Monday, August 25, 2014
California: Red Light Camera Companies Ignore Reporting Law
Red light camera companies have been ignoring new reporting requirements set by California law, and the judiciary has overlooked the ongoing violation. In 2012, the state legislature adopted a measure that was supposed to "make sure that drivers' rights are protected." Among other things, it required camera vendors to file an annual report with the state Judicial Council listing the number of violations captured; the number of citations issued with a breakdown of how many were right-hand turns; the percentage of tickets tossed out by the court; and the number of collisions before and after camera installation. The Highwayrobbery.net website last month asked the Judicial Council for a copy of all of the reports that should have been filed. The council could provide no documents. "At this time, no reports required by Vehicle Code section 21455.5(i) have been submitted to the Judicial Council," a spokesman for the judiciary said on July 21. Word of the Highwayrobbery.net request spread, and Redflex Traffic Systems, with its former executives under indictment for corruption, decided belatedly to send in reports on August 12. The Australian firm runs more of the camera programs in the Golden State than any of its competitors, including American Traffic Solutions, which has not complied with the statute. "We have not yet received reports from other suppliers," a spokesman for the Judicial Council explained. "Hopefully, additional reports will be available in the near future." The report Redflex supplied showed that the Australian firm issued 269,324 tickets in 38 cities worth $126 million last year. Thirty-eight percent of the total, or $48 million, came from right-hand turns. Data from federal agencies (view report) and the city of Los Angeles (view report) show rolling right hand turns rarely cause accidents. Some cities earn almost all their revenue by allowing Redflex to issue right turn tickets. Elk Grove, Newark and San Leandro are at the top of the chart, with over 90 percent of profit coming from rolling rights. A total of fourteen cities earned more than half their revenue from boulevard stops. Only Santa Clarita, Los Alamitos and Del Mar obtained less than 10 percent of revenue from right turn tickets. An analysis of Redflex-issued citations in California is available in a 60k PDF file at the source link below.
Source: Redflex-issued citations in California (TheNewspaper, 8/25/2014)
Sunday, August 24, 2014
France, Italy: Speed Cameras Spraypainted, Knocked Over
Vigilantes in Guewenheim, France disabled a speed camera on Saturday last week. L'Alsace reported that the automated ticketing machine on the RD 466 was completely covered in orange spraypaint. In Aveyron, Midi Libre reported that the speed camera on the RD992 was disabled for the sixth time by being spraypainted gray on Wednesday. Green was the paint color of choice in Pouru-Saint-Remy where the camera on the D8043 was disabled on Monday, according to L'Union-L'Ardennais. In Mogliano, Italy, a speed camera was knocked over at around 4:30am last week Sunday. According to Treviso Today, police accused a thirty-year old man of ramming the automated ticketing machine on Via Marconi.
Friday, August 22, 2014
Sierra Vista, Arizona To Vote On Banning Traffic Cameras
The city council in Sierra Vista, Arizona voted last week to put an initiative measure on the ballot that would, if adopted, kick out the vendor currently at the center of a $2 million bribery scandal in Chicago, Illinois. Karen Finley, the former head of US operations for Redflex Traffic Systems, was indicted for corruption just hours before the council made its decision. Robert Montgomery spent three months collecting the signatures needed to force the council, which is in full support of automated ticketing machines, to let voters decide whether the machines ought to be kept. Montgomery decided to get involved after being incensed by a pro-camera article in the local newspaper. He complained about it to people he met. "It turns out I wasn't the only guy mad about the cameras," Montgomery told TheNewspaper. "It was the same reaction everywhere." At meetings Montgomery attended, he brought up the issue and polled attendees whether he ought to do something, and the response was overwhelming. He filed the paperwork and began circulating the petition with the goal of collecting 2493 valid signatures. "What I learned on the first day was that I did not have to give a speech to convince anybody to sign the petition," Montgomery explained. "People ran over to me and stood in line to sign. After about an hour I learned to shut up and let them do the talking, and boy did I hear stories." Volunteers joined in the circulation effort, including city council candidates Craig Mount and Tony Wenc pulling in 3448 signatures by last month. That was a thousand more than needed to put Proposition 408 on the ballot. "The use of any camera or video camera device, whether fixed on a roadway, state highway in city limits, intersections or positioned in a mobile vehicle, shall be prohibited for use for the purpose of issuing any type of motorist moving violation that carries any type of monetary fine or penalty as listed in any Sierra Vista code of ordinances or Arizona Revised Statute," the initiative states. Photo ticketing companies often fight hard to block such votes, going so far as to sue their former municipal customers. Houston, Texas residents had to pay $4.8 million to settle such a suit. The contract between the Sierra Vista and Redflex, personally signed by Karen Finley during the period the Department of Justice accuses her of being involved in a conspiracy, specifically says the agreement can be canceled if a "citizen's initiative" bans the use of cameras, eliminating the worry of legal wrangling. Arizona was home to the very first referendum to outlaw the use of cameras. In 1991, 70 percent of voters in Peoria moved to prohibit the use of photo radar.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Study Reveals Reason For Conflicting Red Light Camera Studies
Red light camera studies are frequently described as coming to "mixed" conclusions with some claiming accident reductions while others show an increase in accidents at photo enforced intersections. Rather than assume that all studies are created equal, a new peer-reviewed journal article finds a reason for the difference in outcomes in the research literature. Published last month in the journal of Evaluation and the Health Professions, the review by University of South Flordia researchers Barbara Langland-Orban, Etienne E. Pracht and John T. Large joined Cincinnati Children's Medical Hospital Center's Nanhua Zhang and the University of Florida's Joseph T. Tepas sorted the conflicting studies to determine what made one stand out from another. The researchers developed four criteria by which the studies could be judged as having a superior methodology. First, the photo enforced sites in the evaluation should not include non-photo enforced approaches as part of the "treated" sites. Second, the study must not show "selection bias" in the choice of camera-free intersections used as a control for the evaluation. If a camera intersection has a high rate of accidents, the control intersection must have a similarly high rate. Third, all relevant independent variables must be tracked, including signal timing, lane geometry, traffic volume and time trends. Fourth, all statistical data must be fully reported. The studies with the most complete set of variables concluded that accidents increased with the use of red light cameras, while the reports that claimed an accident reduction benefit to camera use relied on more simplistic analyses that excluded factors such as yellow signal timing, the number of lanes at an intersection and time trends. "The paucity of sound red light camera program evaluations may be due to insufficient data as the cost of collecting the substantial data needed may be prohibitive for some communities and data collection must be planned in advance of the red light camera intervention," the researchers surmised. The researchers also found evidence that some studies, such as the 2003 study in Ontario, Canada conducted by Synectics Transportation Consultants, appeared deliberately to skew results in favor of camera use. "The Synectics Transportation Consultants study had data for both before and after time periods, but their statistical analysis merged the red light camera findings with the outcomes from the comparison sites and sites that were treated with a different intervention (stepped-up police enforcement)," the researchers wrote. "Thus, they had the data to conduct a quasi-experimental research study but opted to use a nonexperimental design... Since the comparison sites and stepped-up police enforcement sites had better injury/fatal crash outcomes than the red light camera sites, the study's statistical design obfuscated the actual results at red light camera sites."
Source: Explaining Differences in Crash and Injury Crash Outcomes (Evaluation and the Health Professions, 7/9/2014)
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Two Ohio Cities To Vote On Traffic Camera Bans
Red light cameras and speed cameras have been put to a vote at the ballot box in eight Ohio towns, more than anywhere else in the nation. Residents of Cleveland and Maple Heights on Monday submitted petitions that to raise that figure to ten. In Cleveland, volunteers spent four years circulating petitions to gather 12,930 signatures. If the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections certifies at least 6013 as valid, the city council will have to put the measure either on the November 4 ballot or call a special election in February. September 5 is the deadline to have a measure ready for the fall election. Proponents of the measure say the public is enthusiastic about the camera ban. "It's probably the easiest petition that I've ever circulated to get people to sign," Jason Sonenshein with the group Liberate Ohio told TheNewspaper. "People are very eager to sign this. It's an issue that voters generally feel passionate about. Everyone who drives through Cleveland sees one or more of these cameras on a daily basis." If the petition is certified for the ballot, voters will be asked to approve a charter amendment that borrows language that has successfully been used in several other cities to block the use of automated ticketing machines. "The city, including its various boards, agencies and departments, shall not use any traffic law photo-monitoring device for the enforcement of a qualified traffic law violation, unless a law enforcement officer is present at the location of the device and personally issues the ticket to the alleged violator at the time and location of the violation," the proposal states. In Maple Heights, a bipartisan group of activists filed over 1200 signatures to place a photo ticketing ban on the ballot. It will go on the ballot if elections officials certify 694 of them as valid. Already, city officials have taken steps to keep the measure from reaching voters. Christopher Finney, attorney for the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST), says he will sue the city if it tries to block the people from having a voice on the traffic camera issue. Finney's group promises to go "city by city" to take down the cameras if it has to. This is no idle threat, considering voters in Ashtabula, Cincinnati, Chillicothe, Heath, Garfield Heights, South Euclid and Steubenville have banned speed cameras and red light cameras.