The Free New Mexican has posted a link on its Red Light Camera Story to a web site called www.stopredlightrunning.com. The web site purports to be part of The National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running . Some cursory checking shows the site and the National Campaign is sponsored by the Red Light Camera Industry. Among the sponsors is Redflex Traffic Systems. This company has contracts in 106 cities* world-wide and, with 90 USA cities under contract, is the largest provider of digital red light and speed enforcement services in North America. It is also the same company who supplies the cameras to Albuquerque and is proposing to supply them to Santa Fe.
The Executive Director of the National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running is Leslie Blakey. She is a hired gun from the firm Blakey & Agnew, LLC. This is a public affairs and communications consulting firm based in Washington, DC. The web site www.stopredlightrunning.com is an advertisement for the Red Light Camera industry. All the news listed in its news section pertains to Red Light Camera's. The only solution listed to preventing red light running accidents is the camera's. Nothing about proper light timing, enforcement by officers, or education of the driving public. Why do I bring all this up? This highlights one of the big concerns I have about this industry.
The movement for these camera's is being developed by private company's with an intense profit motive. The company's charge up to 40% of the fine to provide equipment, technical support and administer the program. Cities cannot install the cameras without contracting with these companies to provide the complete package with a percentage of ticket fines going to the company. Because of the high cost of administering the program the fines are set extremely high usually with entities using the excuse that the fines need to be high in order to be an effective deterrent.
These companies gloss over safety concerns brought about involving rear end collisions when drivers stop suddenly to avoid a red light camera ticket. That message would reduce sales. Since most states require citations to be issued by an officer who witnesses the violation (New Mexico included), these companies promote a civil violation program which skirts the state law.
As I stated in an earlier blog post that goes into more detail about the safety concerns, don't get me wrong there are a lot of good reasons to have red light cameras and I would not be as opposed to them if they were put in such a manner as to not be a revenue generating scheme. Proper procedures must be put in place to protest the citation, and the driver is photographed also to prove who was driving. We must also look at the amount of time the yellow light is on, Many cities have reduced accident just by adjusting the timing of the yellow lights. We should also look at educational programs to educate the motoring public.