Traffic Cameras Need to Go
In the last month my wife and I have gotten four speeding tickets. Nope, not from traffic cops. From those cameras that take a photo of your car as it “speeds” past a radar. You get the ticket in the mail anywhere from one to two weeks after the offense.
Long before I started getting these tickets, I was strongly opposed to these cameras. You can imagine what four tickets in four weeks has done for my tolerance. Simply put, these things have no place in our cities. They are a terrible bit of government overreach, line the pockets of corporations and set a horrible precedent for policing.
First, there’s little evidence that the cameras increase safety. There’s data to back this up, but you really don’t need any hard numbers to come to this conclusion. It’s hard to slow down and be safer if I get the ticket two weeks after I was speeding. Second, what is speeding? My wife got one ticket for going 32 in a 25. And that 25 speed limit is on a major DC road where the flow of traffic easily and safely exceeds 40mph at any given time.
Such incidents of artificially low speed limits has pushed DC councilwoman Carol Swartz to propose raising limits on many roads. Of course, that would mean less profit for the city. The cameras are a cash cow for both the city and for Affiliated Computer Services Inc., the company that runs them (they bought the contract from Lockheed Martin).
The profit-motive of these cameras coupled with the fact they do little to increase safety should be enough to make any right-minded citizen oppose their use. But there is one other good reason to want these cameras taken down. Think about this: do we want our laws enforced by computers?
The judgment of a police officer cannot be replaced by a camera. A free society relies on our laws being enforced not by strict, insensitive machines but by human beings who can assess a situation and determine the best course of action. And our laws do not exist to provide the government with a sneaky source of revenue. If the city wants more funds, they should try raising taxes.
If you think I’m writing this post because my family just got four tickets in one month, you’re right. The city just robbed me. I don’t like my government using computers to enforce the law. I don’t like my government watching me with cameras. And I don’t like being charged $50 for traveling 32 in a 25. It’s terrible government.