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Red Light Cameras  (NYC)  Press Clippings
a mediaeater report
this is a *** working document ***
Corrections and Information to be CONFIRMED
Revised:  Saturday, November 24, 2001 - 8:22:54 AM
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Press Releases and News Items 


FACING ALBANY ROADBLOCK, NYC MUST FAKE TRAFFIC SAFETY PROGRAM
From 'Mobilizing the Region', a weekly bulletin from the Tri-State
Transportation Campaign
 
"Frustrated by the inaction of the NY State legislature on a bill
to allow expansion of NYC's modest red-light camera
program, the NYC Dept. of Transportation is likely to install
dummy camera boxes at 200 intersections, the NY Post
reported last week. The cameras would look exactly like the
50 red light cameras in operation around the city. The
cameras photograph license plates of motorists who drive
through red lights. Because they will not facilitate the issuance
of traffic tickets, the decoy cameras do not require state
legislative approval.
 
"Although willing to approve a bill that lets drivers turn right
on red in Staten Island over the objections of Mayor Giuliani,
the NYPD, NYC DOT and safety advocates, the legislature
has balked at expanding the highly effective light camera
program and starting a new speed camera program (MTR
#330). In particular, Assembly Transportation Committee
Chair David Gannt (Rochester) has voiced concerns over the
encroachment of cameras on civil rights and police jobs.
Advocates wonder why Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver,
who hails from Manhattan, has not reminded Gannt that
drivers do not have the right to break the law, and that NYC
pedestrian deaths and injuries remain far too high.
 
"Red light and speed cameras have proven records boosting
traffic law compliance. The Daily News reported last week
that additional red light cameras installed last January along
Queens Boulevard - a roadway notorious for its 72
pedestrian deaths over the last 7 years - have yielded a 54%
reduction in red light violations there. 11,000 violations
recorded in the last 6 months of 2000 shrank to 5,000 in the
first six months of 2001. The British Medical Journal has
reported that speed cameras in London produced a 60%
reduction in deaths on the M25, one of the city's busiest
highways."
 
Source:  http://www.tstc.org/bulletin/



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Motorist Receives Same Red-Light Photo For Different Locations
By Lawrence Morahan Senior Staff Writer

www.CNSNews.com - (CNSNews.com) - When Virginia motorist Ron Kronk
was cited for a traffic violation recently, he was more than a little surprised. But
when he found a second violation notice in the same mailing, also based on
hidden camera pictures, he was sure there was something wrong. The
notifications he received bore the same photo, but cited different locations.

"The pictures are the same, everything else is different," said Kronk, who first
told the story to Chris Core of WMAL Radio. The first violation notification
claimed Kronk ran a red light at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and North Lynn
in Arlington on Aug. 24. The second notice said he ran a light at the corner of
Jefferson Davis Highway and 27th Street in northern Virginia on the same day -
but showed the same photo. "I'm going to court on this because I figure if the
computer made one mistake, it can make two," said Kronk, a construction
worker who will not receive financial compensation from his company when he
takes time off to appear for a scheduled court appearance Dec. 7. A
spokesman for the Arlington Police Department said if Kronk supplies him with
the data, the department would investigate the matter. "If a mistake has been
made, it will be corrected," the spokesman said. However, Kronk's case
provides ammunition to a growing number of opponents of traffic cameras,
who say the cameras impinge on people's freedom without enhancing safety.

"You're supposed to be able to face your accuser in court, but with these
cameras, the accuser is a camera. There's no officer who can observe and
testify as to what actually happened, just an automated device that may or may
not be accurate," said James Plummer, a spokesman for the National
Consumer Coalition's Privacy Group. A San Diego judge threw out months of
traffic tickets recently because the cameras weren't being operated accurately
with regard to the placement of the sensors and the timing of the yellow light.

California Superior Court Judge Ronald Styn ruled Aug. 16 that the cameras do
not violate privacy rights, but that they were "untrustworthy and unreliable."
Vehicle owners received tickets even though the photo does not identify them.

The system suffered from a "total lack of oversight," he said. Styn ordered city
officials to appear in court to make their case for installing cameras. The
hearing, originally scheduled for Aug. 31, was postponed to Sept. 4. Cameras
are becoming more popular with state and local governments as a means to
generate revenue. In the 10 days following installation of a camera system in
the District of Columbia, cameras generated 15,000 tickets. District officials
said they expect the cameras to generate $10 million in additional revenue
annually. Responding to criticism, District officials are seeking to set up a
fixed-fee deal with a private operator of the cameras, instead of the current
arrangement in which the contractor, Lockheed Martin, receives a cut of every
fine paid. House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) and the American Civil
Liberties Union say cameras violate constitutional privacy and due process
rights. "There is only one answer to the so-called red-light running crisis,"

Armey testified before a House Transportation Subcommittee on July 31. "It's
called sound engineering. It's called putting cops on the beat in the midst of
our community to do their job." Judge Styn said cameras enhance safety on the
streets. "There is no question that there is a legitimate governmental purpose
in installing red light cameras to promote safety on highways," he said. Tucker
from the National Consumer Coalition said a safety argument can be made,
"But you know what Ben Franklin said about those who are willing to give up
liberty for safety - eventually [they're] going to have neither. I think that's
something very important to look at." "And as far as safety goes, there are
always unintended consequences where people who are so afraid of getting
snapped by one of these red light cameras will stop short on a yellow light and
the car behind them might not. That creates a different safety problem. So there
are definitely downsides to it, even just looking at the safety side," Tucker said.

CNSNews.com

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Camera citations described as a 'tax'
Brian DeBose THE WASHINGTON TIMES Published 10/4/01 

The majority of the D.C. photo-radar and red-light camera citations have been issued
to drivers in Maryland and Virginia, raising concerns that city officials are using the
technology as a "commuter tax." 

"It is a 100 percent possibility that the city is using speed cameras as a revenue
initiative and maybe even using them to initiate a commuter tax," said Richard Diamond,
spokesman for House Majority Leader Dick Armey.

Mr. Armey, Texas Republican, has long opposed the automated photographic
devices as an invasion of privacy and as a revenue-generating tool for municipalities.

Recent figures from D.C. police show that 64 percent of the city's automated
speeding citations have been issued to Maryland and Virginia drivers since the
photo-radar program began Aug. 6. Last year, 75 percent of the city's red-light-camera
citations were issued to Maryland and Virginia drivers.

Earlier figures provided by police showed that 60 percent of its photo-radar citations
were issued for violations on heavily traveled commuter roads  including highways such
as Interstates 295 and 395 and limited-access roads with no intersections or pedestrian
traffic.

The city has issued more than 31,000 photo-radar citations this year and more than
240,000 red-light-camera citations since that program began in August 1999.

Some city leaders, including D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, have long argued
that the District should tax suburban commuters who work in the city to help cover
road-maintenance costs and to recoup revenue commuters would have provided in
property and sales taxes if they lived in the District.

Many metropolitan cities, such as New York and Chicago, levy taxes against
commuters. Every effort to implement a commuter tax for the District has failed.

 When D.C. Council member Adrian M. Fenty took office in January, the Ward 4
Democrat said a major concern was that Maryland and Virginia drivers were "using our
roads and not paying taxes." 

 But Mr. Fenty yesterday said he does not think the District's photographic-citation
programs are being used as a commuter tax. "The biggest complaint [in my ward] 
is speeding in residential neighborhoods, and I think we would use [speed cameras] 
even if we had a commuter tax," he said.  Mr. Fenty called for safety measures such as 
speed bumps and rumble strips on residential roads, as well as longer yellow lights.
Resident Sally Strain, who lives on MacArthur Boulevard, said she favors traffic-calming 
devices rather than speed cameras in her neighborhood.  "They can't be here to ticket 
every day, and the speeding will continue," Miss Strain said.

The District has five photo-radar cameras mounted in specially equipped police cars
that patrol 60 "enforcement zones" in the city. A sixth photo-radar camera is permanently
mounted near Gallaudet University.

The city has 39 red-light cameras mounted at various intersections.
Erik Scrum of the National Motorists Association cited Fairfax County's traffic
initiatives as evidence that photographing motorists does not necessarily reduce driving
offenses.

"The red-light camera at the intersection of Fair Ridge Drive and U.S. Route 50
issued as many as 1,500 tickets consistently for months, and it did nothing to stop
violators, but after they increased the yellow-light time by 1.5 seconds there was an
immediate 90 percent drop in red-light running," said Mr. Scrum, whose group advocates
for drivers against photo-radar and red-light cameras.

"Engineering changes to roads and traffic lights are always a better solution," he said.
The District's photo-radar cameras have generated $420,584 and issued a total of
31,220 speeding citations since the program's introduction on Aug. 6. The District has
collected an average of $69 per citation from 6,081 vehicle owners who have paid their
fines.

The fines range from $30 to $200, depending on how much the vehicles exceed the
threshold limit set by camera operators  at least 11 mph above the posted speed limit.

Copyright  2001 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.



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Photo-radar income short of expectations
Brian DeBose THE WASHINGTON TIMES  Published 10/3/01

The District's photo-radar cameras have generated $420,584 and
issued a total of 31,220 speeding citations since the program's
1introduction on Aug. 6, but the figures are significantly lower than city
officials had expected.

Metropolitan Police officials had estimated the automated-camera
program would produce about 80,000 citations and $1 million in revenue
a month.

The District has collected an average of $69 per citation from 6,081
vehicle owners who have paid their fines. The fines range from $30 to
$200, depending on how much the vehicles exceed the threshold limit set
by camera operators  at least 11 mph above the posted speed limit.

City officials said the 25,139 vehicle owners who have not paid their
fines will receive "reminders" by mail next month, followed by more
strongly worded letters if they refuse to comply. D.C. drivers who do not
comply can have their vehicles immobilized or towed, and can be
prevented from renewing their driver's licenses and registration.

The District has no means to enforce penalties on out-of-town drivers
because it has no reciprocity agreements with other states allowing such
action. 

Photo-radar citations are issued against offending vehicles, not drivers,
and do not count against drivers' records. Out-of-town scofflaws could
have their vehicles immobilized or towed if they park illegally or are
stopped by police in the city.

About 49 percent of the citations were issued to drivers from
Maryland, 15 percent to drivers from Virginia and 32 percent to D.C.
residents. Nearly 5 percent were issued to drivers from other states.

"Part of the reason [for more citations against Maryland residents] is
the larger number of Maryland drivers who work in the city vs. Virginia
and the District, but the numbers are pretty consistent with the red-light
camera tickets, so far as we can tell," said police spokesman Kevin
Morison.

Last year, more than 46 percent of the city's red-light-camera citations
were issued to drivers from Maryland, about 25 percent to drivers from
Virginia and 21 percent to D.C. drivers. About 7 percent were issued to
drivers from other states.

The National Motorists Association, which advocates for drivers
against photo-radar and red-light cameras, says the District and other
cities that use the technology "are not as interested in enforcement as they
are about generating revenue."

"It has been proven that better road engineering  increasing
yellow-light time, using lights with larger lenses or increasing speed limits
 does more to reduce the numbers of red-light runners and
speed-related accidents than the cameras," said Eric Skrum, spokesman
for the National Motorists Association. 

 "Speed limits should be set to represent the velocity that 85 percent of
drivers use on roads; otherwise, you are turning normally law-abiding
citizens into criminals."

Earlier figures provided by the police department showed that 60
percent of its photo-radar citations were issued for violations on heavily
traveled commuter roads  including highways like Interstates 295 and
395 and limited-access roads with no intersections or pedestrian traffic. 

That percentage has not changed, but "residential streets are now
patrolled 80 percent of the time" instead of the original goal of 75 percent,
Mr. Morison said. 

"It just works out that way because we are more concerned with those
roads in residential neighborhoods," he said.

Copyright  2001 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Assorted news items 

Motorists race to challenge red-light cameras 
Case Closed: No Safety Benefit to Red Light Cameras
The Red Light Running Crisis Is it Intentional? 
Cams Capped -  T.A. Magazine Article  4/00, p.10 
Red Lights at High-Risk Intersections 5/2001  
full report pdf


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