town of Farragut, Tennessee created quite a stir when
it decided [PDF]
back in 2006 to look at adopting an automated system to "watch"
its town's drivers and automatically give them tickets for running
red lights. The system was finally
contracted in 2009 to Redflex INC. The system was
completed in August 2009 with three cameras, and a fourth camera went
online this summer.The early statistics have been
released by the town and they're either a staggering
statement to how blatantly the town's population violates the law or
how automated traffic enforcement systems may be much more active
than expected.In the first and second quarters, 7,168 and
7,213 incidents respectively were recorded by the cameras. In
total, 3,515 and 3,873 citations respectively were issued in the two
quarters. That's about 45 citations a day, or roughly 14 per
camera per day (before the fourth camera came online).To give
a further breakdown, for the second quarter, 2,673 of the 7,213
incidents were rejected after review by an officer. Another 662
incidents were not processed "due to technical issues or lack of
information." And the remaining incidents, as mentioned
resulted in citationsCitizens have found it increasingly hard
to argue their innocence in the face of glaring video evidence.
This is especially true in the case of rolling stops (slowing, but
not fully stopping when turning at a red light). Some citizens
insisted their innocence, but when showed the video gave up their
claims, according to the cops.Perhaps the good thing for
citizens is that the citation is merely a non-moving violation, which
carries no points and thus does not raise drivers' insurance.
It weighs in at $50 USD per ticket. The perhaps interesting
part is that the language used by various towns in the state indicate
that there's a lower
standard of Constitutional protections with such systems.
Lawyers for the towns of Chattanooga and Red Bank (where a similar
system is deployed) write, "[Drivers] are not entitled to a
trial by jury, a presumption of innocence or a heightened burden of
proof."That's typical for civil offenses, which bear a
lower burden of proof. But its atypical for traffic violations,
which often carry a presumption of innocence and allow citizens to
request a trial by jury. The shift is likely due to the light
penalty associated with the ticket, but it's worrisome because that
penalty could be bumped at some point to a full moving
violation.Two $10M USD suits about the system are pending.
However, these suits, which will be heard in court on September 20,
seem unlikely to succeed. After all, the Tennessee Court of
Appeals recently denied complaints about Knoxville, Tennessee's
similar camera system.Another concern is the reliability
of such systems. Students in 2008 in Montgomery
County, Maryland used fake license plates to spoof similar
systems which gave speeding tickets. The result was multiple
people they pranked receiving traffic fines.
quote: Every light with a camera on it should be required to display a timer as well advising how many seconds are left before the light changes to yellow.