It looks like Red Light Cameras will become the norm in Rome Georgia, the article below from the Rome News Tribune details why these cameras won’t be going away any time soon.
Rome, Georgia – ROME’S city government is apparently capable of changing its tune just as fast as it can make its traffic lights go from green to red.
When Rome installed its first automated, ticket-writing, red-light camera at the intersection of Turner McCall Boulevard and Hicks Drive back in 2004, the rationale was all about traffic safety, averting injury, perhaps even saving lives.
Now, with a second one on the way for the Martha Berry Boulevard/Veterans Memorial Highway intersection, the rationale seems to have become that such devices make Rome a lot of money via the $70 fines generated.
Kirk Milam, the city’s public-services manager, appeared to admit as much in saying “(the cameras) have been effective and met our expectations. It doesn’t eliminate the violations … we still have violations that occur on a regular basis and that’s the purpose of the camera, to try and catch the violations.”
The safety rationale is out the window since accidents at the McCall-Hicks crossroads have actually gone up since the cameras went in (58 in 2005, the first full year of operation, to 72 in 2007).
TO BE SURE, the wrecks may (or may not) be “less bad” than previously, the assumption being there would be more rear-end collisions (because of the guy ahead of you slamming on his brakes to avoid a ticket) and fewer T-bone wrecks (where the other driver blows through the red light and puts his radiator into your driver’s seat). Some national studies don’t bear this out.
Still, the entire “safety” defense is now dubious. That’s not the case with the bottom-line motive. Revenues in Rome went up from $172,094 in 2005 to $205,431 in 2007.
Even more disturbing is that Rome appears to be looking at this as some sort of new city franchise operation. It’s already mentioned future installation of several more such red-light traps … pardon, cameras.
Rome paid cash for the first installation (using grant money). Now the plan has turned into a sort of rent-a-camera operation.
The city plans to contract with Redflex Traffic Systems of South Melbourne, Australia and then pay a monthly fee for the cameras, installation and maintenance with any “profit” after that going to Rome. By the way, you might want to consider investing in Redflex, which now has more than 1,000 of these cameras running. It has 86 million shares of stock outstanding and its profits are increasing an average of 100 percent a year.
ROME APPARENTLY has discarded safety as an argument because it has found something that it can sell: The bad driving habits of its residents and visitors.
While we are admirers of capitalism and free enterprise, isn’t this a bit like profiting from the wages of sin, much as operating a house of ill repute?
This newspaper has opposed these red-light cameras from the git-go, though for the more traditional reasons of their being a violation of due process in several ways. First of all, it is the owner of the car that gets the ticket, not the driver whom the cameras can’t identify. Second, the defendant can hardly call a camera to the stand and cross-examine it if willing to challenge the ticket.
State Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, who represents a portion of Floyd County, has been trying to get a bill through the General Assembly outlawing these robotic cops. House Speaker Glenn Richardson would like for the state to grab off most of the proceeds, figuring that will chill municipal enthusiasm for making a fast-ticket franchise out of poor driving. West Virginia has already banned the devices, as have a number of cities.
IN FACT, opposition to these devices for any number of reasons — rights violations, don’t stop accidents and so forth — has grown so large and organized that there’s actually an Internet site devoted to keeping up with developments in this citizen uprising against Robocops.
Go to http://www.thenewspaper.com, which subtitles itself as “a journal of the politics of driving,” to keep current on developments. Recently it featured an article about insurance companies fighting a proposal in Alabama to deny them “the ability to use photo tickets to increase profit.” Alabama wants to legalize traffic cameras (they can be used to generate speeding tickets, too) but bar the tickets from being used to raise motorists’ insurance rates.
Most states, like Georgia, don’t add “points” against a driver’s license because of such robot-issued tickets for the very reason that motorists can’t cross-examine an electronic circuit on the witness stand. However, several of them (California, Illinois, Arizona) permit insurance companies to use the same tickets as black marks against a driver’s record for purposes of raising their rates.
THOSE UNOBTRUSIVE, near-invisible cameras on posts at the Turner McCall/Hicks intersection are actually tentacles of a monster that appears intent of grabbing control of the highways and streets. Or maybe, the way Rome is going at it, perhaps they could be called drive-thru windows to your wallet.
Article from the Rome News Tribune, RomeNewsTribune.com