The problem with allowing local control of ticket cameras is that they are always used for profits, never for any true safety improvements.

Speed cameras are expensive and can produce profits above their own high costs only if used in areas where the posted limits are deliberately, improperly, and less-safely left or set at least eight to 10 or more mph below the safest 85th percentile speed levels. Example: If the slowest 85 percent of the cars are at or below 43 to 47 mph, then the safest limit to post to usually produce the fewest crashes is 45 mph -- not 50 or 40 or 35 or lower. You would usually find a speed camera in such a location only if the posted limit was left or set at 35 or lower. This allows the camera to ticket mostly safe drivers at or just above 45 mph - but those drivers near the actual 85th percentile speeds have the lowest risks of being in or causing crashes. This means most tickets go the safest drivers on the road, a perversion of the supposed purpose for speed enforcement. If the limit were correctly set at 45 to maximize safety and minimize crash risks, there would not be enough violators far enough above the correct 45 limit for the total fines to cover the costs of the camera. And the area would not be a speed trap to punish safe drivers for "the crime of driving as safely as possible for the actual conditions". And speed cameras are almost never used where they don't produce profits above their own high costs - because profits are the true purpose for using speed cameras.

Similar issues are also true for red light cameras. If the traffic lights are engineered for minimum violations and maximum safety with correctly set yellow and all-red intervals, and the enforcement rules are set up to not ticket mostly safe drivers for profits, red light cameras cannot issue enough tickets for the total fines to even cover their own high costs. And red light cameras are almost never used where they don't produce profits above their own high costs - because profits are the true purpose for using red light cameras.

A few years ago, a bill to ban all ticket cameras statewide easily passed the House. But the bill was blocked in a Senate Committee and was unfairly never even given a hearing. Then-Governor Branstad had promised to sign the bill if it reached his desk, but a small group of Senators that were "in the pocket" of the for-profit camera companies prevented the bill from being debated and almost-certainly passed.

If there were a nationwide ban on using for-profit companies as part of enforcement for traffic laws or other law enforcement areas, there would be no ticket cameras nationwide. Using for-profit companies as any part of law enforcement in any area guarantees that the rules will be corruptly set up to produce profits - not to produce safety or fairness or justice. Money drives out science. Money drives out safety, Money drives out justice. For-profit companies should never play any part whatsoever in law enforcement anywhere in the USA.

James C. Walker

Ann Arbor, MI

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