Fifteen years ago, red-light cameras were a rarity. Now, 24 states and Washington, D.C., use them with regularity — and backlash is starting to build.
"What the issue really comes down to is these companies are ripping people off by hundreds of millions of dollars, in the name of caring about our safety and our health and our kids," said New Jersey Assemblyman Declan O-Scanlon, who has introduced legislation opposing red-light camera use in the state, according to an NBC report.
Big Brother concerns persist, as do constitutional concerns — the right of the accused to face their accusers, for instance. But what's really causing angst with the anti-red-light-camera crowd is the realization that the technology seems more a money-maker — for the private companies that run the cameras and for the governments that share in the revenues — than a successful safety program. Add tales of corruption to fuel that angst.
In Chicago, for instance, the mayor banned one company from bidding on future contracts after it was allegedly discovered the entity was engaging in a pay-to-play scheme with its red-light camera business, NBC reported. In Iowa, meanwhile, constitutional concerns have so far kept out the cameras — same as in nine other states, NBC reports.
One big checkmark for red-light camera opponents is a 2005 report from the Federal Highway Administration: Data from the report showed a decrease in front-to-side vehicle crashes at intersections with red-light cameras, NBC reported. But, researchers also found increases in rear-end crashes at these same intersections — an apparent result of drivers slamming on their brakes to avoid tickets, NBC reported.
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