Article from: www.thenewspaper.com/news/30/3079.asp
3/15/2010Partnership for Advancing Road Safety Is New Photo Enforcement Industry Front Group
Red light camera and speed camera companies hire public relations firm for automated ticketing advocacy.
The photo enforcement industry announced on Friday the creation of a new red light camera and speed camera advocacy group. The Partnership for Advancing Road Safety (PARS) describes itself as an organization that seeks to use best practices to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities on American highways. The group's number one priority is countering the growing nationwide backlash against the use of automated ticketing machines that has resulted in multi-million dollar loses for camera vendors.
"While a vocal minority may oppose road safety cameras, our research indicates just the opposite -- 80 percent of the public support intersection safety cameras and 67 percent support speed safety cameras," said PARS Executive Director David Kelly. "Automated road safety cameras share one thing in common with other proven safety countermeasures -- they save lives. And that's the message PARS intends to communicate to everyone we can reach."
Kelly provides a respectable face for the group as the former chief of staff for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a former senior staffer at Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The group itself, however, is the creation of the public relations firm APCO Worldwide. The website was registered by APCO. The PARS contact on the group's press release, Jeffery A. Smith, listed a "email@example.com" email address, but the phone number given rings the offices at APCO.
The "founding members" that hired APCO for this public relations project include Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions, UK-based Lasercraft and Redspeed, Germany-based Traffipax and Australia-based Redflex. The overseas companies use front groups to evade laws prohibiting direct foreign influence in the US electoral process. Redflex, for example, specifically cited an "APCO nationwide poll" in a press release issued earlier this month, making no mention of its connection to the firm.
"In a recent nationwide opinion poll, voters showed 80 percent support of the red light cameras as a safety tool," the Redflex news release stated.
Despite the bold claim, neither red light cameras nor speed cameras have ever survived a public vote. In nine out of nine municipal referenda on the issue, automated ticketing lost with as much as 86 percent of the public voting against cameras.