Friday, January 16, 2009

AZ: Get Rid of the Speed Cameras!

Governor Napolitano last year used an Executive Order to load the Arizona highways with speed cameras, which is a major violation of individual Freedom & Privacy, not to mention the safety hazards they create. Luckily we have a few options at our disposal to dispose of them post haste which I'll share in a moment.

The speed cameras cause dangerous road conditions in multiple ways. First of all they cause people to drive excessively slow for conditions, often slamming on their brakes or driving 5 to 15 miles BELOW the speed limit. Having such huge variations in traffic speeds can cause accidents. To throw alcohol on the fire, the flash at night is so intensely bright that it blinds dozens of motorists who then have to try to stay on the road while blind without crashing before their eyes can readjust to the darkness.

They are also an invasion of privacy. The car is an extension of the home, and people have a reasonable expectation that they can travel without having their photo taken by Uncle Sam. How many people drive with their hair a mess or in their scroungy clothes thinking nobody they know will see them? Nobody wants their photo taken on a bad hair day or while in their PJ's.

Add to that what we've all seen in the movies - a Federal agent, a Terrorist, or a paid spy accesses government databases to track down a particular car based on computer recognition of a license plate number. I'm not saying that the technology to utilize existing speed & red light running cameras for this purpose is widely adopted yet, but text recognition technology does exist. For example I know that the police already have the capability to drive through a parking lot or down a freeway & scan all of the license plates to look for anything of interest to them. The only thing required is the computer horsepower to chew through all the available raw video which at the present rate of technological advancements couldn't be far away if it isn't already in use.

There are at least 3 ways we can work to get rid of this government intrusion:

  1. Ask Jan Brewer to make the removal of the cameras her first order of business once she becomes our Governor.
  2. Sign the petition to put it up for a vote to the people - see event listings at
  3. Contact your Arizona Senator & House Representatives to ask them to support Representative Sam Crump's bill HB2106 to ban the cameras on all Freeways & Highways in AZ.
More here on the petition to bring it up for a vote. More here on the legislation.

If you've already been flashed, you may find the book Smile for the Speed Camera:Photo Radar Exposed by Susan Kaylar helpful.

Update 1: A reader contacted me about a product called the Loover. Looks like an interesting way to assert privacy from the cameras on poles while still keeping the plate clearly visible from all sides for Police Officers in vehicles. I have not yet tried the product but it may be worth a look as a temporary privacy measure until we get rid of the cameras.

Today I participated in the west side sign waving & signature gathering event. It was a lot of fun to see how much support we had, people honking, giving a thumbs up, and asking where they can go to sign the petition. Chanel 3 news did a story on the event. If like myself you'd like to see the cameras go, consider signing up to participate in a future event.

Update 2: Cameras make mistakes, and assume you're guilty until you prove yourself innocent.

Update 3: Minnesota Camera Ticket Victims Refunded 2.6 Million for lack of due process! Excerpt from the Minnesota Supreme Court Decision:
The court also struck down the "rebutable presumption" doctrine that lies at the heart of every civil photo enforcement ordinance across the country.

"The problem with the presumption that the owner was the driver is that it eliminates the presumption of innocence and shifts the burden of proof from that required by the rules of criminal procedure," the court concluded. "Therefore the ordinance provides less procedural protection to a person charged with an ordinance violation than is provided to a person charged with a violation of the Act. Accordingly, the ordinance conflicts with the Act and is invalid."
Update 4: American Traffic Systems (ATS) Scamera Employee threatens to send 2 bogus speeding citations if citizen doesn't "respect" his so-called authority!

Update 5: HB2106, which would ban speed cameras on all of Arizona's highways is being heard in the Arizona Legislature Transportation Committee on Thursday, January 22nd, at 9am. The hearing will be in Hearing Room #3 at the Arizona House of Representatives. If you would like to come to the hearing in person, please do so. Furthermore, your testimony in support of the bill would be welcome.

If you cannot attend in person, you should submit your testimony via the Request to Speak system: http://alistrack.azle...

You can also watch the proceedings via the Internet. Simply go to and click on the "Live Proceedings" next to the camera. On the next page you should click on "Hearing Room 3".

Update 6: An Arizona Judge has thrown out over 300 photo tickets as unconstitutional. We just need the State to challenge his decision for it to go up to the next level before his decision would apply State wide. Apparently they're afraid to, with good reason.

Update 7: Although HB2106 made it through committee the House leadership refused to allow the bill to go to the floor for a vote, thus killing the bill.


Anonymous said...

How about this...
Don't speed. Don't drive drunk. And if you go out of your house in your "P.J.'s" or with "bad hair" or otherwise unprepared for the day at hand, then you deserve the public ridicule you get for acting so foolishly.

Dustin said...

Anonymous: What does drunk driving have to do with speed cameras? I never said anything about the crime of driving excessively fast for road conditions as determined by a prudent person, but now that you bring it up the cameras are not set up to enforce the law as defined in Arizona. You see, when a Police officer pulls someone over they have made the observation that a driver is going too fast for conditions. In the case of these cameras all they do is decide that someone going 75 is driving a safe speed, but someone going 76 is not.

Computers are not capable of rational thought, they just do what they're programmed to do.

Mike W. said...

"Computers are not capable of rational thought, they just do what they're programmed to do."

Which is of course to generate revenue.

And how long before these speed cameras get used for more privacy violations in the name of "public safety?" Ever seen the CCTV system in the UK?

Anonymous said...

It's me Shawn. Rememebr me? I hate the cameras too. I believe they are a danger to public saftey and only exist to make money and invade privacy. I will e-mail the govenor about this too. I'm actaully amazed people havent started destroying them. I have learned of some pretty original ideas to wreck them.

Dustin said...

Hi Shawn. Yes, in fact there have been at least three camera attacks that I have heard of. One fellow in December did several thousand dollars of damage to the camera housing with an ax. Another fellow attacked a camera with a pick ax. There have also been sticky note camera attacks.

Anonymous said...

The Brits have these cameras all over the place on their roads and have come up with some interesting ways to decorate them. I've heard that saran wrap over the lens and flash is a good one. The video feed is not disabled but the flash photos don't work due to the plastic.

Anonymous said...

The revenue generated from the speed cameras is garbage and it does not outweigh the cost. They also create hazzards of people either slamming on thier brakes when getting near a camera and then speeding back up or driving UNDER the posted limit, which is VERY dangerous.

There is a recent survey released that states that 63% or registered voters support the speed cameras. Funny thing is....guess who did the survey? The company who is selling this garbage.

Any other poll (online, news investigation, etc.) has shown that this is TOTALLY FALSE. Most residents DO NOT support them. They do however support red-light cameras.

Just another way to rob taxpayers of thier money.

Shame on you American Traffic Solutions.

If you would like to contact them:

Josh Weiss,
Director of Communications and Public Affairs

Anonymous said...

Wanna support taking the cameras DOWN?