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Monday, May 7, 2012

Traffic cameras in PA?

Here is some info I received from Jim up Wapwallopen way on both the red-light cameras( RLC's) and speed cameras in work zones in Pennsylvania. I’ve talked to him in person quite a few times, and he definitely knows what he’s talking about.

He believes we should be lobbying against these revenue generators due to fairness issues, traffic safety and traffic flow concerns. And I happen to agree with him.

His email is as follows…

There are various bills for each. Some are for Philly only, some statewide. I can provide more detail on all this, if you wish. The main thing is to get people to contact their state senator, state rep, Lieutenant Governor, Governor, media (talk radio, newspapers, blogs), and friends about this. Calling into talk shows and writing letters to the editor is also cool.

The National Motorists Association has a pile of info on all this, which is unbiased. Since you drive a lot, you should consider joining, as there are many perks.

National Motorists Association

His sample letter loaded with bullet points…

I am writing to ask that the bills authorizing red-light cameras be pulled, or at least not advanced to a floor vote. I would also likely to see ALL forms of camera-based traffic enforcement banned. These bills will inflict serious harm upon the residents of the state, despite claims to the contrary. I also do not want for any other tactics to be utilized to force these through, especially without proper debate, hearings, and public commentary. I have a few reasons I would like for you to consider:

1.Most tickets are for a non-complete stop while turning right on red (legal to turn.) This is NOT a safety issue at all.

2.Why not extend yellow duration on current lights? This is shown to reduce almost all “runnings”, as they are unintentional? People do not blow through lights on purpose, the yellow is too short.

3.Why not synchronize lights so you do not get a red on every block AND all yellows are of the same duration on a road?

4.Sensors can tell if a car is in an intersection, so won't change until clears.

5.Can use all-red interval, to clear cars from intersection.

6.Countdown timers can be used to tell time from yellow to red.

7.Cars get stuck in intersections taking left or right turns, plus they have to slow down significantly and cover more distance than going straight through.

8.Many tickets are for just barely going through, not 5 seconds after the red.

9.Can have view blocked by a large truck.

10.This will cause much unneeded stress, which is bad for safety.

11.There is an incentive to do this for revenue purposes. Why no community service or charitable contribution for a fine?

12.There is an incentive to make “short yellows”, or specifically shorten one yellow on a street where a camera is located.

13.Rules of evidence do not apply at the first appeal, which is REALLY abridging a driver's rights. The state is really looking to get sued here.

14.The bill defines what is discoverable later in court and also what is “right-to-know.” Also a good lawsuit here. You cannot even defend yourself!

15.You get a ticket weeks or months later for out-of-state people, so how is this legal?

You cannot remember it or realistically fight it. If from outside the area, you are home and cannot look at the scene. Due process?

16.Owner cited, not driver.

17.With rental cars or business cars, you will just be billed and cannot appeal.

18.PARALLEL ticketing, in that a cop ticket has different penalties than a camera. YOU CANNOT HAVE DIFFERENT PENALTIES FOR THE SAME VIOLATION, based upon enforcement method.

19.Even if you claim this is for safety, if a person gets a ticket 1-3 months after an incident, won't they drive recklessly until then? A cop can issue a ticket on the spot to change behavior NOW.

20.There have been widely reported cases of incorrect tickets being issued. It is assumed you are guilty.

21.How can you prove a person got the mailed ticket?

22.What is the definition of running the light? If you cross the STOP line by 1 inch when the light changes, it should be OK, but is it? What is different cities define running a light differently? Legal?

23.How can you tell from a snapshot picture what happened?

24.Drivers will avoid cities with cameras or at least the streets/intersections with them. Traffic volumes change year-to-year anyway. Even if camera companies showed crashes decreasing, it wouldn't matter, since people are driving in other places. I have seen studies showing INCREASES in crashes, though.

25.There are no clearly defined standards of what the qualifications are to work on the camera systems, what the calibration requirements are, which equipment can be used, who the people are authorized to install and maintain this equipment, etc. I also do not see this info being made available for a traffic case, should you appeal. They will likely block you from getting it.

Rear-end collisions may go up with cameras, as people slam the brakes or floor it. Many people will do crazy stuff, such as refuse to take a right on a red, stop if a truck is in front of them, refuse to take a turn if they could get stuck in an intersection, etc., for fear of tickets. This will cause more crashes, road rage, and traffic backups. Unconstitutional, as not accused by person and cannot confront in court. Incorrect tickets issued. Heavy lobbying from camera makers. As you see here, much of this is questionable regarding legality.

THE COMMONWEALTH RUNS THE RISK OF GETTING SUED HERE, due to knowingly doing something which will likely cause crashes. Also, if a person's rights are not respected, the state will get sued. Not just state court, but federal too. In federal civil rights cases, the guilty party must also pay legal expenses when they lose, I think. If the state must pay for multiple defenses for various parties in various courts, and there are compensatory damages, punitive damages, and possibly ticket refunds, voided contracts, etc., this could go into the millions.

I think the state should prioritize here and look for job growth, such as a law to ban employers who refuse to hire unemployed people, especially if out of work for awhile. This proposed law seems to be a sham, which will likely cause crashes, cost the state a FORTUNE when they are sued, and seems to be exclusively for revenue. PLEASE DO NOT MOVE THIS FORWARD AND SCRAP THE CAMERAS WE HAVE RIGHT NOW. Ban future camera usage.

Other areas are REMOVING cameras, why would we put them in?

People are paying attention to this, so if for no other reason, for the sake of your own reelection, I ask for your help in stopping these bad bills.


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