Everyone hates getting speeding tickets, but they hate red light speeding tickets even more. Texas and Ohio hate them so much that they voted against them in local elections last week.
Three cities Tuesday — two in Ohio, one in Texas — voted to rip the things down. In College Station, Tex., the camera manufacturer and their subcontractors reportedly spent $60,000 campaigning to keep them in place, more than five times the amount raised by the opposition, and lost anyway. Voters in Chillicothe, Ohio, went against the cameras at a rate of 72 percent. In Heath, Ohio, the mayor got caught removing anti-camera campaign signs from an intersection. He, and the cameras, got sent packing.
Nationwide, there have been something like 11 elections on automated enforcement. Your vote total: Revolting Peasants 11, Machines 0.
Yet cities continue to install the machines, mainly because they are such great revenue generators. It takes a rejection on a ballot for city officials to get the clue that people don’t want these machines in their town.
And why do people hate them so much? You can’t argue with a machine.
Ash, the College Station activist, started his campaign because he said they were a violation of due process, that there was no appeal beyond a municipal hearing. Red-light or speed cameras or both are banned in all or part of 14 states. The Republican governor of Mississippi kicked them out of the Magnolia State earlier this year. The Democratic governor of Montana did the same in July. Sulphur, La., put the issue to a vote in April — and 86 percent of the populace voted to get rid of them.
In 2005, then-Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R) vetoed the Maryland bill that eventually authorized cameras in Montgomery County, because, he said, it was a blatant “revenue-raising measure” that designated four- and six-lane highways to be “residential neighborhoods” and allowed a jurisdiction to “charge, try and convict an individual solely through the use of a photograph.”
His veto was overridden. With a conviction rate of 99.7%, it’s no wonder municipalities want red light cameras.
There isn’t all good news for the cameras. Arizona is fighting it vigorously. People simply hate these machines and will do whatever it takes to get rid of them.
…And, not funny at all, a technician was servicing a speed camera on Loop 101 in Phoenix back in April. An irate motorist shot him to death.
Overseas, people in Finland have destroyed them with explosives. Vandals in Britain attack them at the rate of 100 a year.
While traffic accidents have decreased, the numbers have fallen across the board, not just places with traffic cameras. There is considerable conflicting data on whether or not the camera help prevent or cause accidents, but it is clear that the citizens do not want them. Given the fact that the yellow lights are purposefully shortened to generate more money, is it any wonder?