TeeJaw Blog

Prosecution Advances in Red-Light Camera Fraud Scandal

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Monday, May 3, 2010, 10: 48 PM

Is this a careless driver running a red light or was this crash caused by a too-short yellow light cycle? I recently posted about the increasing presence of red-light cameras at intersections throughout America. In Red-Light Cameras a Good Idea? I ask whether these devices are safety related or just for plundering citizens for revenue, and concluded the latter.

I said that these cameras do not pay for themselves unless the yellow cycle is shortened to force motorists into running the red light and getting their photo taken. Of course, shortening the yellow cycle will increase tickets and revenue, but that also makes the intersection dangerous resulting in more accidents. Some may have thought that my charge against politicians and bureaucrats was unjustified. It was a rather serious charge I was making. I said these officials are willing to tolerate more accidents and the concomitant damage to property and injury to citizens in order to increase their city or county coffers. But I did also cite evidence where that very thing has been done in the past.

Now we have this story, posted at thenewspaper.com:

The investigation into the fraudulent use of red light cameras in [location] last week concluded with prosecutors preparing charges against thirty-eight public officials and photo enforcement company executives. Prosecutors claim that three photo enforcement companies formed a cartel that operated in collusion with public officials for the purpose of generating revenue. The officials accepted bribes in return for approving lucrative contracts and shortening the duration of yellow lights at intersections equipped with red light cameras.

In what American city did this take place? Actually, it was in Milan, Italy. Does that make it irrelevant because Italian public servants are vile and their American counterparts are pure? Not at all. They’re both humans and humans are flawed. Humans are greedy and will do bad things to satisfy their lust for other peoples’ money. Humans respond to incentives, whether they are in the private sector or the public sector. That’s the human condition whether the particular humans are Italian or American.

What can be done? Well, the obvious thing is to stop creating situations that tempt the people in charge to engage in this chicanery. That would mean passing laws against red-light cameras. Do it in the name of safety. Red-light cameras create unreasonably dangerous intersections. Actually, it is the miscreants who manipulate the yellow cycle, but it’s the red-light camera that provides the incentive.

This is also from the story:

The town of Segrate, near Milan, has also been at the center of the investigation, with prosecutors receiving complaints from motorists as early as 2006 about abusive practices. Mayor Adriano Alessandrini is now accused of shortening the duration of yellow lights to boost the profits of the red light camera program. The move paid off, with 2,425,801.60 euros (US $3,206,078.01) in revenue generated from motorists who did not have adequate time to stop, according to prosecution documents. The yellow in this case was set at 4.0 seconds with a “grace period” set to the bare minimum of 0.1 seconds — settings that are extremely common in the US.

The answer to making intersections safer and reducing crashes is to make sure the yellow-cycle is set properly according to traffic engineering principles, and stop creating incentives for political manipulation. Making intersections safe will put the red-light camera manufacturers out of business, and they should be. Their product is a menace to our safety and well being.

Further reading on this subject:

University of South Florida’s College of Public Health concluded that instead of improving safety, red-light cameras actually make intersections more dangerous

Driver in Collier County, Florida claims the yellow lights are simply too short. And as it turns out, he’s right.

6800 tickets issued between August 14, 2009 and February 28, 2010 were declared invalid by the San Mateo, County Superior Court. City of South San Francisco must return $3 Million in illegal fines and pay a fine of their own of $250,000.

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One Response

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  1. thenonconformer said, on Friday, June 25, 2010, 6: 29 AM at 6:29 AM

    Do we really need more red traffic light speeding cameras or just more cameras rather now? The clearest thing is the red light cameras have not changed driving habits? We all know red light and speed cameras are paced for profit?


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