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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

December 31, 2014 at 6:06 AM

Some cities sour on traffic cameras

The last six weeks have been tough on traffic camera programs across the country. Whether it’s the 469 communities with red-light camera programs, or the 137 that use speeding cameras, backlash from disgruntled motorists and inconsistent impacts on safety have caused many politicians to abandon their use.

Here are some notable examples:

  • Nov. 17 – Auburn City Council vote to let its red-light camera contract expire.
  • Nov. 20 – Texas Rep. Steve Stockman introduced legislation that would prohibit the District of Columbia from using traffic cameras. From 2011-2013, D.C.’s automated cameras generated $240 million, according to a D.C. municipal report.
  • Dec. 2 – The Missouri Supreme Court began hearing arguments in three separate cases seeking to outlaw traffic cameras in the state. Earlier in the year, state lawmakers tried to create a legal framework for the cameras, but the measure failed to pass during the legislative session.
  • Dec. 8 – Suffolk County, N.Y., officials preemptively terminated their school-zone speed cameras after a yearlong analysis projected that the cameras would be too expensive and complicated.
  • Dec. 15 – Nassau County, N.Y.,  ended its speed camera program after the issuance of more than 400,000 tickets in less than two months.
  • Dec. 18 – A divided Ohio Supreme Court upheld a second challenge to municipal traffic cameras.
  • Dec. 19 – Gov. John Kasich signed a bill requiring a police officer to be posted by every camera, removing their staffing and cost benefit.
  • Dec. 19 – A study commissioned by The Chicago Tribune found that Chicago’s 350 red-light cameras, which garnered more than $500 million since 2002, did not deliver on its safety promises and was responsible for some crash increases that caused injuries.
  • Dec. 22 – A Chicago mayoral candidate called for the city’s program to be scrapped.
  • Dec. 31 – New Jersey’s unpopular five-year pilot program lapses out of existence, after Gov. Chris Christie chose not to intervene.

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