Legendary talk show host Jay Leno views speed cameras as one of the reasons the UK no longer feels like a free country. Appearing Sunday on the top-rated BBC show Top Gear, Leno suggested that as a visitor, the number of cameras in England is overwhelming. He also suggested that US drivers have a much less tolerant attitude toward photo enforcement.
"See in L.A., people would say, 'why not just shoot them out?'" Leno said. "In L.A., a day doesn't go by you don't see a styrofoam cup stuck over the lens of the speed camera."
The line about shooting speed cameras drew both laughter and great applause from the crowd. Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson even appeared momentarily surprised at his counterpart's suggestion of vigilantism.
The US public has become increasingly aggressive against the use of automated ticketing machines. A pair of Montgomery County, Maryland photo radar units this week found themselves covered with spraypaint. One unit had its lens covered with red paint and the second had black paint cover two lens squares and a straight line offering something of the look of a smiley face. The speed cameras were installed to issue tickets to the visitors of a nearby country club located on Seven Locks Road. A similar incident was reported in the state of Arizona over the weekend. A member of Camerafraud.com snapped a photo of a speed camera on State Route 51 that had its lens covered in black spraypaint (view photo).
UK vigilantes, however, have been far from inactive. This week a speed camera in Kent on the A21 just before the bridge near Tonbridge was set on fire and destroyed. Although Leno referred to speed cameras being defeated with styrofoam cups, he was actually referring to red light cameras. California law prohibits the use of cameras to issue speeding tickets. San Jose was the last city in the Golden State to give up on photo radar in 2007 after a court ruling chastised local officials for defying the law.