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Thread: Cameras are bad, period!

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Cameras are bad, period!

    What do you think about using automated technology - cameras - to enforce traffic laws? I think it's a noxious notion, for several reasons.

    Tell me if you think I'm wrong:

    * They are set up primarily to "enhance revenue" - not to improve traffic safety.

    If traffic safety were the goal, reasonable traffic laws/regs. that are violated, for the most part, only by genuinely dangerous drivers would be set up. Most people, after all, are reasonable. It follows that whenever a large percent of the general population finds itself routinely in violation of some law or other, it is probably the law that's screwy - not the people. (See: Prohibition, the 55 mph highway speed limit. Etc.)

    Which is why the use of cameras is suspect on its face. The cameras - and the laws upon which they are based - are clearly set up ensnare as many people as possible - which has the convenient side effect of helping the city/county generate as much revenue as possible. Millions of dollars annually, in some cases.

    Coincidence?

    An example is the way yellow intervals have been deliberately reduced at intersections where cameras have been put up. It is known that proper signal timing is very effective at reducing red light running - because most red light running is inadvertent. A driver approaches an intersection that suddenly shifts to yellow; because of the "short yellow," he gets caught mid-intersection, having entered when the light was still green but is nailed as it turns yellow, then red, before he can get through. It has been shown - by real-world testing - that increasing the yellow interval just a little bit markedly reduces the number of red light runners. No cameras - or tickets - required. But that's not what's wanted, eh?

    Several deliberately under-timed/improperly timed intersection have been successfully challenged in court. All of them had been altered (to shortened yellow intervals) when the cameras went up. Coincidence? I don't think so.

    Do you?

    Cameras are about the money - period.

    * The whole point of having human traffic cops is to enforce the laws; if traffic enforcement is to be done by machines, why even bother with traffic cops at all? What are we paying these guys for, anyway?

    A human traffic cop can also exercise judgment - at least in theory - on a case by case basis; a machine cannot. Everyone's "guilty" - irrespective of circumstances. This is unfair on the face of it. Sometimes, there are legitimate reasons for disobeying a traffic law. For example, let's say you are at a light that's red when an emergency vehicle - ambulance, fire truck, etc. - comes up behind you. You have the choice of either obstructing the emergency vehicle by failing to move out of the way - which is itself a violation of law - as well as just a crappy thing to do, as someone's life may hang in the balance. Or you can do the right thing and get out of the way - even if it means "running" the red light. A human cop would probably not give you a ticket under such circumstances. The %$!!@ camera will, every time. And it will be on you to clear the matter up (if you even can) by wasting a day in court/fighting the bureaucracy.

    * Cameras undermine due process.

    When a cop performs a traffic stop, he asks to see your license and confirms your identity definitively - as well as the ownership of the vehicle. There is no question, later on, as to who was driving the car - and specifically, whether the owner of the car was also the driver at the time of the alleged violation. You may dispute the particulars of the charge itself, but if a human cop issued your ticket, there is no question as to the identity of the person who was cited. With cameras, it is the car that is charged - because the "offender" is the vehicle, not the driver. The camera snaps a photo of the car's license plate - and it is the car's owner (who may or may not be the driver at the time) who gets the ticket in the mail.

    It's true some of the more sophisticated cameras also take a picture of the driver - but a photo (grainy, taken at a distance, under not-ideal conditions, etc.) is much less dispositive than a human police officer physically examining a driver's license and comparing it to the face of the person he is interviewing.

    With photo tickets, too, it becomes the burden of the accused to prove it wasn't him (or her) behind the wheel - reversing the most basic precept of Western jurisprudence that for centuries has placed the burden of proof on the accuser.

    The owner may be completely innocent - and often is. Maybe it was the wife/husband - or teenage kid - who happened to be driving at the time. Who knows, really? Yet when it comes to cameras and mailed-to-you tickets, it's the owner's burden to prove it wasn't him that did the (alleged) deed.

    That is seriously FUBAR.

    Even more FUBAR: In some states, the authorities demand that the owner identify the person who was driving at the time - if the owner is claiming it wasn't him. When did it become the job of the formerly innocent-until-proved-guilty citizen to serve as proxy prosecutor - ratting out others for the benefit of the state in order to avoid fines and punishment himself?

    What the hell is this country coming to?

    The whole thing is a loathsome shakedown.

    You may be asking: Is there such a thing as a non-loathsome shakedown? Well, perhaps not. But some shakedowns are, at least, honest - in the sense that there is no pretense that anything other than a shakedown is taking place. Give it up! The dirtbag has a gun/knife - or he's huge - so you give it up. But thug though he may be, he doesn't tell you he's robbing you for your own protection, or that you deserved it because of some wrong thing you've done.

    He just wants your money, plain and simple ... and in its own twisted way, that's commendably honest.
    Last edited by Eric; 12-22-2008 at 01:20 PM.

  2. #2
    Ridin Dirty dom's Avatar
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    Business surveillance and protection of private property/merchandise, no problem.

    For issuing tickets and generating money, no way.

    In my opinion it's completely unjust and undermines innocent until proven guilty, not to mention mitigating circumstances that may have something to do with the traffic violation.

    Until I actually get snagged by one of these devices I am not going to rant with too much feeling though.

    "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato "
    -Mussolini
    All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

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    One point you overlooked, pertaining to speed cameras, is that those machines capture an specific instant without regard to previous and/or subsequent behavior, other vehicles, weather, traffic patterns, etc. And the same criticism applies to speed radar.
    Dennis - Tucson

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    Quote Originally Posted by D_E_Davis View Post
    One point you overlooked, pertaining to speed cameras, is that those machines capture an specific instant without regard to previous and/or subsequent behavior, other vehicles, weather, traffic patterns, etc. And the same criticism applies to speed radar.
    Yes. Camera radar and/or laser is subject to the same errors as police radar in normal driving conditions.

    Just because "evidence" is gathered by a camera and processed through a computerized data base system, it doesn't tell the whole story.

    A picture may say 1000 words, but it may take 1000 words to tell the story behind the picture.

    Camera enforcement is a bad idea regardless of measurment errors. The fact is that they deny the driver due process rights afforded under the US constitution. While some may claim that driving is a priviledge rather than a right, due process rights apply to everyone.

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by D_E_Davis View Post
    One point you overlooked, pertaining to speed cameras, is that those machines capture an specific instant without regard to previous and/or subsequent behavior, other vehicles, weather, traffic patterns, etc. And the same criticism applies to speed radar.
    Good call, Dennis - thanks!

    I know how familiar you AZ dwellers are with cameras... and now, you're sending your governor here!

  6. #6
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    I think that any sort of automated enforcement of ANY law is Un-American. It's inherently Big-Brother-ish.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Good call, Dennis - thanks!

    I know how familiar you AZ dwellers are with cameras... and now, you're sending your governor here!
    Yes she is coming to DC - but for Homeland Security not NHTS. She, at least, knows the borders and the problems - probably do a much better job than Chertoff.
    Dennis - Tucson

  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel View Post
    I think that any sort of automated enforcement of ANY law is Un-American. It's inherently Big-Brother-ish.
    Agree 100 percent!

  9. #9
    Ridin Dirty dom's Avatar
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    They don't have these in Virginia right?

    "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato "
    -Mussolini
    All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

  10. #10
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dom View Post
    They don't have these in Virginia right?
    They did in some places in Northern Va.... Alexandria and Fairfax.... but not sure if they are still up.

  11. #11
    Ridin Dirty dom's Avatar
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    I will be on the lookout. I need to get some target practice in with my new gun!

    "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato "
    -Mussolini
    All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

  12. #12
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dom View Post
    I will be on the lookout. I need to get some target practice in with my new gun!
    Me, too!

    (I have only put around 100 rounds through mine; just been busy with work/other stuff.)

    Can you shoot on your land?

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