St. Ptb Times: “Put The Brakes On Red light Cams”

September 24, 2009

postitFrom the St. Petersburg Times:

Florida local governments are trying to find new revenues as tax collections decline, but hopefully Tarpon Springs is not so desperate for cash that it will install red light cameras and issue expensive tickets to residents and visitors just to shore up the city budget.

During a recent City Commission budget session, Mayor Beverley Billiris suggested installing red light cameras to provide new revenue, saying, “There are cities making $15,000 a week off those things.” […]

There are even broader concerns about red light cameras.

When it comes to safety, there is not universal agreement that the cameras reduce collisions… If the goal is to reduce intersection crashes, better results are obtained by lengthening the time the light stays yellow as well as building in a slightly longer pause before the cross street’s light turns green. […]

Lawsuits have been filed against local governments because of such issues. Local governments in Florida are among those now fighting lawsuits — and incurring legal fees.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of red light camera use is that local governments may become so dependent on the revenue that they are tempted to toy with traffic light timing to increase the flow of dollars. San Diego and Dallas were accused of shortening the yellow light cycle on traffic lights so more motorists would be caught running red lights. Such behavior belies the claim that the goal is to improve safety.

Read entire article…


ATS Accused of Destroying Records in Florida

September 20, 2009

American Traffic Solutions or Above The Statutes, Inc?

American Traffic Solutions or Above The Statutes, Inc?

American Traffic Solutions, the besieged automated ticketing vendor, is in trouble with the law again in Florida.

Already facing a class-action lawsuit regarding constitutional issues in the Sunshine State, the news now is ATS has violated state law by destroying records:

The Florida Attorney General’s Office says video footage is a public record even if it is collected by a private company, like Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions, if the company is contracted by a government agency.

And officials with the Florida Division of Library and Information Services say companies like that have to comply with the state’s record-retention schedule, which requires that the videos be kept for at least 30 days.

So, how does ATS handle challenges to its ticketing scheme? Blame the client: the city!

ATS and city officials Thursday pointed to each other as the party responsible for maintaining the videos.

But City Attorney Tim McCausland said ATS is the custodian of the records and that the company is responsible for being versed in Florida public records law, which the company agreed to abide by in its contract with the city.

Be warned council members, city managers, mayors, and project administrators: Theft through automated ticketing will always come back to haunt you, and the vendor will be laughing all the way to the bank.

(And re-election is never that far off…)


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