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9/7/2009Group Lists Worst Labor Day Speed Traps
National Motorists Association names the seven worst locations to be a caught driving on Labor Day.
The National Motorists Association (NMA) released its list of the top seven locations to avoid over the Labor Day holiday. This year, the drivers' rights group highlighted areas where heightened use of automated ticketing machines threaten those who are just passing through.
- Chicago, Illinois
The Windy City's network of red light cameras operated by a for-profit Australian company, combined with short yellow warning times at intersections, has already generated $110 million worth of tickets. The city plans to double the installations and push the total impact of all taxes and fines on motorists to $567 million by the end of 2009. Chicago also earned a dishonorable mention for its parking meter privatization plan by which Mayor Richard M. Daley (D) covered up this year's budget deficit. For the next 75 years, drivers will pay for this year's budget balancing with quadrupled parking prices that will increase annually.
- Chillicothe and Heath, Ohio
These two small towns earned the wrath of the motorists from collecting big cash from visitors. In less than a month, Australia's Redflex issued 10,000 tickets in Heath, which has just 8800 residents. The number has since been reduced as a number of illegally issued tickets have been refunded. Chillicothe earned a rebuke for starting a camera program without bothering first to establish an ticket appeals process. Officials in both cities are facing a voter revolt November ballot initiatives set to determine the fate of photo radar.
- Los Angeles, California
The NMA accused Los Angeles of being one of the first cities caught using "bait and switch" marketing to claim that red light cameras would stop straight-through red light running, even though eighty percent of tickets had nothing to do with this type of violation. Instead, the vast majority of tickets are issued to drivers who slowed to make a right turn on red, a maneuver which statistics show almost never causes accidents.
- Duncanville, Texas
In this North-Central Texas city, a mere five percent of violations went to vehicles owners accused of straight-through violations. When a city councilman attempted to make this fact known during a public meeting, the mayor had him arrested and dragged out by force, with the incident documented on video.
- Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona
State lawmakers desperate to raise money to solve an out-of-control deficit turned to photo radar to fill a $165 million gap. Dozens of fully automated Australian mobile speed camera vans, in addition to fixed camera units, were added to the freeways in addition to existing cameras on city streets. This weekend, however, the state reacted to the NMA warning and cut speed van deployments to a handful, according to the group CameraFraud.com.
- Washington, DC
The nation's capital, with its ticket camera-equipped street sweepers, 49 red light cameras and dozens of speed cameras has been looking to boost revenue to new heights. Since 1999, the District's private ticketing contractors have issued 4,019,023 tickets worth $305 million.
- Entire State of Florida
The NMA referred to Florida as a "disaster" for jumping into an unrestrained use of speed cameras and red light cameras even though, as even Redflex admits, the best legal opinion suggests that photo ticketing is illegal absent the explicit approval of the state legislature. Cities facing tight budgets have defied an attorney general opinion (view ruling) stating this fact. The NMA's Speed Trap Directory website also lists over 25,000 conventional speed traps operating in the state.