Not So Fast: Red-Light Cameras Under Fire for Controversy

  • 08/19/2019 12:00 AM
  • Source: AAN
  • by: AAN Staff
Not So Fast: Red-Light Cameras Under Fire for Controversy
Speed and red-light cameras aren't just a nuisance to the United States' 225 million licensed drivers; their constitutionality is dubious, at best.

Per The Hill:
 

Specifically, use of these cameras could violate the Sixth Amendment. The Confrontation Clause grants criminal defendants the right to be confronted with the witnesses against them. Since it is a camera and not a person that witnessed the offense, such violations generally cannot be considered a criminal offense. The ticket is issued to the owner of the vehicle, not to the person driving it, leaving a lack of certainty as to the identity of the offender.

Therefore, the "ticket" in most places is nothing more than a civil fine, making enforcement and collection difficult. To date, governments have avoided this problem by requiring payment of the fine before motorists can renew their driver's license or auto registration. Although there generally are appeals procedures, they typically do not give drivers a day in court. In other words, what happened to being innocent until proven guilty?

There are several for-profit companies that install and operate the cameras, some of them foreign-owned. In a typical arrangement, a camera company will contract with a local government to pay the capital cost of installing the cameras in exchange for a share of the revenue generated via fines. In short, governments get a new revenue stream without any operating cost, and the camera companies make a tidy profit.

The companies and government officials argue that greater safety will result from fewer accidents and that the increased government revenue will benefit the local communities.


However, Vox reported how their impact has been far more complicated. While such traffic cameras have reduced broadside crashes, they have increased rear-end collisions.

Lengthening yellow lights and building more roundabouts are two substantially cheaper alternatives to intrusive traffic cameras.
 Source: AAN
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