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Commission Suggests Making Red Light Cameras Legal in Pennsylvania

Red light cameras may become legal in Pennsylvania, according to The Tribune Democrat. A pilot program has been in effect in Philadelphia since 2005, and based on findings from this program, the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission recommended making the cameras legal throughout the state, reports the news source. The report from the commission also included a recommendation that would create $2.7 billion in revenue from the cameras over the next five years, according to the media outlet. Many opponents of red light cameras believe that the programs are about generating profit rather than increasing drivers' safety. Some U.S. cities have seen the potential for income offered by citation programs. In New Orleans, the city government found that revenue from red light cameras has increased by an estimated 419 percent since 2008, earning the city a projected $18 million this year, according to The Pelican Post. Gary Biller, executive director of the National Motorists Association, spoke out against the state-wide implementation of the red-light camera program. Biller told The Tribune Democrat that instead of using red light cameras, Pennsylvania officials should consider increasing the length of yellow lights, which has been shown to effectively decrease accidents.
Posted in Government, Red Light
Aug 08th, 2011

Washington State Judge Rules Against Red Light Camera Company

American Traffic Solutions' (ATS) request to keep a red light camera initiative off the ballot in the city of Bellingham, Washington, has been denied by a Superior court judge, according to Herald Net. The lawsuit was filed after the city of Bellingham put the red light camera initiative on its ballot for the upcoming November elections. If passed, the initiative would end the use of the city's four red light cameras and two speed cameras that they signed a three-year agreement on, according to NWCN. ATS was denied a temporary request to keep it off the ballot, but will still have a hearing on August 17 to get an injunction that would keep the vote off the ballot. The judge ruled against them stating they have did not show they would suffer immediate and irreparable injury if it were passed, according to Herald Net. The Arizona based company believes it should not be allowed on the ballot because it would violate the contract Bellingham signed with them. According to NWCN, ATS has already lost a similar lawsuit in Multikeo and the voters overwhelmingly voted to get rid of the cameras.
Aug 05th, 2011

Three States That Have Utilized Red Light Cameras

As red light cameras are becoming more widely used nationwide and being adopted by many states as we speak, we should step back and take a look at their history, as it may help us see what to expect with them in the future. Red light cameras got their start in New York as a safety measure after an 18-month-old girl was struck by a driver running a red light in 1982. The state's Department of Transportation was then spurred to start their automated enforcement program and eventually got it operating on 25 traffic lights in 1993. Years later, red traffic cameras are still prevalent in in a number of states: California, Washington and Florida. California California saw the cameras as early as 1996 where Beverly Hills initiated the ticket-giving program. Now 15 years later, many southern California cities remain dedicated to the program, after Los Angeles city council has voted to do away with it, according to the L.A. Times. The time in between those years has seen plenty of varying opinions from different cities and towns. Cities like Beverly Hills and Santa Clarita have reaped the rewards of half-million dollar profits and increased safety at red lights, while other cities such as Long Beach and El Monte have cancelled because they are not netting enough profit. Washington Another west coast state has been seeing similar stories. According to Komo News, Redmond, Washington, is going to be putting red light cameras on the ballot. The city will be able to decide the fate of the cameras which haven't been seeing much profit, but have greatly reduced the rate of red light accidents. Bellingham is being sued by American Traffic Solutions for allegedly violating the contract for putting its red light camera initiative to a vote as well. Florida The Sunshine State has seen its share of traffic tickets as most of their red light camera iniatives have been underway for around a year now. Tallahassee recently issued a whopping 17,001 citations over the period of a year, according to Florida Today. The state itself has generated approximately $19 million in revenue from the 40 municipalities using the cameras. But like the other states, some Florida towns are still considering getting rid of the programs. Looking at these several examples, there seems to be a divide between cities that want nothing to do with them, and others that want to profit off of red light cameras and the red light tickets they issue.
Posted in Government, Red Light
Aug 04th, 2011

Red Light Cameras in Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Six new red light cameras are being installed at intersections in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, according to the Daily News Jounral. The news source reports that the new cameras are part of a contract the city signed with American Traffic Solutions, Inc (ATS). Under the contract, the company will update and maintain the traffic cameras in the city for the next five years. The updated systems were paid for by ATS and the intersections are now outfitted with ground sensors which are more accurate than the cameras alone, according to Murfreesboro Police spokesman Kyle Evans. Evans also told the media outlet that these changes will not affect how police issue citations. Many areas of the country are deciding whether or not to end use of their red-light camera systems. In Los Angeles, the city council recently voted unanimously to discontinue the program, according to the Los Angeles Times. However, the newspaper reports that many cities in Southern California have chosen to continue issuing red-light camera citations. The Murfreesboro Police Department issued 44,821 citations since the program began in 2008, according to the Daily News Journal. Evans stated his hope that the new updates will allow citations to be issued quicker, according to the news agency.
Posted in Government, Red Light
Aug 01st, 2011

San Bernardino Red Light Camera Agreement May Be Costly

"The provisions of the agreement allow the early termination of the contract with proper notice and each of the locations has a required payment of costs," the city council report said. According to the news source, the police station provided the city with an incorrect formula for calculating the costs of cancelling the service, which caused for the large difference in cancellation costs. City employees are now working together to get the correct figures. Many cities across the country have been working towards cancelling their red light camera service due to the cost of maintenance. For example, the town of Davie, Florida, is contemplating dropping its red light camera program before it starts issuing tickets, according to the Miami Herald. The program was initially appealing because of safety features, but the town eventually realized it would cost money to operate unless it issued about 1,000 tickets a month.
Posted in Government, Red Light
Jul 29th, 2011

Red Light Camera Tickets Create Large Revenues for Municipalities, Private Firms

It's no secret that traffic tickets of all sorts result in increased revenues for states around the country. Many believe that instances of traffic law enforcement such as parking and red light tickets are used to increase a state's revenue. Particularly frustrating to many are the red light ticket cameras that allow authorities to hand down fines to motorists even though no one is present to witness the alleged infraction. "Revenue seems to be driving the red light camera rage," Eric Skrum, Communications Director for the National Motorists Association, said. "If cities were truly concerned about intersection safety, their engineers would be applying sound engineering practices that improve compliance with traffic laws and traffic signals while reducing accidents rather than installing ticket cameras." Red light ticket cameras are big business. According to the Weekly Standard, the city of Chicago made $64 million from such cameras in 2009. In fact, the industry is so large that defense contractor Lockheed Martin sold its red light camera division to Affiliated Computer Services in 2001 for $800 million. These numbers are staggering to attempt to comprehend but what can be an even more frustrating number for motorists is $446, which according to MSNBC is the average fine in Los Angeles. While it may appear that bureaucrats in city halls and governor's mansions may be rolling in green from these red light tickets, much of the proceeds go to the private companies that are contracted to operate the cameras. Indeed, the city of Oxnard, California, pays Redflex Traffic Systems more than $30,000 each month to operate its red light cameras, a fee that is ultimately paid by citizens, either through traffic tickets or through taxes. These contracts with red light camera operators can be so expensive and binding that cities can't even get out of them without paying millions of dollars. Such is the case in Houston, where the city must use its red light cameras even though its citizens voted to turn them off. If the city had followed the popular will, it would have owed $20 million to American Traffic Solutions for violating its contract. While it is difficult to pinpoint exactly how these traffic fines are used by officials, one can be sure that it is revenue coming directly out of the pockets of citizens.
Posted in Government, Red Light
Jul 27th, 2011

Red Light Cameras Under Debate in Peoria

Red light camera tickets may end in Peoria, Arizona, according to The Arizona Republic. The City Council will have to decide whether or not to renew its contract with Redflex Traffic System, which expires in October, reports the newspaper. The City Council's decision will depend significantly on crash data, according to the news source. The four intersections that had cameras installed saw a combined 100 or more accidents each year during the three-year contract with Redflex. The year prior to the cameras, accidents in the intersections only totaled 82, according to the newspaper. Peoria Police Lieutenant Doug Steele told the media outlet that he will be examining the data more closely to see if the increase in accidents was caused by the red light cameras. According to the National Motorists Association, red light cameras can increase rear-end accidents because drivers often stop short rather than risk receiving a citation. The Peoria police department will also be considering the financial impact of the cameras, according to The Arizona Republic. The city has actually been losing money on the red light cameras. The news source reports that although Peoria received an estimated $300,000 from citations last year, once all costs were factored in the city lost $3,194.
Posted in Government, Red Light
Jul 26th, 2011

Decision Reversed in Florida City to Allow Use of Red Light Cameras

The City Council of Clearwater, Florida, recently voted to permit red light cameras, according to the St. Petersburg Times. The newspaper reports that the council initially decided to postpone any further discussion of the plan, but three days later reversed this decision and approved the use of cameras. The red light camera plan was originally postponed due to concern about the cameras' effectiveness, according to the news source. However, Mayor Frank Hibbard told the media outlet that the cameras have more popular support than previously thought. Hibbard also mentioned that a recent Broward County ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the cameras contributed to the reversal of the decision, according the newspaper. Houston legislators also overturned a previous decision and recently decided to re-instate the use of red-light cameras. Tickets will begin to be issued again on Sunday, according to The Houston Chronicle. The city turned the cameras back on July 9, but have not yet begun issuing violations because they lack the manpower to review the video footage, according to the newspaper. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), only nine states currently have laws prohibiting the cameras. The GHSA also reports that 25 states have red light cameras operating in at least one location.
Posted in Government, Red Light
Jul 22nd, 2011

Decision Reversed in Florida City to Allow Use of Red Light Cameras

The City Council of Clearwater, Florida, recently voted to permit red light cameras, according to the St. Petersburg Times. The newspaper reports that the council initially decided to postpone any further discussion of the plan, but three days later reversed this decision and approved the use of cameras. The red light camera plan was originally postponed due to concern about the cameras' effectiveness, according to the news source. However, Mayor Frank Hibbard told the media outlet that the cameras have more popular support than previously thought. Hibbard also mentioned that a recent Broward County ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the cameras contributed to the reversal of the decision, according the newspaper. Houston legislators also overturned a previous decision and recently decided to re-instate the use of red-light cameras. Tickets will begin to be issued again on Sunday, according to The Houston Chronicle. The city turned the cameras back on July 9, but have not yet begun issuing violations because they lack the manpower to review the video footage, according to the newspaper. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), only nine states currently have laws prohibiting the cameras. The GHSA also reports that 25 states have red light cameras operating in at least one location.
Posted in Government, Red Light
Jul 22nd, 2011

Red Light Camera Tickets Generate Millions

Red light camera tickets are a pain for all drivers (but we can help if you get a ticket), however, they are boon to not only the government entities that collect the fines but to the private companies that operate the cameras as well. The amount of money that is generated by red light camera tickets is eye popping as the Houston Chronicle reports that the city of Houston has received more than $50 million in civil fines since the cameras began operation in 2006. While at first this may appear to be a good thing as the city now has more money to provide services, it is money that is coming out of the pocket of everyday people. MSNBC reports that the average fine in Los Angeles - where the city's police commission recently voted to end its red light camera ticket program - is $446. In addition, the agreements that these cities have with the companies that run the cameras, like American Traffic Solutions Inc., are worth millions of dollars. In fact, the city of Houston had a referendum where its citizens voted to end its red light camera program this past November. However, the city's contract with American Traffic Solutions required Houston to either turn the cameras back on (and ignore the will of the people) or pay $20 million in damages to the private company. "The City just went through a very painful budget process in which nearly 750 employees were laid off and park, library and health services were cut back," Houston Mayor Annise Parker said, reports KTRK, an ABC affiliate. "We simply don't have the millions they claim we would owe for violating the court decision and our contractual obligation to [American Traffic Solutions]. Therefore, I have decided the fiscally-prudent path to take is to turn the cameras back on while also seeking a second chance for the voters in the courts." American Traffic Solutions isn't the only private company raking in tens of thousands of dollars from city's across the U.S. The Ventura County Star reports that Redflex Traffic Systems collects $30,500 each month from the city of Oxnard. According to the Dayton Daily News, the city of Dayton, Ohio, has had difficulty trying to get its drivers to pay fines issued by red light cameras. Motorists reportedly owe $3.89 million in unpaid tickets over the past eight years.
Jul 21st, 2011