Miami, which counted on $10 million in fines from motorists caught on camera running red lights, is planning to furlough some workers in part because penalties didn’t come close to forecasts as drivers began obeying the law.
Houston, where voters banned cameras in November, will receive about $10 million less than anticipated and faces a potential claim from supplier American Traffic Solutions Inc. for canceling a contract. The Los Angeles Police Commission voted last month to let its agreement with American Traffic expire, citing the expense.
Since cameras began spying on motorists in the late 1980s, they’ve faced lawsuits challenging their constitutionality, been banned in voter initiatives and restricted by legislation. That hasn’t stopped U.S. cities from deploying them: The number of municipalities with cameras has doubled to 539 since 2007, according to the Washington-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
“This is about money and not about safety,” Ted Hollander, a Fort Lauderdale attorney who defends people charged with traffic offenses, said in an interview.
Redflex Holdings Ltd. (RDF), a South Melbourne, Australia-based camera supplier, successfully defended itself against lawsuits challenging its product in 10 states last year and legislation that would ban them in six, according to its annual report.
An Arizona employee of the company was shot and killed while monitoring a speed-detecting camera in 2009.
Imagine that. They actually worked too well, and the cost of having them is starting to exceed the revenues generated, despite some 2000 localities having these things around. Talk about unintended consequences.
There's no doubt cities put these up to make money. Anyone who tells you different is lying. But motorists don't often run red lights when these things are around. Maybe people are driving smarter. Maybe gas costs mean people are driving less or relying on public transportation more. But these cameras aren't the gold mines cities thought they'd be...they're more like land mines.