Nov 8, 2012

Smile for the Camera!

Have you ever received a ticket from an automated traffic camera? I was recently talking with someone who has received two automated tickets in the last month. Apparently the fines for these tickets are quite expensive and he believes they are excessive and cruel. I agree.

Red light and speeding cameras are sold as a way to slow down traffic and keep the citizen's safe. But in truth, they are sold to cities and counties as a way to generate incredible revenue. And if the camera is placed in a strategic location, the money generated could run a small country! In fact, last month it was reported that Traffic Cameras in Washington D.C. have already generated over $23 million in 2012.

I don't want to get too technical, but it is helpful to know how speed limits are supposed to work. Speed limits are supposed to be set to catch the “bad guys”. In a perfect world, a city would find out how fast people normally drive on a street and set the speed limit accordingly. In fact, the recommended practice is to set the speed limit so that only the fastest 15 out of 100 cars would be classified as “speeding”. So, if a city puts a camera in a location where the speed limit is set too low, they can make a lot of money.
When I lived in Phoenix, the town of Paradise Valley installed a speed camera. They placed a camera on a road that was signed at 45 miles per hour, but everyone drove much faster. In fact, it was a road very similar to Mary Ann Cleveland Way.

At first the camera was set to take a picture of people driving faster than 50 mph. But there were so many people exceeding that speed, the camera burned out on the first day. So the town replaced the camera and set it at 55 mph but the new camera burned out too. In fact it wasn't until the speed was set to 70 miles per hour that the camera was able to keep up with the “bad guys”

I don't like traffic cameras. They remove the human element. There are no extenuating circumstances. It's hard to plead your case at the time you get a ticket. You can talk all you want to the camera but it will still give you a ticket. I also believe that $280 is outrageous.

But who said life was fair? If life were fair, we'd all be punished for our multitude of sins. Thanks be to Jesus who went to our traffic court and successfully pleaded our case before the Judge.

Pastor David Hook