Red Light Cameras: Phase II

This is 100 percent One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest crazy. But true. It has to be true: My brain is not sophisticated enough to create something so meta and surreal from scratch.

WTOP’s Ari Ashe is reporting that Prince George’s County [Maryland] is mounting cameras to monitor its traffic cameras. This comes following a half dozen incidents of vandalism and general meanness toward the cameras in the county.

A camera was actually shot with a gun. Another was set on fire. Those attacks mark a step up in looniness from a man who allegedly fired glass marbles at a Howard County traffic camera earlier this summer.

One camera monitoring a camera is already up. Ashe reports a dozen more are planned.

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Life lessons in recursion: cameras to watch the cameras watching the red light cameras.

When we first wrote about Kansas City’s burgeoning red light camera program, we believed the program ineffective and nearly unenforceable. 1 Moreover we thought that the city itself would come to agree with that stance and shut the program down as other municipalities had done.

But we underestimated the powerful lure of a surveillance society. 2 Not to mention the resultant waterfall of cash.

The Ashe article notes replacing a red light camera runs $30,000 to $100,000. Which gives one pause: how much does KC spend on traffic cameras vs the revenue they generate? Let’s guesstimate:

In Maryland, where speed cameras are also used, the state generated $16 million in three months. But, you know, drivers are slowing down… 3  Also? Maryland is going into stealth mode, disguising their cameras. This new entrapment system is estimated to bring in another $12 million.

In Philly drivers have paid $45.3 million in fines since 2005, with $24.2 million going to pay for operating the program. That’s a net profit of $21.1 million.

A fact sheet published by Kansas City in October of 2009 estimated that the red light cameras had only accrued $1.4 millions after 3 months. The vendor was collecting $4,500. per camera per month. At 20 cameras simple math shows the vendor gained $135K, leaving the city with a net profit of $1.2 mil and change. One assumes those figures have risen.

All of which is sweet nectar to the bureaucratic bee.

To the average citizen it reeks of the stink of taxation without representation.

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Show 3 footnotes

  1. One can still have the ticket voided in court as there is no way to prove who was driving the car. The KC city council is side-stepping their way to “fixing” that loophole by going after company vehicles. As councilman Sharp notes: “Right now, theres really no penalty that can be effectively assessed. Its an extremely dangerous situation.” Councilman Sharp’s estimation of  extremely dangerous situations aside (His definition is somewhat different than ours; we, for example, consider councilman Sharp’s lack of reasoning skills to be extremely dangerous.), if the council moves ahead with this it will fail in the courts: the burden of proof moves from the government to the individual and or company and even SCOTUS has yet to force one to disprove a negative.
  2. More on that anon.
  3. Uh huh. So in the next three months there will be no revenue generated, right?

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