There is growing outrage over the millions of dollars collected from red light camera tickets. Now AAA is saying those cameras amount to a war on drivers.
There was a two-car accident with injury Tuesday afternoon in the intersection of 7th and Florida Avenue, NW in DC, and witnesses say one car blew through the red light. There’s no red light camera at the intersection, but there are 50 at other intersections around the city and AAA has raised many questions whether Washington’s record $13 million in red light camera fines is more about safety or revenue.
“You better have a lot of dollars in your wallet if you’re driving in D.C. because they’re going to pick your pocket at every opportunity,” says Lon Anderson, a spokesman with AAA.
The company complains the cameras are not just fining motorists for running through red lights but for turning right on red without coming to a full stop or getting caught in the intersection in heavy traffic. The most red light tickets are given out at 4th and New York Avenue, NW, D.C..
D.C. pulled in $177 million through red light, speed and parking tickets last year. But not everyone’s complaining.
In another case a judge in Hamilton, Ohio, called the red-light-camera operation being run in the village of Elmwood Place a “scam that motorists can’t win”, comparing the system to a “high-tech game of 3-card Monty.”
In his decision, Judge Robert Ruehlman decided that the operation failed to provide due process. The judge also exposed the many corrupt practices involved with the red light camera operation, being run by the for-profit company Optotraffic, in the village of Elmwood Place. Judge Ruehlman noted that the cameras are calibrated only once per year, as well as criticizing the administrative hearing process involved with the operation, when a person wants to challenge the allegation made by the camera. “If the owner of the vehicle wants to contest the liability, he or she must pay $25.00 to the Village of Elmwood and request a hearing before a hearing officer and there is no assurance that the fee will be returned if the appeal is successful. However, the hearing is nothing more than a sham!”, says Judge Robert Ruehlman.
Also discussed in the judge’s decision was the effect that the red-light-cameras had on the community. “Businesses have lost customers who now refuse to drive through Elmwood. Churches have lost members who are frightened to come to Elmwood and individuals who have received notices were harmed because they were unable to defend themselves against the charges brought against them.”
Optotraffic, like most of these red-light-camera operators, has come under heavy criticism for their role in this highly profitable scheme. In the case of Elmwood Place, which is capable of collecting over 2 million dollars, in a period of six months, Optotraffic receives 40 percent of that revenue. In the state of Maryland, there have been reports that Optotraffic cameras have shown to be inaccurate, as well as a class action lawsuit involving Optotraffic and the town of River Park, challenging the town to refund citations bearing the forged signature of a police officer. Also in Maryland, a representative of AAA, Lon Anderson, said he believes that the red-light-camera operation being run is “not being used primarily for safety” but instead is “about making money for the city and camera producer Optotraffic.”
There are legislators in the state of Connecticut that are attempting to change the law to allow red-light-cameras to go up, throughout the state. I have written about this push for red-light cameras in Connecticut involving corruption, United Nations Agenda 21, and the Rockefellers Brothers Fund, and I will continue to document, and expose, this scam, and do my best to prevent it from taking hold in Connecticut.