A speed camera in Baltimore cited Daniel Doty with a $40 fine for driving 38 mph in a 25 mph zone, though two photos issued with the citation showed Doty's car was stopped and the brake lights were on, and a video clip showed the car was stationary, according to the Baltimore Sun. The city has 83 speed cameras and 81 red-light cameras, and offered the Sun no explanation of how the errors occurred.
Edmonton Cancels 141,729 Photo Tickets
The province of Alberta, Canada refunded more than $12 million for 141,729 photo tickets issued in 2009 and 2010 from 47 red-light camera intersections in Edmonton because it was unable to verify the accuracy of the camera's readings. Officials at Edmonton Police Service said there were at least 26 false readings from the automated ticketing machines—a fault discovered when one ticket showed all cars on a particular road in town were traveling at 89 mph.
Pay Up or the Gas Line Gets It
To force drivers to pay tickets from automated red-light and speed cameras, Las Cruces, N.M., threatened in April 2012 to turn off gas, water, sewer, and trash services for those who don't pay the $100 fines, which the city said total about $2 million. Reconnection fees of $48 will be added to the prices of the tickets.
Prescott Valley, Ariz., received a complaint that the police officers in charge of reviewing and issuing tickets from photo-ticketing machines had been dismissing tickets issued to other officers' family members. An auditor from the photo-ticketing machine company was asked to get copies of violations by family members of officers and found that photo evidence was "being 'rejected' at the first review or later in the process within the police department, on incidents involving vehicles registered to police employees. Both the traffic lieutenant and sergeant confirmed to the chief that they customarily electronically "rejected" incidents in SmartOps when they involved a vehicle registered to a Prescott Valley police officer in which the police officer was not driving.
Officers interviewed by auditor John Wintersteen explained that dismissing the tickets was okay because they never would have paid the tickets anyway: They said they had a right to not reveal that it was their family members, not the officers themselves, who were driving their cars at the time of the violation, which is the right of every registered vehicle owner in Arizona, according to Wintersteen.
Why One City Ditched Its Cameras
The city council of Hayward, Calif., recently decided to abandon automated red-light ticketing. Why? In part, the tickets weren't effective: Over four years, the ticket vendor for Hayward sent out 14,536 tickets worth more than $7 million, but most of the tickets went to motorists who were making right-hand turns on red and judges threw out most of these tickets.
But more important: "Rear-end accidents increase significantly because people come to a screeching halt," Hayward Police Chief Diane Urban said to TheNewspaper.com. "There's no proven correlation between red-light camera systems and consistently decreasing crashes." Rear-end collisions increased in most intersections with red-light cameras, although alternatives to cameras—such as increasing the duration of yellow lights by 0.2 to 0.3 seconds on some intersections—have reduced both crashes as well as the number of automated tickets.
[Related: 10 Weird and Wonderful Car Museums]