Traffic safety by photo radar cameras is
Photo radar cameras are all about raising REVENUE!
Camera Enforcement, How the Fraud Developed
In the late 1960’s, cars were big, gas was cheap, and insurance reasonable. Traffic laws were mostly engineered to maximize traffic flow and enhance safety. Speed limits on limited access divided highways averaged about 70 MPH. Western states safely and correctly posted 75, Kansas 80, and Montana and Nevada had no daytime speed limits. Believe it or not, cops often escorted drinking drivers home, instead of to jail. Traffic fatality rates fell about 5% annually. However, negative changes approached that would create the motoring mess we are in today. By 1973, Insurance’s corporate desire for higher profits began to shape public policies through campaign financing of politicians. Plummeting engine compression and horsepower ratings, plus increasing prices and scorn from insurance killed the original muscle car era. It became almost illegal to enjoy driving. Vietnam was winding down and the country entered a big recession. Then, in late 1973, the phony gas shortage hit, compounding an already bleak economy. Panic ensued. Congress responded with a “temporary” (1 year) law that took effect in March 1974 – the National Maximum 55 Speed Limit. The “purpose” was to “save fuel”. By then, the “shortage” was nearing its end, but the recession continued. From day one, motorists did NOT drive 55 but the safe 70 MPH speeds they were traveling for years prior. Violating states rights, the Federal government blackmailed the states to comply and enforce the new unreasonable (not properly engineered) speed limit or lose highway funds. This opened a giant Pandora’s Box of non-consensual, over-zealous speed enforcement on the motoring public. Mandatory car insurance laws began to be established in most states. Insurance bought their way into being (improperly) allowed to surcharge customers for 3 years after they received a traffic citation. The double-nickel created a bonanza of profits for government, insurance and police radar manufacturers from the multitude of tickets unfairly issued to the vast majority of safe drivers. By 1975, the government/insurance alliance discovered that there occurred 8,856 less fatalities in 1974 versus 1973 (54,052 versus 45,196). The magical reason: the 55 speed limit. Never mind that it never maintained a majority compliance. Or that fatalities on all roads (most posted below 55) and even pedestrian deaths plummeted. The real reasons were many: increased seatbelt use, automotive engineering improvements (stronger bumpers), the establishment of new paramedic units and positive historical trends that began in 1966 (2,000 lives saved).
However, the main reason (4,300 lives saved) resulted from the recession/gas shortage. For the only time in modern history, Americans drove significantly less miles than the normal trend (-100 billion VMT). Despite lack of public consensus, 55 became a permanent law and spawned a new government agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Its main purpose wasn’t true safety, but to politically endorse and promote 55 as a good law. Propaganda slogans emerged. “55 saves lives”. Then, “speed kills”. States actually were required to prove their motorists complied by submitting travel speed data that showed a majority drove the new speed limit. Even with a 5 MPH “grace”, most states had to resort to cheating to fudge the numbers into Federal compliance.
Thus began the still ongoing era of violating peoples guaranteed rights under the guise of “safety” and perverting the proper engineering of traffic control devices (speed limits, traffic signals, etc.) to usurp enormous profits for government and corporate (Insurance) interests. In short, government/corporate profits became more important than peoples liberty and safety.
The unethically obtained revenue soared into the billions by 1980. Despite the safety rhetoric and zealous enforcement, fatalities climbed back up past 51,000 in 1979 and 1980, while the MFR remained frozen at 3.3 for four years. In 1982, an honest grass roots citizen group formed. Citizens for Rational Traffic Laws, which later became the National Motorists Association, led the battle to rid our country of the most unjust, disobeyed law in U.S. history.
In the 1980’s, red-light and photo radar ticket cameras began operating in Australia. Before anyone knew if they improved traffic safety or NOT, camera proponets labeled them as “safety” devices. Then, the same phony slogan from 55 was applied to cameras – “cameras save lives”. Focusing on safety would (again) detract from the fact that cameras violate rights, while extorting millions of dollars in rapid fashion from (again) mostly safe driving motorists. By the mid 1980’s, nationwide enforcement of the unjust 55 NMSL apprehended close to 9 million drivers annually (FHwA). Government profits soared. Insurance profits from these and other “speeding” tickets exceeded 2 billion dollars. But it was about “safety”, they insisted. In April 1987, inspired by the NMA and reality – nobody drove 55 – Congress relented somewhat, allowing rural interstates to be posted at 65 MPH. Most states gladly posted the new limits as even the police were tired of enforcing a losing situation. Insurance protested (for “safety” reasons) and made dire predictions of speeding deaths which never materialized. They did convince most of the Northeast to keep the double nickel exclusively despite data showing about an 80% rate of disobedience. But they claim they care about public acceptance. Motorists became increasingly sick and tired of speed enforcement. Most knew in their heart, but correctly, that money motivated the enforcement programs. Then along comes photo radar cameras first U.S.A. appearance, ironically in Friendswood, Texas. Texans showed their disdain for the devices by wearing Halloween masks and shooting guns at the cameras. Soon thereafter, the constable dismantled the program. During the next several years, speed enforcement cameras were attempted and rejected by over 24 communities.
The year 1992 became a record safe year for low fatalities – 39,250. All types of fatal crashes were down, including red-light violation crashes (847 fatal crashes, 958 fatalities). Also that year, the Federal Highway Administration Speed Limit Survey, spanning 5 years in 27 states, revealed that over 90% of speed limits were posted too low, “making technical violators out of motorists driving at reasonable and safe speeds”. It also revealed that the slowest drivers cause the most crashes. Drivers 5 – 10 MPH faster than average were safest. This study correctly denounced the whole slower is safer, low speed limits save lives, speed kills myth propagated by the FHwA’s sister group NHTSA.
Politics intervened to circumvent the truth from going public. However, the NMA obtained a copy, passed it to Car and Driver, which printed the conclusions. However, the mainstream media failed to report about this nationwide injustice. Camera promoters couldn’t get their speed cameras established, so they changed strategies. Unlike speed limit enforcement, red light violation enforcement appeared more safety oriented. And the public maintained no general understanding of signal change intervals. It would be much easier to demonize “red light runners” and profit at their expense. Then later, if RLTC's get established, speed cameras sneak in the back door (Mesa and Scottsdale, Arizona).
Electronic Data Systems influenced political leaders in New York City in 1993, where they established the nation’s first red light ticket camera program. To avoid any possible rejection, they and city officials circumvented the democratic process by installing the controversial devices without public knowledge, debate or consent. There was no (mis) information campaign and they did NOT post warning signs at intersection approaches. (FHwA, “Synthesis and Evaluation of Red-Light Running Automated Enforcement Programs in the United States,” September 1999). A significant player in this scenario was engineer Richard Retting who, shortly thereafter, was hired by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to promote ticket cameras worldwide.
The NYC cameras usurped $18.5 million in the first 3 years. NYC only received $3 million of the take proving that camera companies are the master negotiators over government bureaucrats. The NMA – through a lawyer activist – petitioned the city on several occasions to produce data regarding intersection crashes. They never did. Yet, they insist the camera program is about safety.
This first RLTC program showcases the TRUTH that camera proponents DO NOT CARE about public consensus, people’s rights or safety. They only care about money. This first program was a grand deception, just like the RLTC programs employed today. To maximize the number of tickets (money) NYC sets the absolute federal minimum, 3.0 seconds of yellow. These unethically short yellows cause more crashes already. Adding cameras makes things worse.
In 1994, the Institute of Transportation Engineers covertly shortened the yellow time requirements for U.S. traffic signals. ITE Traffic Engineering Journals revealed several key changes, which opened the door to ticket cameras. ITE 1989 subsection, “Measure of Effectiveness (of Yellow Change Intervals)” states, “When the percentage of vehicles… which enter on red, exceeds that which is locally acceptable (many agencies use a value of 1-3%), the yellow interval should be lengthened until the percentage conforms to local standards.”
Later in the report, Mr. Hulscher, an Australian, suggests a new enforcement technique to deter drivers who enter on red intentionally – cameras. This is the subtle set-up.
Here’s the punch line. The same subsection in 1994 states, “When the percentage of vehicles that enter on a red indication exceeds that which is locally acceptable, the yellow change interval may be lengthened (or shortened) until the percentage conforms to local standards, or ENFORCEMENT (emphasis mine) can be used instead.” Camera enforcement working 24/7 is inferred. Also, note the addition of the word “shortened” in regards to yellow timing.
Enforcement to correct engineering deficiencies? Since several ITE members, including Retting (IIHS), actively promote and profit from cameras, there certainly appears to be a conflict of interest here. An engineer’s job should not involve promoting enforcement. Engineers should properly engineer traffic controls to maximize safety and compliance. ITE Journal (1989) reveals more language/procedure changes. “If it is the policy to provide clearance time, the traditional practice has been either to add the time to the yellow warning interval, or to use what has previously been called the ‘all red interval’, herein referred to as the red clearance interval. When clearance time is provided, it should be in the form of a red clearance interval (additional details are elsewhere in this proposed recommended practice).”
As revealed in the ITE Journals, there occurs substantially LESS yellow time than there used to be. Hence, a manufactured increase (40 – 75%) in the number of red-light violations began in the middle to late 1990’s.
To spotlight the serious nature of the problem, here’s a comparative example of past versus present yellow interval lengths, determined by the Kinematic Formula. Using a level intersection, 100 feet across with an approach speed of 35 MPH, the 1980’s yellow time would be 5.05 seconds. The 1999 yellow time calculates to only 3.57 seconds. This equates to 1.48 seconds less yellow time than before, a reduction of 29.3%. Federal law ‘requires’ a minimum of 3.0 seconds of yellow and ‘suggests’ a maximum of 6 seconds. The absolute minimum should be 4.0 seconds, as three seconds is too short for perception/reaction time AND time to safely stop, forcing motorists to violate the red. Is it any wonder that camera proponets usually set up their photo enforcement machines at these unethically short yellow time intersections (New York, Fairfax, Beaverton, Mesa, Maryland, etc.)? It’s simple: the closer yellow time is to six seconds, less accidents and much less violations result. Conversely, closer to three seconds greatly increases RLVs and monetary profits, but, unfortunately for the driving public, CAUSES more crashes, injuries and fatalities. Finally, on November 28, 1995, legislation presented by NMA request, ended the NMSL 55/65, returning speed limit powers back to the states. Insurance and NHTSA predicted 6,400 more fatalities would result. Over the next two years, forty states raised limits. Fatalities declined by over 400 on all limited – access – divided – highways. Government/Insurance revenues probably fell about 20%, but were quickly replaced by double fines in school and construction zones, plus the future hope of profits from ticket cameras.
Also in 1995, a comprehensive report on RLTCs was completed in Melbourne, Australia. Analysis of 41 camera sites, over an eleven year period, proved that RLTCs caused a +70% increase of all crashes and a +100% rise in rear-end collisions. Before cameras, crashes were declining. See graph.
Since this irrefutable study was Australian and NOT on the Internet, it was covered up. Like the FHwASLS, facts were NOT going to stand in the way of monetary profits. Retting (IIHS) referenced this study in “Automated Enforcement of Traffic Laws” (1999). However, the report failed to mention the fact that cameras cause more crashes, injuries and fatalities. He did not report the angle crash increases, while the serious increase of rear-end collisions remained underreported, down played and dismissed as a temporary nuisance. Five years after cameras, there still occurred a +90% increase of rear-end crashes. Furthermore, Andreassen refuted all previous studies claiming cameras reduced crashes. The IIHS and camera companies ignored Andreassen’s honest research and continued to promote the false studies that they had financed.
Camera enforcement begins. Andreassen (1995) Melbourne, Australia
Before RLTC’s, crashes decline - 20% After RLTC’s, crashes increase +70% By 1996, RLTCs began in California and Arizona. In addition to the fines, license points were assessed against violators. Insurance (IIHS) received their cut of the profit pie.
The Federal Highway Administration sheds some objectivity, becomes political and creates, “STOP! Red-Light Running” week – a national program including (mis) information, web site, phone numbers and Federal money (tax dollars) for RLTC demonstration projects, like Polk County, Florida (1996). Data from Polk later showed that RLTCs caused a 6% increase in crashes. Written warnings were issued.
“Red-light running” (correct term: red-light violation) is now a “major” national problem, which can only be solved by ticket cameras. The IIHS gets busy manufacturing propaganda to convince the public that there is a national “red-light running” problem that can only be solved by ticket cameras.
NHTSA is distracted, trying to explain why – their mandated for “safety” – airbags are maiming and killing people in low speed crashes.
Despite the deaths, they refuse to allow consumer choice or change the mandate. They later distract the memory challenged public with the “aggressive driving epidemic,” which they falsely claim “causes 2/3 of all fatal crashes.” Their own statistics show only 5%.
The IIHS, FHwA, NHTSA and Camera company “research” begins appearing in newspapers and on IIHS friendly channels like NBC and MSNBC. Counterpoints are often not reported or censored. NBC and USA Today censored my book from the public in 2001.
The following chart showcases 36 camera promoter deceptions (fraud) against the American public. Most are direct quotes or statements from “research” or sales propaganda.
For all the graphs and table see pages 9 to 14 at this URL.
Yellow means slow down to stop or yellow means stop [ACS, Redflex, etc.]. Yellow warns of an impending red. There remains no warning of an impending yellow. It means slow down to stop only if you are far enough away for a smooth, comfortable stop. If too close, you are to proceed through the intersection (ITE). NCSRLR only mentions yellow twice (in this same false context). They claim the campaign is about safety - reducing crashes, saving lives, etc. However, increasing yellow time is never mentioned despite the proven safety results: 30 - 50% less crashes [Detroit, Texas, San Francisco, and Omaha]. In addition, one second added to the yellow decreases RLVs by 40 - 75%. These results kill any supposed benefits of, or need for, camera enforcement. Yellow increases mean MONEY decreases.
Cameras are about safety. ALL. Ticket cameras are about MONEY. Camera companies are a business for profit, not a humanitarian group. Cameras usurp millions of dollars in mere months. One camera company official said, "It wasn't his job to check for safety improvements." New York City - the first 3 years of RLTCs extorted $18.5 million. The camera company EDS took $15.5 million. The city only made $3 million after expenses. Washington, D.C. - 6 years of ticket cameras usurped $32 million while causing a +81% increase of injury/fatal crashes. People dying for corporate/government profits is hardly about safety. Like most of the 36 camera promoter statements, the TRUTH is the complete opposite of what they claim. Cameras are ANTI-SAFETY and ALL ticket camera programs are a fraud and must be dismantled immediately.
Constantly parroting, “cameras save lives” – despite any honest proof – camera promoters produced (bought and paid for) “research” that supported their political/financial agenda (Mesa and Oxnard). Real studies, like Andreassen and Mauz, were routinely censored. The enormous profits from ticket cameras and insurance allow proponents to BUY everyone and everything. Campaign contributions (and bribes – ACS, Redflex) bought legislators. Sold out lawyer/legislators/Attorney Generals perverted the meaning of our Constitutional rights to help clear those hurdles. Camera bills bought support by offering a slice of financial pie to city, county and state governments, local police, state police, MADD and others. They even bought and manufactured phony advocacy groups, like National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running. This “advocacy” was started by the camera company, Affiliated Computer Services (ACS of Dallas) and supported by Redflex (Australia and Scottsdale, AZ) and Nestor.
These camera companies took this deception a step further by hiring a highly paid public relations firm (Leslie Blakey, Washington, DC) to act as the “caring advocate leader.” Then, they acquire citizen victims of RLV fatalities, shamelessly exploiting their pain for financial gain. At least one police chief endorsing cameras reportedly owned stock in the company. How many others? Almost every camera proponent is there for the cash, while pretending to care about safety. I would bet that some reporters were paid as well.
To give the impression that they care about public support (remember NYC, 55) the camera promoters point to biased surveys (polls) which they graciously provide. In 1995, an IIHS poll claimed up to 80% supported red light cameras while only 57% supported photo radar cameras. A 1998 survey by NHTSA reported that 70% approved of both ticket cameras. Fine print revealed that 35% of those polled had not even heard of this technology. Like all camera promoter research the surveys contain numerous biased manipulations and misinterpretations of data. Since cameras CANNOT “save lives” and actually cause more fatalities, any misinformed approval is based upon deception and therefore meaningless. Furthermore, traffic laws are supposed to reflect an 85% ile super majority. This maximizes real safety and greatly enhances compliance. Those under posting speed limits and yellow times are ANTI-SAFETY – whether well intentioned or dishonest.
My friend Greg and I conducted an honest poll at the Boca Raton, Florida red light camera demonstration site (“Traffic Camera Finds Its First Protestors,” Boca Raton News). We interviewed about 300 people. Many people, despite plenty of media reporting, did not know the camera stood right in their midst. After we pointed out the camera, a significant number were shocked or became visibly angry at their government’s actions. Colorful expletives emanated from a number of furious lips. This time the people heard and read facts, not a biased sales pitch. About eight out of ten citizens were against cameras when presented with honest data. Only some senior citizens and housewives seemed convinced that photo enforcement could save lives. Two or three professed their witchhunt mentality. “My brother was almost hit by a red-light runner. I hope they place cameras everywhere to nail those idiots.” While one police officer chided me for having the gall to stand up for my rights as an American, another revealed he disliked cameras.
Camera promoters only care what we think to either exploit favorable (wrong) opinions for cash or to know unfavorable truth and censor it to keep the cash flowing. It’s all about the MONEY. Ticket cameras economic viability is based upon fraud. Cameras can only usurp exorbitant profits (enough for all to share) at improperly engineered traffic signals (too short yellows) or very under posted speed limits. These engineering malpractices already CAUSE more crashes, injuries and fatalities. Ticket cameras further compound the problem causing a double whammy against safety, including 70% or more increases in rear end collisions – some fatal.
My 49 page report, “Camera Enforcement – A Picture of Fraud,” proves - from 7 different angles – that ticket cameras cause MORE fatalities. Since serious RLTC proliferation began in 2001, more than 500 people have died as a result of camera enforcement. All related data supports this fact. Rear-end fatalities rose +12% (+650 from 2001 – 2005 versus 1996 – 2000). ALL fatalities at traffic signals increased +3% (+465 dead). Cameras were supposed to reduce ALL traffic signal crashes, injuries and fatalities. RLV fatal crashes dropped about 11%, before cameras. After RLTCs, they leveled off. However, removing Florida (no cameras) from the statistics would produce an increase in RLV fatalities after cameras. Are corporate/government profits really more important than human life?
These so called “safety advocates” are in reality enforcement (for profit) advocates. Enforcement DOES NOT equal safety as proven by ticket cameras. MONEY motivates their agendas. Almost everything these enforcement advocates get involved in results in more crashes, injuries and fatalities. In all objective honesty, these people are ANTI-SAFETY. They violate other human beings rights, usurp their money and CAUSE more crashes, injuries and fatalities.
Some enforcement advocates may be well intentioned and in denial that the policies they help perpetuate are actually hurting people. However, the camera companies and longtime key players KNOW their products and policies CAUSE more crashes, injuries and fatalities. Most of them received truthful research (from me) refuting their claims. Several camera promoters obtained by book. Congressman Dick Armey’s research concurred with mine and was nationally reported. Labash (Weekly Standard) followed. The National Motorists Association (including me) has revealed the dismal truth about ticket cameras in the news and on TV a multitude of times across the nation. Car and Driver wrote several editorials uncovering all sorts of camera-related deceptions.
Camera promoters and their allies (especially the IIHS) read, know and sometimes begrudgingly admit the truth that ticket cameras CAUSE more crashes. Yet, they freely choose to keep on deceiving the pubic to reap financial profits. This is FRAUD – deceit for gain (Webster’s dictionary). The key players – Camera Companies (ACS, EDS, Redflex, ATS, Mulvihill, etc.) IIHS, NHTSA, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and to some extent the FHwA, have shown a consistent pattern of public deception for financial gain spanning decades. Plenty of government officials, police chiefs, and politicians were willing accessories to rake-in the multitude of cash, while falsely claiming “lives saved.” Much of the general media remains negligent for helping these enforcement for profit advocates establish such wide spread deception.
Now more than 500 people have died (and counting) while thousands more suffer long-term injuries. The only ethical thing to do is dismantle all ticket camera programs permanently.
About the Author
As a traffic safety researcher for the National Motorists Association (since 1992), I have been interviewed by newspapers, magazines, radio and TV news over 130 documented times (google.GregMauz). Thus far, I have been published over 50 times as a free-lance writer. As a professional driver/car enthusiast my driving experience is extensive.
I have written three comprehensive, investigative reports on ticket cameras: “Camera Enforcement-Developing the Factual Picture” (March 2001, 96 pages), “Camera Enforcement A Picture of Fraud” (March 2007, 52 pages, photos, charts) and “Camera Enforcement – How the Fraud Developed” (May 2007, 18 pages). Camera enforcement violates people’s rights and usurps their money while causing more crashes, injuries and fatalities. I will be happy to openly debate any camera promoter if they have the heart to face me.
While I have written numerous, published refutations of “research” by the IIHS, NHTSA, camera promoters and others, nobody can honestly refute my research. So instead, they call me names, hypocritically question my integrity and ignore or censor me (and the American people) because they cannot refute the truth. In addition, they make ludicrous claims about the NMA (www.motorists.org) in attempts to discredit us (and me). Unlike “safety” [ENFORCEMENT] advocates, I have no reason to fudge the truth. The government, police, insurance and camera companies all greatly profit from the multi-billion dollar ticket revenue pie. The mostly unethically obtained money creates self-serving jobs, overtime pay, promotions, bonuses, grants, equipment and pays for buildings, utilities, etc. They have a CLEAR bias and conflict of interest. On the other hand, I receive no compensation for my extensive work.
I do this for JESUS and Country because I truly care about people – their safety and liberty. My wife and I have spent countless hours and thousands of dollars of our own money to bring the truth to the American people, to correct major injustices and hopefully save some lives for real.
Greg Mauz 325-896-2595