Wednesday, May 20, 2009

GA Traffic Cameras on the Way Out

Georgia Red Light Cameras In The Red? « GeorgiaTrafficLawyer’s Weblog

I saw a report last month about a state legislator going up against some his colleagues in the legislature about those traffic light cams. It seems that several years ago these cams were all the rage, with claims from our gov't that the cams were going to "make everyone safer" & would "make safety a #1 priority."

Bull. These cams were about one thing: $$$$$$$$$$. And lots of it.

Now these cams are bringing in the dough like they once were & municipalities are doing away with them.

In Dalton, for example, the cams in 2008 brought in $344,126 in revenue from fines & ran up costs of $283,574. The biggest cost? Man hours to review the film. But there are also rental & maintenance costs.

However, January 2009 brought $24,500 in revenue and rang up $23,834 in expenses. In February, the city took in $11,760 in fines from tickets issued for violations caught by the cameras and had expenses of $23,475.

What happened for the drop in revenue? The state of GA mandated a simple change: add a single second to all yellow lights. That's all. A single, solitary second.

Now all those rented red light cams are not bringing in the revenue. So cities are doing away with the cams.

My questions are: 1) If it was all about "public safety" why aren't the cities keeping the cams? 2) Since they are doing away with the cams, it looks like they were more about a revenue producer than a concern for public safety; & 3) If it only took a single second on the amber lights to fix most of the problem, something that was brought up as an alternative before all these cams were put in place, why didn't local gov't try that before going straight to the cams?

It sure does look like the cams were being sold to the public as a "we're here to help" when in reality it was "we're here to extract more cash from you."

More important is the privacy quesiton: what does the gov't do with all that info that it collected on all of us, without our consent? What will they use it for? When will it be destroyed? What guarantees does the public have that the info on where citizens will not be used in some way? Serious privacy questions.

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