Room with a view: San Francisco
Rainy days on the East Coast... and a bit of a US Airways rant

Photo Radar Cameras... duh, what am I missing...

Photo radarPhoenix recently introduced Photo Radar Cameras on a number of the major highways around the city: stationary camera setups photograph vehicles, and their drivers, that exceed the posted speed limit by more than 11MPH. Various organizations and some legislators immediately took up the gauntlet opposing the use of the cameras... a cause celebre. I guess I don't fully understand what is going on because the use of these devices strikes me as a good thing.. even in considering the "negatives" being pushed.

Here is my opinion:

Radar war 1.   Photo radar slows down traffic on very busy, often over- congested, highways. This in turn cuts down on accidents and saves lives. Truth be known, if you drive a lot in Phoenix (I commute daily and make many trips from north Phoenix to the airport south of town), you would be a HUGE advocate of anything that slows down the crazies on our roads. Why is this a bad thing?

2. Those opposing say that it is just a scheme to bring money into the government's severely depleted coffers at the expense of drivers. I'm sorry, but where is it wrong that if you exceed the speed limit... a violation of the law... you have to pay a fine? I think this is a GOOD thing: why not help balance the budget by fining those who break the law? You don't like the speed limits? Go through the government processes to get them changed, but until then, the last time I checked posted speed limits are the law and those breaking the law should expect to be penalized if caught.

3. Some complain that the "flashes" from the camera lighting will cause accidents. I have driven by the photo radar sites late at night, seen the flash from the camera and somehow managed to survive... truth be known, it had no effect on my driving!

4.   Another complaint: the photo cameras force people to slow down and that creates more hazards on the roads because of slower moving traffic. Nah, I don't think so: my experience with the photo radar locations is that EVERYONE slows down, thus no hazard. Not to mention that the idiot zipping in and out of traffic at considerably over the speed limit is a much bigger hazard.

5. How about "drivers will realize they are at a photo radar camera, slam on their brakes to slow down and cause other drivers to back-end them." That is just ludicrous. I have not heard about or seen a report of a single incident justifying this contention. Come on: there are even signs 1/2 mile and 300 yd before the photo radar locations warning drivers they are coming up on a photo shoot. Anyone driving that fast needs to be off the roads anyway.

6. Some argue that it depersonalizes law enforcement. OK, maybe it does... so what? Break the law, pay the fine. 'Strikes me as just a more efficient way to catch speeders.

7. And then there are those that claim Invasion of Privacy. Ridiculous: you have no expectation of privacy when driving on a public thoroughfare and certainly none when breaking the law in public.  

8. The hardware makes mistakes. So? The same can be said for the Law Enforcement guy sitting in his car holding a radar gun. This is the ONLY argument that would give cause to question Photo Radar Cameras, but I have not seen anything documenting any pattern of inaccuracies. Besides, if you think you have been wronged, you can still have your Day In Court, just as if a cop had stopped you.   

Conclusion: this strikes me as Win-Win situation: decrease accidents while helping our budget by fining law breakers. It is a good thing... even if I get tagged by one of the cameras! 


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No One have no opinion on the fact that they are recording 24/7 and archiving data on completely innocent motorists and passersby? And you're OK with the fact that there is no legal basis for them to do this and there is no indication of what this information can be used for (by this 3rd party non-governmental foreign-based corporation? I ask you this-- sure I have no reasonable expectation of privacy, that's a given. But why is my personal data being collected and retained if I have done nothing wrong? Even neglecting any privacy issues, there's still the small issue of probable cause, and the fact that it is now effectively suspended! Last time I checked, that law is still on the books.

Next I think it is interesting that you specifically state that at least in part (a large part in my opinion) this is about the money. Do you not see a conflict of interest when you turn law enforcement and public safety officials into tax men?

And you're ok with "making the lawbreakers pay," in order to balance the budget? I've noted this previously over on, but people who espouse this opinion make me sick. What this opinion amounts to is this: nobody likes taxes, but the government is in a shortfall. If they cannot cut the budget enough, taxes need to go up. It's a simple formula. People love to complain, but the money must come from somewhere, and we all benefit from it.

So when I hear someone say "let the lawbreakers pay" it verymuch implies that that person does not want to pay their fair share, and is willing to forcibly place their share on someone else. It says that they are comfortable with the thought of using our law enforcement, courts and justice system to strongarm others into paying instead of owning up.

Bill Terry

Mr. No one, re your comments:

Opinion on recording 24/7?

From my original post:

"Break the law, pay the fine. 'Strikes me as just a more efficient way to catch speeders."
You need to clean up your research:

1. There is plenty of legal precedence.
2. There are restrictions on the use of data collected.
3. There is no evidence of collecting personal data unless you break the law (exceed speed limit by 11MPH). If there was evidence of misuse, I would strongly oppose deployment (please note my 1/24, 3:45pm, 3rd paragraph comment).
4. What, exactly, is the personal data you think those cameras are capturing? Your license plate, where you are at a given time and how fast you are traveling? The most important "personal information" is already on record (your license plate number). Think about it for a second: what would the Evil Empire do with data of where you are when?
5. You misunderstand the legal definition of "probable cause." It does not apply.
You misconstrue "balancing the budget" comments. I have no problem with fines collected from violating the law going into government coffers. The point is that if the fines are collected, they should be put to good use. Sure, we need to clean up government spending and may need to raise taxes (although it is far more complex than your "simple formula"). None of these are an end-all solution. To think otherwise is childish and simplistic.

Your interpretation of the implication of "let the lawbreakers pay" is pathetic, arrogant and wrong. It is false to say that it implies an abrogation of responsibility or an unwillingness to pay one's fair share. How you made that absurd leap is baffling.

Your last sentence is absurd.


It's pathetic Bill, you're like all of the other camera supporters. You claim that cameras are safer but you never post any sources or studies to back up your arguments. I don't claim to be an expert, I just know what I read and see from the credible sources I have posted. You have yet to address any of these specifically to say why my sources are not valid. I'd like to know why you think Seriff Babeu in Pinal County is wrong about his stats of fatalities doubling where the cameras are installed. I'd like to know why you think the data at is invalid or that the NHTSA vehicle crash causation survey is flawed.

So where are you sources? What makes you such an expert that we should just take your arugments at face value?

No One

On the page from which you linked to this post, there is an article which specifically states the cameras are on 24/7 and have a live feed archived for a minimum of 90 days. Translated, this means they are recording every person whether breaking the law or not. It is also known that they have facial recognition software, capable of determining your identity, and that some areas are actively seeking "suspected felons" which means they must have some access to government databases.

This is a lot of information to be captured on every last inndividual, simply in order to catch a speeder or two. And if there are restrictions on its use, I have yet to see them- care to cite a source?

And I am sorry if you believe my argument on taxes is childish and simplistic, but I believe it, and I can't see how it is anything BUT that. There is a burden, which is traditionally shared by all. It needs to be increased. You say "let them carry the increase"-- how is that not pushing your load off on someone else? Please explain that one.

I also believe that the moment we turn breaking the law into a moneymaking proposition which is required for our budget to be balanced and is spoken for ahead of time, you are opening the door to problems. What if everyone stopped speeding, or if the revenue expected doesn't come in-- then what? The budget deficit isn't going away. I am not against fining lawbreakers to offset the considerable overhead of maintaining a police force and the costs of the justice system-- but as soon as it becomes a moneymaker, to the point that the money is allocated to other areas of the government, and (more importantly) counted before it even comes in, this is at absolute best a conflict of interest.

No One

Oh, and as to #5, probable cause- we agree it does not apply-- but my question is why not? Why should the method of enforcement alone negatively impact my rights as a citizen? I don't believe it should!

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