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Speed on Green - Photo Enforcement Discussion group of various photo enforcement technologies including speed on green and automated toll photo enforcement and its potential impact on our individual civil liberties.

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Old 2008-02-01
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Default NMA's Official Response to IIHS Status Report Special Issue: Speed

The National Motorists Association officially responds to the IIHS Status Special Report: SPEED
Reported by Google News, Comments

Original Text Source: Comment by Jim Baxter, President, National Motorists Association

Full-text of Response:

More Ticket Camera Propaganda

The Insurance Institute for Highway Saftey has been promoting ticket cameras for two decades. Their "studies" of ticket camera programs begin with the premise that ticket cameras are effective at reducing red light violations and speed limit violations, then they set out to prove it. The same is true for governments that install these camera's and then reap the financial windfall. If you cut through the disingenuous pronouncements about improving public safety, a farcical claim at best, you will find just another government-corporate scam to exploit the traveling public. Money is the big driver, but there is also an ample dose of the "command and control" mentality common to the social engineering fraternity.

Conveniently forgotten in this rush to punish red light runners and demonic speeders is that this supposed dangerous population has been created by the actions of the governments that now hope to reap the financial rewards of ticket cameras, with a lot of cheering from the sidelines by the likes of the insurance industry. It is extremely well documented that if traffic lights are properly installed, maintained, and operated (meaning timed and synchronized) red light violations virtually disappear. The only way red light ticket cameras can pay off is by ignoring structural, operational and maintenance deficiencies at controlled intersections. The IIHS knows this, but chooses to emphasize ticket cameras because ticket cameras generate tickets. Could it be that the insurance surcharges that follow those tickets influence their preference for ticket cameras over engineering solutions that actually fix the problem?

The same scenario follows for "speeding." If speed limits are routinely set 10 MPH, 15 MPH or 20 MPH below the prevailing (and safe)speeds on a given roadway it stands to reason there will be poor compliance with an arbitrary and counter-productive speed limit. There is 70 years worth of research that proves the safest and most complied with speed limits are those that reflect normal traffic flow. However, no doubt about it, posting a speed limit that is 15 MPH slower than prevailing traffic and putting up a ticket camera will generate bags of cash. Does traffic slow, sure within a couple hundred yards of the camera and perhaps further back because of the rear-end collisions caused by the disruption of traffic. The legitimate and honest solution is to set speed limits that reflect the speed that normal responsible drivers safely travel on any particular roadway.

How bad is this disconnect between speed limits and safe travel speeds, it's bad. Our web site, The Speed Trap Exchange lists a running average of 50,000 to 60,000 operating speed traps in the United States. The average speed limit in the US is posted at the 30th percentile of prevailing speeds, that means 70 percent of the vehicles are exceeding the speed limit. The IIHS and the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would have you believe this is a non-complying driver problem. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is an incompetent, lazy, exploitive governmental problem that covers the entire spectrum from the smallest village to the responsible national agencies.

The disconnect between real day to day driving and dysfunctional traffic laws remains tolerable as long as enforcement is moderate, tolerant and quietly ignores the absurdity of laws like 55 MPH speed limits on highways routinely carrying 70 MPH traffic. However, technology, much of it seemingly modeled from an Orwellian nightmare, is changing the game. Ticket cameras do not exercise judgement, do not take coffee breaks, do not care how absurd a given speed limit may be and they will ingratiate themselves with our "public servants" who are bailing the cash. Once adicted to this easy money it will be almost impossible to convince our "representatives" to pull down the cameras or establish rational traffic laws, for either action will shut off the money. And, after all, that's what it comes back to, that's what it's about, the money.

Jim Baxter, President, National Motorists Association

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