Missouri Attorney General Doesn't Think Traffic Cameras are Legal


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Jeff White
August 9, 2005, 02:35 PM
Well there may be some hope. It looks like there is some common sense out there.
http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/stlouiscitycounty/story/0DD77EA1C0DC4FDF8625705800511AEE?OpenDocument
Nixon questions use of traffic photographs
By Shane Graber
Of the Post-Dispatch
08/09/2005

Some Missouri cities soon might use traffic cameras to ticket unlawful drivers. But the state attorney general doesn't think the photographs will hold up in court.

The city of Arnold recently decided to install traffic cameras that will photograph license plates of vehicles running red lights. Creve Coeur is considering a similar program.

But Attorney General Jay Nixon says the photographs won't provide enough proof to ticket motorists.

"I think it's pretty clear these pictures can't be the sole or only evidence to cite drivers for violating state traffic laws," Nixon said in a telephone interview. "I have deep concern whether taking someone's picture rolling through a stop light is adequate evidence in and of itself to uphold a state traffic law."

Red-light cameras are set up at the corners of an intersection on poles. The cameras point toward the intersection. If a car enters the intersection against a red light, it sets off a trigger, which then tells a computer to snap two pictures. The first one shows the car entering the intersection. The next one shows the car in the middle of it.

American Traffic Solutions will provide Arnold with the service. Jane Dueker, a lawyer who represents the company, said local police would have the authority to use the cameras because they would be enforcing local ordinances, not state laws. Pictures are used as evidence in courts all the time, she said.

Arnold Police Chief Robert Shocke said the violation won't go on the person's driving record.

Several cities, including New York, Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles, already use red-light cameras. Some studies, though, show that legal or not, the cameras don't make intersections safer.

In a study by North Carolina A&T State University in 2004, funded by the Urban Transit Institute, research showed that while accidents at intersections decreased over a five year period, intersections where red-light cameras were installed did not experience the same decrease.

Dr. Mark Burkey, co-author of the study, said he had found no benefits to the cameras.

State Rep. Connie L. Johnson, D-St. Louis, tried to pass a bill last session that would have made the cameras legal statewide, but it died in committee "because all the controversy of Big Brother," she said.

"But nobody has a right to privacy on a public street," she said. "It's as simple as that."

The Big Brother concern is a common one, said Tom Miller, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Transportation. His department has traffic cameras at about 100 of its 1,000 intersections in the area.

Although they're used for traffic flow and not enforcement, he gets calls all the time from motorists who think they're being watched.

Gateway Guide, a joint venture between the Missouri and Illinois transportation departments, also uses dozens of cameras throughout the region. These, too, are unable to be used by law enforcement, Miller said.

Nixon said the state, city, or anyone else can snap as many photos as they want of people on the road. But those photos alone won't prove a legal case.

"A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a picture in and of itself is not a conviction," he said.

Reporter Shane Graber
E-mail: sgraber@post-dispatch.com
Phone: 314-340-8207

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Flyboy
August 9, 2005, 02:57 PM
In a study by North Carolina A&T State University in 2004, funded by the Urban Transit Institute, research showed that while accidents at intersections decreased over a five year period, intersections where red-light cameras were installed did not experience the same decrease.
Hrm...if intersections are otherwise getting safer, but the camera-monitored intersections aren't, wouldn't that mean that such intersections are getting more dangerous?

Proportionally, it's clear that they are. However, a persuasive argument could be made that, in other factors are controlled, the presence of the cameras inhibited what should have been a decline; the camera, thus, is an endangering factor, and it is merely mitigated by the general decline in accidents.

An alternative explanation, of course, is that the monitored intersections were less dangerous than the average intersection even before the introduction of the cameras; in that case, you have strong evidence that the cameras are sited to maximize revenue, not safety.

In any case, they are certainly not a benefit to the citizens.

WT
August 9, 2005, 03:09 PM
No witnesses, a little photo shopping, and every car in the country can be photographed running a red light.

Marshall
August 9, 2005, 03:37 PM
Im not in on the whole "camera" thing anyway. Doesn't feel right.

artherd
August 9, 2005, 04:08 PM
Hrm...if intersections are otherwise getting safer, but the camera-monitored intersections aren't, wouldn't that mean that such intersections are getting more dangerous?

Lawsuit! Lawsuit! Lawsuit! ;)

musher
August 9, 2005, 04:12 PM
Anchorage tried it in the late nineties and got it tossed out on it's ear.

from the Alaska Appeals court decision...

In stationary and moving radar trials in the State of Alaska, this court has required testimony by a trained police officer who is certified to operate the equipment. That officer has to first observe a speeding vehicle and formulate an opinion as to the speed of the vehicle before activating the radar. If the officer receives a reading consistent with his or her observations the officer will then pursue the vehicle and issue a citation. Radar is used as a corroborative device.

The magistrates found that the municipality's assertion that the photo-radar device accurately recorded the speeds of the defendant motorists rested on the testimony of Clint Davis and Robert Davies, witnesses the magistrates described as individuals who have a great deal at stake financially and who will testify to whatever it takes to convince' the court in a given case. Obviously a favorable decision by this court could be cited elsewhere and would be of great value to American Traffic Systems in fostering the growth of a market for its product. Thus, the pecuniary interest of Mr. Davis and Mr. Davies goes far beyond the Anchorage program and would appear to be so great as to call into question their objectivity when discussing their product. This is not the sort of testimony that persuades this court to find the PR100 evidence of speeding admissible. Moreover, were we to find this evidence admissible, the questionable reliability of the testimony renders it insufficient to sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt in each of these cases. Accordingly, the court orders the cases against the above defendants dismissed.

carebear
August 9, 2005, 04:29 PM
That's true musher.

The other thing that struck me was the comment that the photo radar vans were parked prominently to "remind" drivers of speed zones and such. Everyone from the company and city swore up and down that "revenue enhancement" was not a driving factor.

However, the city currently had a multitude of much cheaper non-camera radar trailers that flash the speed to "remind" errant drivers without the threat of a gotcha.

Yet those somehow weren't enough, they kept mentioning "increasing citations" in the same breath they were denying the revenue issue.

The blatant BS helped kill the program as much as the "Big Brother" issue.

Brett Bellmore
August 9, 2005, 04:41 PM
Strictly speaking, a binary sensor like a electic eye, or maybe a coil under the roadbed, is a LOT more reliable than speed radar. I see no good reason for complaints on that score; They ARE accurate. Two problems:

1. Perverse incentives: I've heard rumors of the timing of lights being tweaked, to make sure more people can't stop in time to avoid going through the red, so as to increase revenues. A VERY dangerous way of boosting income of local government.

In fact, where a lot of people are running red lights in an intersection, this is normally supposed to be considered a sign that the yellow period ought to be increased, not pared back!

2. You're approaching a light, which turns yellow. Nobody is waiting to cross, you're being tailgated. The smart thing to do is scoot on through, even though you're technically violating the law. You probably won't get caught, and it's a lot safer, right? Now throw in the traffic camera; IT doesn't care that there's no opposing traffic, IT doesn't care that there's somebody right behind you. The ticket is certain, if you're in violation by even a fraction of a second.

So you slam on your brakes, and ge rear ended.

They want to spend money on fancy traffic lights, better they put in the ones that sense if there's anybody on the side road, and stays green on the main street until somebody NEEDS the light to cycle. Those are worth every cent, and don't make intersections more dangerous.

Bruce H
August 9, 2005, 04:46 PM
Somebody should drag the esteemed representative Connie L. Johnson out of her car for a little privacy violation. It is all about revenue.

Standing Wolf
August 9, 2005, 04:46 PM
Im not in on the whole "camera" thing anyway. Doesn't feel right.

The founding fathers felt the same way, which is why they specifically limited the powers of government, both federal and state.

ravinraven
August 9, 2005, 04:50 PM
...just line 'em up and fleece 'em.

I've heard that the increased accident rate at camera-red-lights happen when people panic stop on a yellow light and get clobbered from behind. I've also heard that shaving a couple seconds off the yellow light time, "enhances" revenue by several hundred percent. I'm too far out in the boonies to have such marvels installed around here so I have no data to go on. My brother did think the cameras at red lights were a wonderful idea in the city where he lives. Then he got clobbered in the tail twice at the same light when he stopped quick to avoid a ticket. I haven't dared ask him what he thinks now. He's way bigger than I am.

rr

TheOtherOne
August 9, 2005, 05:40 PM
Arnold Police Chief Robert Shocke said the violation won't go on the person's driving record.Really. Well, maybe they just want the increased revenue from tickets. Nah, that couldn't be the sole reason for doing this. :)

R.H. Lee
August 9, 2005, 06:03 PM
Running red lights is a serious offense that can easily result in death to innocent people. I'm all for security cameras to catch and prosecute offenders.

Flame away.

Waitone
August 9, 2005, 06:14 PM
Before Charlotte installed traffic light cameras the city had a major problem. At key intersections light running was approaching asinine levels during rush hours. Some interestions would have 8, 10, 12 cars run the yellow then red light. For the moment we'll ignore the cities responsibility for poor light timing. That said, the introduction of light cameras stopped light running stone cold. Trouble is the number of rearenders went up significantly. Another city in NC went so far as to put cameras on traffic lights AND reduced yellow light timing. In several cases the camera was place on low volume intersections at the bottom of a hill with a short yellow light. An enterprising lawyer got busy and blew a whistle on the whole scam. The city pulled the cameras after the the embarrassment got too bad.

Then Charlotte got greedy and installed speed cameras as a revenue source. Now there is absolutely no pretense. Speed cameras are to generate revenue, period.

Cameras can be whipped but it takes people yelling loud, long, and in three-part harmony.

Coronach
August 9, 2005, 06:40 PM
I'm opposed to any type of traffic enforcement that is not about safety. But as much as we scream the "it's all revenue generation" line, it is not always true. Heck, most cities of any size make only a small portion of their revenue on traffic fines. Red light and speed cameras will not change that terribly much.

Sidebar: You can and will, however, get revenue generation in small jurisdictions. I'm not slamming small-town cops or small-town government, but there are a few jurisdictions out there who make the rest look bad.

There are some intersections that could be seriously helped by the presence of red light cameras, in theory. I'm curious about the study that noted no decrease in accidents at those intersections, though. That is not necessarily indicative of a lack of effect (left on their own, they could have gotten worse...it depends on what other factors are impacting those specific intersections), but it certainly should be enough to make everyone want to find out why.

I am also concerned about the PC to ticket, based upon the snapshot of the rear of a car. Is it my car? OK. The tag tells you that. Am I driving? Maybe, maybe not. In order to issue a 'normal' traffic ticket a cop needs to observe a violation, stop the car, positively ascertain the identity of the driver, issue them a ticket and have them sign to acknowledge receipt. This system snaps a picture of your car and sends you something through the U.S. Mail, I assume.

That's hardly the same level of certainty.

Mike

Crosshair
August 9, 2005, 07:01 PM
RileyMc

Depends, if you have a light with a .000001 yellow light time an a road with a 40MPH speed limit I will disagree with you. Some lights in my town NEED to be retimed. Local radio station is bringing up this issue.

Bruce H
August 9, 2005, 07:45 PM
What would be the cost difference between a real live traffic control officer and the cameras? If this is really a safety issue a traffic officer makes more sense.

Technosavant
August 9, 2005, 11:14 PM
If safety is the true reason, do 2 things:
1) extend yellow lights slightly
2) give a longer break between a red light and the next green light

That will let the intersection clear out. Some schmucks will still try to run it, and for those folks intermittent enforcement by a uniformed officer will be sufficient.

Red light cameras are a misused device which becomes a safety hazard. Money is the worst narcotic for municipalities. People stop running the lights, lowing revenue. Then the municipality rigs things so that people can't help but run them or make dangerous maneuvers, increasing revenue again.

I like Jay Nixon. In general, the man has sense. He did defend MO's CCW law; I just wonder what his stance on the 2nd Amendment in general is. He is a Dem I could vote for.

Justin
August 10, 2005, 02:18 AM
But Attorney General Jay Nixon says the photographs won't provide enough proof to ticket motorists.

"I think it's pretty clear these pictures can't be the sole or only evidence to cite drivers for violating state traffic laws," Nixon said in a telephone interview. "I have deep concern whether taking someone's picture rolling through a stop light is adequate evidence in and of itself to uphold a state traffic law."

Huzzah! This guy gets it right on this one.

Arnold Police Chief Robert Shocke said the violation won't go on the person's driving record. In other words, this is purely about revenue generation. After all, if this doesn't put any points on your license, you're probably less likely to attempt to fight it in court.

I'm opposed to any type of traffic enforcement that is not about safety. But as much as we scream the "it's all revenue generation" line, it is not always true. Heck, most cities of any size make only a small portion of their revenue on traffic fines. Red light and speed cameras will not change that terribly much. I think I have to disagree with you on this one. I'm certainly no expert, but a wild guess tells me that the cost to install and maintain this equipment per year is probably a lot less than training and paying an officer to sit and keep an eye peeled for traffic infractions. Also, this thing isn't programmed to make value judgements. In the example given of someone running a yellow/red light to avoid a rear-end collision an officer would (hopefully) give the driver a pass because he was avoiding an accident. No such luck with a camera setup. Also, I'll bet that the data entry of your license plate and the subsequent issuance of the citation is all automated, which means you aren't paying anyone for the data entry and all of the intermediate steps.

carebear
August 10, 2005, 02:25 AM
Also, having an actual officer do the stops provides a both a visual deterrent (the car sitting there) and a statistically-demonstrated increased chance of catching someone with other warrants out.

Them real baddies and repeat offenders tend to drive bad regardless of priors.

It's their scofflaw natures.













Might even give 'em a chance to spot an incriminating coffee can in the back seat. Let's see a red light camera do that! :evil:

Coronach
August 10, 2005, 02:58 AM
Justin,

I'm not saying that it wouldn't be a money maker, just that in the grand scheme of city finances, I doubt that the money it would rake in would be all that much. I think that there is a point to be made here, but that we're really overstating it.

Technosavant:
Red light cameras are a misused device which becomes a safety hazard. Money is the worst narcotic for municipalities. People stop running the lights, lowing revenue. Then the municipality rigs things so that people can't help but run them or make dangerous maneuvers, increasing revenue again.Again, there is a point to be made here, but stating it like this implies that such things happen with regularity. Sweeping statements like that require proof. Got cites? Of widespread abuse?

By and large, I agree. I don't like red-light and speed cams. Seems too big-brotherish. However, we really don't help our case by using hyperbole.

Mike

Bruce H
August 10, 2005, 07:01 AM
Jay Nixon defended Mo's concealed carry because it was his job. Did the job very well too. That said he isn't fond of firearms in general.

MechAg94
August 10, 2005, 07:59 AM
Actually, those red light cameras cost quite a bit. Plus, a traffic officer could intermittently cover a number of intersections rather that a single one.

Then you have a plan they are trying in Houston where a company is setting up the cameras and doing it for a piece of the fines. I don't like that at all. Of course, that was last year. I don't know if they actually did it or not.

Crosshair
August 10, 2005, 08:27 AM
Don't quite a few cameras end up with bullet holes in them??

aquapong
August 10, 2005, 09:21 AM
Hopefully the AG of MO does something about it and takes it to court. On a side note, Arnold MO (where this story is taking place) is also taking people's homes to build a Lowes...just to give ya'll an idea of what type of governance is going on there. The motion to take the homes was filed hours after the Kelo vs New London verdict.

Greg L
August 10, 2005, 09:34 AM
Earlier this year Cincinnati announced that they had a budget shortfall of several million dollars & that they were going to use the cameras to make up the difference. There was NO pretending that it had anything to do with safety, just revenue generation to the tune of multiple THOUSANDS of tickets per day.

The cameras aren't up as of now (I'm fairly sure, but I try to stay out of Cincinnati) & someone got an expensive lesson on how not to run a publicity campaign :evil: .

R.H. Lee
August 10, 2005, 11:31 AM
Am I driving? Maybe, maybe not. In order to issue a 'normal' traffic ticket a cop needs to observe a violation, stop the car, positively ascertain the identity of the driver, issue them a ticket and have them sign to acknowledge receipt I suppose a defense could include "it was my car but I was not driving it......." How detailed is the photo? Does it show the driver? If it clearly shows you behind the wheel, isn't that as good as a positive ID by a real live cop? I mean you come into court with your bare face hanging out, present your driver's license with your photo which matches the photo of the driver taken at the exact moment of the offense.

That sounds conclusive to me. You can't even say the officer was wrong; you didn't actually run the red, it was still yellow, blah, blah, yackety quack.

tyme
August 10, 2005, 12:46 PM
Riley, traffic cams are not exactly 6-megapixel digital cameras. And if they were, what good would it do? Do you think the city sends lens cleaners out every morning?

These things have poor optics, the lenses are dirty, the resolution is poor, and unless the driver is a midget, probably won't get the driver's hair in the picture -- cameras are angled down, and most cars have dark tinting at the top of the windshield.

Coronach
August 10, 2005, 01:03 PM
Also, while some cameras take pics of the front and the back, many just snap pictures of the rear of the car. I agree, a picture might indeed implicate you, but only if it is clear and from the front.

Mike

R.H. Lee
August 10, 2005, 01:12 PM
Doesn’t somebody make license plate frames with plastic covers that reflect light in such a way as to make photograghing the plate number impossible?

Coronach
August 10, 2005, 01:17 PM
Yes. IIRC, they're set up so that anyone can view the plate perfectly fine from a position ~ on the road behind the car, but if the POV of the observer (or camera) is moved off to the side too far, or up in the air too far, they just get a blur.

I imagine that if these get too popular, the elected representitives will move to ban them, too.

Mike

Jeff White
August 10, 2005, 02:11 PM
Already banned in several states. There is also a spray that makes the plate too reflective for the camera. From what I understand when the flash goes off the plate is just a blur on film, the plate is readable with the naked eye and you can't tell it's been modified.

Jeff

Greg L
August 10, 2005, 02:25 PM
They've gotten around the "prove it was me driving" defense. Essentially unless you rat out your friend that you loaned your car to then the ticket belongs to you (a stolen vehicle report dated before the ticket would probably work though).

Someone brought up the cost of the cameras. From what I understand they are installed/serviced/ticketed from a private company & they split the proceeds 50/50 with the city. So for the city it is just a pure income stream for them (not counting minor court costs from the few that fight the tickets). For the company, after the inital hardware costs & minimal ongoing overhead it is a cash cow for them. What is needed on the part of the community that is getting screwed is for everyone who gets a ticket to demand a court hearing essentially shutting the system down. Or of course there is the solution of adding some .22" diameter holes to the cameras - you wouldn't want them overheating from the lack of adequate ventilation now would you :neener: (not that I would ever advocate such a thing mind you, just saying....).

Coronach
August 10, 2005, 02:39 PM
Curious. I wonder how the whole "you must rat out your friend" routine would work in court. I confess to not knowing much about traffic court beyond my part of it, which is to show up and testify. What happens before and after I do that is not 100% clear, though I know the basics.

I'm just trying to reconcile the "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" standard for guilt with a requirement to provide the identity (read: 'proof') of the other driver. Besides, sometimes people don't know who was driving their car. It seems totally alien to me, but people really, truly do loan cars to people that they don't know. Usually there are controlled substances involved, but not always. Ever loaned a car to a friend? Was he the one driving the whole time? Do you know for sure?

"Your honor, I loaned my car to Bob, and he was using it to drive back and forth to work. On the morning in question, Bob was carpooling with some guy I don't know, and who has since quit the job and left the state. That guy was driving."

I wonder how that would go over?

Mike

DigitalWarrior
August 10, 2005, 03:55 PM
I do some wacky stuff for a living and I bet I know the people who could put this together...

An overview for a system to assist in Stopping Abduction, Felons, Enemies and Terrorists for You.

S.A.F.E.T.Y. Systems (tm) can provide a cognitive array which will allow law enforcement professionals to help provide a quick resolution to Amber Alerts (thereby reducing the risk to abducted children). The system will also allow law enforcement officials to locate vehicles used in crimes, before destruction of crucial evidence can occur. It will also provide additional evidence in support of ongoing investigations.

Because the following have circumstances exist, we can implement this system in an expedient manner.
1. It is established that there is no right to privacy on public roads.
2. Cameras exist in many high traffic places that have the appropriate resolution to display Liscence Plates.
3. Those cameras transmit images to a central repository electronically.

This system will take pictures of most cars (currently cameras need time between snapshots, so not all would be recorded). These pictures would be sent to Optical Character Recognition Softwarewhich will analyse the picture for a license plate, and plot the location and time in a database for retention. Those points may be used to create an approximate timeline of movement and fed into goggle maps for a waypoint picture.

Some scenarios this will be useful:
1. Tracking child abductions.
2. Crimes where the license plate of the suspect is known.
3. Reducing the number innocent suspects by establishing their presence outside the area of the crime.
4. Allowing a terrorists associates to be identified by identifying vector intersections (1)
5. Ensuring that felons and gang members do not travel to areas prohibited by the terms of their probation.
6. Identifying unusual patterns of travel (regular trips from a good part of town to a bad part of town late at night may indicate a habit of narcotics purchasing)

This system will be fully protected from tampering and unauthorized access by use of a C13 cipher and a 4 number randomly generated PIN for assigned to each authorized user. Data Retention Standards will be defined by Department of Homeland Security regulations(2).

All this can be brought to you for the low low price of ONE BILLION DOLLARS and your freedom.

DigitalWarrior

(1)This will be optimised by placing additional cameras at high risk locations, such as mosques, training grounds such as paintball fields and gun ranges, and persian food resturants.
(2)TIA standards are classified and not subject to public review.

GunGoBoom
August 10, 2005, 06:09 PM
Depends on the quality of the picture, angle, lighting, many many other facts and circumstances, such as alibi and whatnot. If you show up and say "Judge, waddent me. My friend borrowed my car that day.", then the question becomes, no differently than it ALWAYS is, in a court of law, whether the evidence is strong enough to overcome your testimony of denial beyond a reasonable doubt - that depends on how much the dude in the pic looks like you, as well as what your alibi witness says ("judge, I can tell you that we wuz at the nudie bar at that time, and I saw him loan that car to lil Vinny"), etc., etc., etc. Depends on what rebuttal evidence you show up with in court, and how clearly the picture shows that it IS or is NOT you running the light. No new law or legal opinion is needed. The judge can and must decide on a case by case, specific basis, whether the evidence amounts to enough for a conviction. Therefore, the whole AG opinion thing is much ado about nothing.

pete f
August 10, 2005, 06:20 PM
did you know that almost no city owns the cameras, they are a service provided by a subcontractor. In many cases you do not pay the city orcounty but instead pay a contractor who then forwards on your fine minus a healthy fee to the government body.

These do not work, they are known to increase rather than decreasse accidents, and create a threat to privacy by taking record images of you without your knowlege or consent.

articles that apply
http://www.fcw.com/geb/articles/2001/sep/geb-comm2-09-01.asp

website of one contractor
http://www.sensystraffic.se/

BigG
August 10, 2005, 06:25 PM
An honest lawyer - who'd a thunk it? I thought that species was extinct. :eek: /sarcasm

:neener:

Waitone
August 10, 2005, 06:27 PM
Depends on what rebuttal evidence you show up with in court, and how clearly the picture shows that it IS or is NOT you running the light. No new law or legal opinion is needed. The judge can and must decide on a case by case, specific basis, whether the evidence amounts to enough for a conviction.You miss the point. The point of the program is to keep out of court and convert a misdemeanor into a revenue event. No points, no squealing to the insurance company, none of that legal stuff. Refuse to pay the fine? Fine, after 3 reminders from the city nasty things will be said about you to the credit rating companies.

R.H. Lee
August 10, 2005, 06:40 PM
sheesh. DW, you forgot the 'facial recognition' software. :p

OK. Forget the cameras. How about posting a patrol unit and officer on the corner 24/7. Amortize the cost monthly and charge each offender accordingly. In other words, if it costs $18,000 per month to staff the intersection, and you're one of 10 people who run the red light during the month, your fine is $1800 (plus an adminsitrative surcharge). If you're the only red light runner that month, you pay $18k. The city neither gains nor loses and the scofflaws pay for enforcement.

DigitalWarrior
August 10, 2005, 08:06 PM
Biometrics as a means of identification is extremely difficult You have to deal with fine turning the cross-over error rate. Do glasses mean it isn't you? no. Do glasses mean it's you? no.

However we are not talking facial recognition. We are talking about a short plain text alphanumeric string shown in high contrast colors on a standard place (front or rear of car between 1 and 4 feet off ground level). There is no more than one font per state (and significantly less I suspect). This is easy stuff. the only difficulty is that currently the lights use a bright flash. That would be intrusive to drivers (aka remind them they are being filmed). I bet we could turn off the flash and digitally enhance the contrast for low-light conditions though.

Deavis
August 10, 2005, 08:23 PM
Curious. I wonder how the whole "you must rat out your friend" routine would work in court. I confess to not knowing much about traffic court beyond my part of it, which is to show up and testify. What happens before and after I do that is not 100% clear, though I know the basics.

I'm just trying to reconcile the "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" standard for guilt with a requirement to provide the identity (read: 'proof') of the other driver. Besides, sometimes people don't know who was driving their car. It seems totally alien to me, but people really, truly do loan cars to people that they don't know. Usually there are controlled substances involved, but not always. Ever loaned a car to a friend? Was he the one driving the whole time? Do you know for sure?

Conorach,

You are missing a fine point here, that is why you don't understand it. This is not a criminal court case but rather a civil one. As you well know, the burden of proof is different between civil and criminal. That is why the ticket doesn't go on your criminal record, it isn't a criminal matter. They don't need you there to testify at all because they don't have to have that strong of a case! The people pushing this scheme aren't stupid. It would be like a parking violation at a State University, the access the DMV, send you a ticket, you go to civil court or pay it.

Also, you talk about the revenue being a small fraction of a cities income except for a small city. If you think about it and realize how many cars you could potentially nab during a single day in a major city, the numbers are staggering. Make the fee low enough that people don't lose their minds at intersections, tweak the yellow, use civil court to your advantage, and you have a huge source of income. Enormous.

According to a speedcameras.org, the UK pocket 120 million pounds in 2003 alone. That is big money...

Wanna see why the private companies are salivating? Check towards the bottom of page 1...
http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d03408r.pdf

DigitalWarrior
August 10, 2005, 09:59 PM
Deavis, THANK YOU!!! While I am in NH desperately lobbying to avoid having them install this nightmare, I just might open a monitoring company and get a cut of that 50 mil they are fleecing from the sheeple. Bet I can do it cheaper with just two programmers and 1 Quality Control Guy.

I promise that if I win a contract I will spend a part of that money to open a web-site that states how evil this tech is.

Coronach
August 11, 2005, 06:29 AM
OH! It's a civil court proceeding? How very, very odd.

Hmmm.

Mike

ravinraven
August 11, 2005, 08:34 AM
"Don't quite a few cameras end up with bullet holes in them??"

Bullet holes need to appear elsewhere.

And they have PPPs [Property Piracy Pimps] there too. Hmmm....

rr

Firethorn
August 11, 2005, 09:06 AM
"Don't quite a few cameras end up with bullet holes in them??"

Makes me wonder how much something like this it would take to take the revenue portion out of the system by:

A: taking the camera down enough that revenues are, say, halved or quartered.
B: Necessitating ~weekly replacement of a $1000 camera done by a worker costing ~$400 for the visit.
C: Likely posting of officer on site to try to catch said vandal(who leaves said camera alone while officer is on station).

Agent P
August 11, 2005, 09:19 AM
Several cities, including New York, Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles, already use red-light cameras. Some studies, though, show that legal or not, the cameras don't make intersections safer.

I was in downtown Chicago earlier this year, and let me tell you, the streets there are WAY safer than here in Cleveland (traffic-wise). I was out walking at many different times of the day, and also at night, and I did not see anyone run a red light, and no jaywalkers for that matter either. Compare that to where I live, and there is a huge difference. People here treat the traffic rules more like suggestions.

I'm all for cameras, but if the timing is tweaked to result in more violations that's just not cool. Not to mention unsafe. I have no problem acknowledging that red light cameras are a source of income for the city. If it gets folks to drive safer, no matter if that is the purpose, I'm glad.

And if people didn't TAILGATE like COMPLETE FLAMING IDIOTS, maybe they wouldn't ram someone who abruptly stops to avoid being ticketed. This is why I have tashibishi.

Okay, I think I'm done. :o

carebear
August 11, 2005, 12:34 PM
Agent P,

Are you comparing the downtown "walking and shopping" area of Chicago with Cleveland in general, or just Cleveland's pedestrian downtown area?

Cause you could make the same "safer" remark about Seattle's downtown, or San Francisco's, or any other real major city with a compressed downtown shopping district and decades of primarily pedestrian use. I don't recall a lot of camera's in either one of those.

In the downtown, cars are the interlopers and it has little to do with cameras. They were probably mostly like that before.

Or Clevelanders are just not as good drivers as Chicagoans. :evil:

Deavis
August 11, 2005, 03:16 PM
OH! It's a civil court proceeding? How very, very odd.

It isn't odd at all and you have already mentioned why it has to be civil. The burden of proof would be too hard to take it to criminal court and if you make it civil, ie it doesn't go on your record, more people will pay than fight. How many people go for defensive driving or deferred adjudication and pay the fine instead of taking hits on their insurance. It is very very clever and not odd at all.

Tropical Z
August 11, 2005, 04:01 PM
These cameras are a perfect reason to "accidently" always have enough mud on your plates to make identification impossible.

Agent P
August 11, 2005, 06:00 PM
Are you comparing the downtown "walking and shopping" area of Chicago with Cleveland in general, or just Cleveland's pedestrian downtown area?

Carebear,
When I was in Chicago, we hoofed it all around the Magnificent Mile, and under the elevated trains (which I didn't get to ride :( ). I don't know if that's considered the "walking and shopping" area. As for Cleveland, the crummy drivers are EVERYWHERE. I barely ever drive downtown (or in any major city, for that matter. Too scared. But I'll navigate with a map if need be), but I've walked around a lot, and the jaywalking is pretty bad. I guess I'm comparing Chicago to the parts of Cleveland where I normally roam, which is the West side and suburbs.

Rusher
August 11, 2005, 07:36 PM
As one member said they have a spray paint/coating that can make the plate over reflective....

Can anyone see that as another excuse to pull you over and shake you down...."sir ...the reason I pulled you over is your plate appeared to shiny or bright or distorted".....


Kinda like the whole illegal lane change bit....or is it unsafe lane change???

Al Norris
August 11, 2005, 08:22 PM
Hmmm... Strickly out of curiosity, how large would an EMP generator be that could effectively fry the circuits of the camera at say, 150 ft max range? What would it cost and how could it be disguised? It would probably have to be something aimable... Portable Microwave generator?

I smell $$ for the right people....

carebear
August 11, 2005, 11:14 PM
Some places make deliberately obscuring your plates with camera defeating sprays and coatings a crime itself.

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