I live in a community that has installed traffic cameras at major intersections. Run through a red light and you’re going to get a ticket in the mail with a hefty price tag attached. Doesn’t matter if you were behind the wheel. If the vehicle is registered in your name, you get the ticket.  Example: a neighbor of mine purchased a new car. Preferring to not trade in his old vehicle, an employee of the dealership followed him home, driving the old vehicle.

Unbeknownst to my neighbor, the dealership employee ran a red light. Several days later, my neighbor received a ticket in the mail, fining him for $129.

Puzzled, he checked the date on the violation and quickly realized what happened.  He contacted the dealership, which claimed no responsibility for the fine.  My neighbor could have hired an attorney — not cheap — and taken the dealership and/or the employee to court.

Weighing the options — attorney’s fees, time off from work, etc., vs. a $129 ticket, my neighbor decided to pay the fine and move on with his life.

This is another example of how government’s collaboration with unscrupulous businesses creates intrusion into our lives that wreak havoc with our personal peace and our pocketbook.  Revenue sorely needed by municipalities that are stretched to the max budget-wise are opting for technology to do the job law enforcement officers used to.  What would you do?

According to The Blaze, camera vendors employed nearly 40 lobbyists this year in Florida alone ( !!! ) whose agenda included killing a bill that would have required communities to adopt longer yellow light times to increase intersection safety and killing a separate bill that would have banned red-light camera systems.

About half of states have authorized the use of red-light cameras. As many as 700 communities, with a combined total of more than 60 million people, outsource their street and highway camera systems, according to a report released today by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

And according to the study, the news isn’t good for you or me or my neighbor. It questions the wisdom of privatized law enforcement, and is critical of existing practices for red light camera use.

The report’s authors suggested the privatized law enforcement arrangement creates a dynamic where the companies end up lobbying for the creation of more violations. In Florida, for example, red light camera companies employed forty lobbyists at a cost of over $2 million to kill legislation that would have mandated longer yellow signal times and that would have otherwise limited the use of photo ticketing. Both Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia and American Traffic Solutions (ATS) have created front groups to create the appearance that these corporate efforts have “grassroots” support.

Is your community among the 700 contracted to these companies??  Are you happy about it? So what are you going to do about it?  Were you at the city council meeting where the matter was taken up for consideration?  Do you even know what your city is doing?  What’s on the agenda for the next city council meeting?

Get active.