August 11, 2005

Revenue generatin' cameras

Davenport's installation of surveillance cameras at several intersections and plans to install many more have been getting a lot of coverage lately.

The first cameras were installed under the premise of preventing people from running red lights. But it's a little more draconian than that. They are now ticketing anyone who doesn't come to a complete, dead stop, even before turning right on a red. This accounts for over 70% of the tickets issued, which are around $45 a pop.

This is ridiculous, and there is data from some pro-motorist groups that show that accidents actually increase at intersections where the red light cameras are installed, as the number of rear-end accidents go up when people suddenly stop on yellow lights or when turning right on red.

But perhaps most ridiculous is the fact that some Davenport alderman initially proposed the police issue $45 tickets to people for going as little as ONE MILE AN HOUR OVER THE SPEED LIMIT.

Thankfully, an alderman who had gotten a ticket for not stopping completely before making a right turn on red stepped in to provide some sanity.

The council approved an amendment from Ald. Bob McGivern, 6th Ward, to set a $5 fine for those going one to seven mph over the speed limit. A previous vote had set a $45 fine for those caught breaking the limit by one to 10 mph.

"Getting ticketed for one, two, three or four miles per hour over the speed limit isn't grounded in reality," Ald. McGivern said.

Ald. Ray Ambrose, 4th Ward, opposed the lower fine, saying he didn't want to "appease ... those who like to break the law."

Police Chief Mike Bladel said, in two other cities with the speed cameras, 85 percent of tickets were issued to drivers going 11 to 15 mph over the speed limit.
How can a person seriously argue that police should ticket people going 1 or 2 miles a mile over the limit or else we'd be "appeasing" lawbreakers?

Thankfully, Alderman McGivern had the good sense to step in to propose a sane policy, though I think eliminating a fine altogether for going 1 - 7 miles an hour over the limit would be more proper. I find it absolutely incredible that there were actually alderman who argued against the proposal and actually thought people should get $45 fines for going as little as a mile an hour over the limit. They represent what is so messed up with primarily right-wing, uptight, and puritanical politicians. If government were left up to them, and these days, it largely is, the country would turn into Afghanistan under the Taliban, with zero tolerance for any number of perceived misbehaviors.

And of course, underlying all of this folly is the simple desire for more and more income for the cops and the city. Davenport has issued more than 3,000 tickets using the cameras in the past year, generating thousands in revenue. And of course, once other cities see that their counterparts are raking in the dough, they'll be hustling to follow suit.

These cameras are nothing more than another revenue generating scheme with which the city hopes to cash in. It's reckless, intrusive, and likely will lead to more accidents as people watch their speedometers instead of the road, and come to sudden unexpected stops.

What do you think of the idea of replacing cops with cameras?

From stories in the Q.C. Times and from Q.C. Online.


At 8/11/2005 8:01 AM, Anonymous puzzler said...

Just think how great this will be for tourism in the Quad Cities. Visitors come for the weekend, drop hundreds of dollars for a hotel room, restaurant meals, tickets to the Figge, and a week later they get a ticket in the mail with an explanation that they owe Davenport $5 for going three miles over the speed limit on Brady Street. That would make me want to come back to the QC's!

At 8/11/2005 11:59 AM, Blogger diehard said...

Why dont we have a voice that will defend us from silly laws in Illinois? Like the seatbelt law?
A pure revenue enhanser if I ever saw one.
Do we have too many state troopers?
Maybe the Govenor and the legislature should take a pay cut.
I mean that was the whole reason Madigan came to town wasn't it?
To make sure that he would have people in the legislature that he could control.
If all these represenatives have to do is sit there and pull a lever, we could train a monkey to do that.

At 8/11/2005 5:01 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

As long as they keep the enforcement to only violaters going 12+ mph over the speed limit, I've got no problem with the whole thing.I've always read that the city assumes people will go up to 10 over when the set speed limits, so that should be allowed. Once you start going 50 in a 35 though, you deserve a ticket.

At 8/11/2005 7:12 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

The cameras don't take into account the flow of traffic. The beat cop does and uses his/her judgement before pulling someone over for speeding.

That's the flaw here. But it's really about the money. THey are looking for easy revenue - tickets for not stopping completely and turning on red etc -- those are the dead giveaway that this is just something to rake in the money.

At 8/11/2005 7:32 PM, Blogger LL Cool T said...

Two vehicles traveling down Brady Street.
Vehicle 1 gets caught by the camera and the owner of the vehicle pays a small fine.

Vehicle 2 gets caught by a real live officer, pays a fine and gets a moving violation on their driving record.

Two similarly situated drivers, assuming the driver of vehicle 1 is also the owner, two very different outcomes.

I think you have some Constitutional issues for due process against the owner of vehicle 1 and equal protection for the driver of vehicle 2.

If the city realy wants to reduce speeding they need to prosecute the speeding violation in court and with the same penalties, provide due process for the owners of vehicles to prove they were not driving and dish out the same punishment.

I agree this will be a speed trap for out of towners. The locals will fly along with the speed of traffic, get to the location of the speed camera, slow down and then go back with the flow.

This scenario will NOT reduce speeding because it will not affect your driving record. If you enact a law with some testicular virility and dish out the same punishments for all speeders, then camera enforcement can help solve a problem.

This is nothing more than a revenue enhancement technique and will cost the city more in lost tourism dollars than it will gain in revenue.

A good idea with a poorly thought out implementation. Cameras can assist police officers, but not replace them.

At 8/11/2005 7:32 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

They did claim that a cop reviews all of the right on red footage/pictures, and only sends out the ticket when its blatant enough that he would have stopped them had he seen it in person.

At 8/11/2005 8:13 PM, Blogger LL Cool T said...

Still is not counted as a moving violation and the driver may not be the owner who gets the ticket.

Is turning right on red without coming to a full and complete stop an out of control traffic hazard?

I am in favor of cameras for speeding and driving around railroad crossing gates, but a slow and go at an intersection fora right turn is all about the money and NOT about safety

At 8/11/2005 10:25 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

To LL... thanks for your comments. First, I was not aware that a ticket issued by camera evidence is not entered on your driving record. Are you sure? Or am I misundertanding you?

Secondly, of course, I realize that cameras will never replace cops.. it was just a figure of speech.

Thirdly, in one of your comments above you seem to suggest that motorists are unable to contest camera issued tickets in court just as they would any other traffic ticket. This is not the case. The tickets issued from camera surveilance will be able to be challenged in court just as any other citation.

But I'm with you and other commenters. It only seems common sense that A. Cameras for speeding should only issue tickets for speeding at least 10 mph over the limit, and B. The red light cameras were not intended for, nor should they be used for the "slow and go" right turn on red violations.

I should also point out that Bladel the police chief has said that, at least initially, cops won't bother issuing tickets for those going less than a few miles per hour over the limit, though he didn't rule it out in the future.

At 8/12/2005 6:48 AM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Testicular virility?

Is Rod Blagojevich blogging on these days??

At 8/12/2005 6:51 AM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

The tickets don't go on your driving record OR affect your insurance. So if you were a millionaire, you could rack up an unlimited number of red light or speed camera violations with no consquence, except maybe having actual DPD squad cars start to follow you around to catch you in person.

At 8/12/2005 9:00 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Ahh Images - but what happens to the millionaire if he fails to pay those hefty fines huh???

At 9/21/2006 3:01 AM, Anonymous Adam Cook (Davenport) said...

i've heard that if you dont pay you get a civil infraction against you and have to pay $15 in police service fee and $50 in court costs. And does not appear on driving record.

hey it could be worst. check this out! true story!!!

Blow This (4/3)
When Nick Lenthall drove past a group of police officers manning a speed check near Bournemouth, England, he honked his horn and gave them a thumbs up. The entire unit then got into a van, chased him down and gave him a ticket for "unnecessary use of audible warning equipment."

Fingered (3/8)
Simon Thompson was surprised when two British cops knocked on his door, and he says he was stunned when he found the reason for their visit. They gave him a ticket for flashing the finger at a traffic speed camera a half hour earlier. They said he made an offensive gesture, a violation of the Public Order Act. Thompson didn't get a ticket for speeding, however: He was driving under the limit.

She Thinks My Tractor's Speedy (2/22)
Welsh authorities tried to fine Steve Crossman for speeding... on his tractor. Crossman got a ticket generated by a speed camera claiming he'd been photographed doing 85 miles per hour. After he told them his tractor had a top speed of 26 miles per hour, and it would take him more than four hours to drive it from his farm to where he was allegedly speeding, camera operators admitted they had misread the license plate on the photograph and retracted the ticket.



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