In an online discussion group recently, one guy commented about needing to keep an eye on his speedometer because they had installed a lot more speeding cameras lately. He is in the UK, but I thought that was interesting that they were giving speeding tickets automatically in other countries. Here we have red light cameras that send a ticket if you run a red light, but I didn’t think there had been any speeding cameras installed yet. So I looked into it and it turns out that Arizona has been installing them lately. People really don’t like these cameras and I found news stories about how people had sprayed silly string over the camera lens or stuck post-it notes on them to block their view. In Arizona, only 38% of the people who get tickets actually pay them. Instead a lot of people are protesting the tickets so, their court system is now clogged. They are booked through 2011 if you want to protest. Meanwhile you don’t have to pay the ticket, so why wouldn’t you protest? It’s like 0% financing. An article in the LA Times says one guy has been caught 40 times in Arizona, most of the time wearing a mask. He plans on saying there is no way they can prove it is him driving the car. So far he has had 4 cases dismissed and had to pay on 7 others.
In the United Kingdom, the cameras have been in place for years, but they have tripled the number of cameras in six years according to this article. It says they are generating 100 million pounds in fines per year. As a result, a number of websites and databases have sprung up locating where the cameras are installed. This can then be put into a GPS navigation system which can warn you that one is coming up.
I was talking about red light cameras with some people at work and we figured that the cameras probably result in a lot more rear-end collisions since people will slam on their brakes when the light turns yellow. Sure enough, a Wikipedia article says a Virginia study showed that right-angle collisions dropped, but rear-end collisions increased, with overall accidents and accidents with injuries both increasing at intersections with red light cameras.
Undeterred, California is proposing to install speeding enforcement at intersections that already have red light cameras. Even if you go through a green light, if you are moving too fast, you would be photographed and sent a ticket. It’s a pretty good idea because the equipment is all in place except maybe for the radar gun.