Mirror Publisher Michael Rosenthal doesn’t like red-light cameras and gives several good reasons for his opposition. (Publisher’s Notebook, April 19-25, 2007. ) Thank you Mr. Rosenthal!
Here are a few more good reasons:
Contrary to popular mythology, many studies show that red light cameras actually increase accidents. See autoblog.com /2006/04/05/maryland-countys-red-light-cameras-net-2-85-million-increase/. See also thenewspaper.com/news/04/430.asp. These articles note the real reason for red light cameras – they increase revenue for governments and the private companies that sell the camera devices to them. In essence, they are the good old small-town “speed trap” writ large.
Because of the income aspects, red light cameras also turn cities and the judges handling cases into interested parties. How do you get a fair hearing when the judge is directly or indirectly aware that the money is paying his or her salary and/or paying for needed items in his or her town?
In addition, there are also at least three significant legal and Constitutional problems with traffic cameras mounted at intersections. First, unlike the traffic officer who stops an alleged violator and issues a ticket which constitutes a summons to appear in court, when the ticket is by camera, the alleged violator supposedly gets the ticket by mail. But we all know that mail is often not delivered or that it may be intercepted by a roommate, eaten by the dog, not forwarded to a new address or otherwise not delivered. Not receiving a ticket is fundamentally unfair and there is no guarantee of delivery with a camera-based ticket.
Second, with a traffic officer, the alleged violator is stopped on the spot and has an opportunity to recollect the circumstances of the ticket and defend himself or herself. With a camera, the alleged violator receives the ticket many days or even weeks later. In the interim, the alleged violator probably does not know that a ticket is in process and may forget the circumstances if he or she was ever aware of them. In fact, the alleged violator may go through the intersection in question many times or even daily. It is fundamentally unfair to ask someone to defend himself or herself without the opportunity to recollect the circumstances, gather witnesses if required and mount a defense.
Third, cameras mounted at intersections are another incremental invasion of our privacy today, and more importantly, could potentially be used for further invasions of our privacy and our precious Constitutional freedoms in the future. We are already seeing jurisdictions extend camera monitoring to include tickets for speeding using two cameras and measuring the elapsed time a car takes to pass between the two. If I were a dictator interested in taking over this country, one of the things that would most facilitate my efforts to restrain and control the populace would be an installed base of cameras and the legal precedents to retain them.
Cameras not only increase accident rates, but they also violate privacy rights, endanger the public welfare in the long term and are fundamentally unfair to the public. The money should be used for human officers who can not only monitor traffic, but perform other necessary police functions.
Income from officer-issued tickets should more than cover the expense of the additional officers.
Very truly yours,
Michael S. Klein, Esq.
West Los Angeles
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In response to the letter from Ms. Sulton, suppose we exchange our SMCC main campus for the 17th & Montana project you fear. Yes, the traffic impact and parking proposal for the project is unrealistic – as is that at our college. What is also unrealistic is why your neighborhood should be any more shielded from these concerns than our own. Students of JAMS, Grant and Will Rogers, patrons of our own local libraries, and all our residents want to enjoy this lovely Westside. Let’s share the necessary urban infilling equally.
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It was very special to read about Jerry Mathers. He brought so much happiness to me while I was in childhood “Hell” with my dad. I just wish I could find his autobiography.
Have a “groovy” day.