increase Accidents
The National Motorists Association has collected a number of reports showing that traffic cameras actually increase accidents. In one report I read, the accident rate at a red light camera doubled, and so did the death rate. In another report, rear end accidents increased 800%. Clearly, these cameras are NOT THERE to increase safety. They're there to collect money from the sheeple.
Here is a list of articles they have kept on this topic:
I continue to follow alternate routes so I do not drive past them. In most cases, I know exactly where they are, and I know the alternate routes. If I am in a new area, I have ways to make sure I don't get harassed. Since they are unconstitutional, I would rather not have to deal with them by going to court.
Oh, and by the way. It has been stated that unless you are served personally, you don't owe them anything anyway. When they mail you a citation, you can freely ignore it. I haven't tested this, but I think a lot of people are doing just that. They don't put points on your license in this state, for getting a traffic camera citation.
Officials Are Starting to See the Light
Sorry, pun intended. ;)
As I mentioned, several years ago, Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona learned that traffic cameras were photographing everybody. That made her angry, so she banned them on the freeways. Chances are, if the legislature passes a law, she'll sign it within the hour. I understand Scottsdale no longer has them, but I haven't verified this.
Now there are moves in several states to ban them outright. And several major cities already have. There was a very interesting item on Fox News today:
Yippee! May their tribe increase! It will be awfully nice to be able to use some of the streets again without being threatened by Big Brother.
Yippee! Hip, hip, hooray!
They turned off the speed cameras in the county where I live. I personally went out and checked, and the warning signs are covered in four out of the five locations where they have cameras, that I was avoiding by driving another route. (You see, I never agreed to the extra hazard they cause). The company that installed the cameras now much remove them. They're already turned off.
I understand they're gathering signatures to put the question of traffic cameras in the CITY on the ballot. I hope they make it. A couple of years ago, a statewide attempt failed to get enough signatures.
I think traffic cameras are going out of style. They simply don't produce results, or even all that much revenue, for that matter. In our county, they only produced a half million income in a budget of 1.5 billion, and the number of accidents declined MORE on streets that didn't have them, than on streets that did. The vote to discontinue the program was unanimous (one supervisor was not present). I thanked them by email.
Links about Traffic Cameras
- Motionless Driver Gets Ticketed for Speeding
The beginning of the end of traffic cameras? We can hope!
Has maps where all known traffic cameras in the United States are located. But it was last updated about a year ago, so don't rely on it TOO much.
- Pima County Ends Speed Camera Program
Gives details behind the decision to turn off the speed cameras in one county in Arizona. Cameras have already been turned off in Scottsdale and on the freeways.
How do YOU fight traffic cameras?