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2/6/2010
Florida, Washington, France: Traffic Cameras Face Legal and Accuracy Problems
Florida camera goes haywire, Seattle camera found illegal, and French speed camera tickets motorists who were not speeding.

ATS speed camera
Photo enforcement machines around the world this week were found to be ticketing drivers who had malfunctioned, ticketed motorists who had done nothing wrong, or the machines themselves were found to be in violation of the law.

In Collier County, Florida on Friday, the private vendor American Traffic Solutions was working to install more red light cameras even though at least some of the already-installed devices had gone out-of-control, flashing nearly every passing motorist. The Marco Eagle reported that the cameras at the intersection of Immokalee and Airport-Pulling Roads, in addition to Immokalee and Livingston Roads, began malfunctioning early in the week.

"American Traffic Solutions is aware of the issues with the two cameras in Collier County," ATS spokesman Ellen Pence told the Eagle. "We are taking this issue very seriously. Our local technicians have been on site, and we realize that a few of our signal detectors need to be readjusted to return to normal functioning. We are working to accomplish that as quickly as possible, and hopefully the issue will be fixed no later than mid-day tomorrow."

No citations were issued as a result of the faulty sensors in this particular case, but automated tickets issued in Florida rest on shaky legal ground. A number of class action lawsuits are fighting red light camera programs on the ground that the state attorney general, the state department of transportation, and even red light camera vendor Redflex Traffic Systems agree that photo enforcement is illegal in Florida ( view Redflex statement, page 6, 1.8mb PDF).

In Seattle, Washington, Judge Francis deVilla ruled on Monday that a red light camera citation issued at the intersection of 45th Street at Union Bay Place was illegal, KING-TV reported. Under state law, such cameras are only allowed at four-way intersections, but the location in question was a five-way intersection. Afraid of refunding the 9000 tickets worth $1.1 million, the city is ignoring deVilla's ruling, as well as a prior ruling by Judge Adam Eisenberg that found the ticketing location in violation of state law.

A French camera falsely accused motorists of speeding in Rouillac on the road to St. Jean d'Angely on January 14. Although the speed limit at the location was 70 km/h (44 MPH) the camera was set to ticket vehicles traveling at 50 km/h (31 MPH), Charente Libre reported. Under French law, any motorist wishing to challenge an automated citation had to pay it first. A large number of outraged motorists began complaining until the Mayor of Rouillac, Michel Trainaud, was forced last week to refund every ticket issued on that day.



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