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California, Missouri, Texas, Australia: Accuracy and Legal Problems for Speed Cameras

February 27, 2010

California, Missouri, Texas, Australia: Accuracy and Legal Problems for Speed Cameras
Red light and speed cameras issue tickets to innocent drivers while some cities ignore the law in implementing automated ticketing. 

Narrabeen  speed cameraThe Roads and Traffic Authority of New South Wales, Australia has admitted to another major speed camera blunder to the Manly Daily newspaper. A faulty camera sensor on Pittwater Road in North Narrabeen produced false readings and resulted in at least 900 innocent motorists receiving A$159 tickets in the mail. Officials only investigated after receiving complaints from drivers in January that the citations being issued were bogus. After confirming the error, the RTA agreed to cancel license points and refund $143,000 worth of citations to those affected. Since 2008, the Pittwater Road cameras have generated A$2,807,578 in revenue.

Another refund may be on the way to South San Francisco, California residents. After having been forced to refund $1.4 million worth of tickets for failing to abide by state contracting laws in its deal with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to operate red light cameras, the city fell into a second legal trap. Although ATS restarted the mailing of camera tickets on January 27, California law requires a 30-day warning period before tickets may be issued — and there was no warning period after the 27th. The state supreme court upheld a court case that found tickets issued without this warning period were void. Observers suggest the city has ignored other aspects of state law and may face additional court challenges.

An innocent woman in Queen Creek, Missouri was falsely accused of running a red light on January 17 in St. Peters, Missouri. Connie Buckallew received the $85 citation in the mail and noticed the car in the photo did not belong to her and that she could not possibly have committed the violation. She spent hours on the phone trying to resolve the situation but found no resolution on her own. She called KTVO-Television, and after the local station reported on the situation, officials finally decided to help cancel the bogus ticket. The Missouri Department of Revenue blamed “clerical error” after accidentally registering someone else’s car in Buckallew’s name. Although photo enforcement supporters insist every ticket is reviewed by a trained police officer, nobody compared the driver in the ticket photograph to Buckallew’s driver’s license photo.

In Harlingen, Texas, motorists are being ticketed for making right hand turns on red beyond the appropriate stop line at the intersection of Highway 77 and Ed Casey Drive. The problem, KRGV-Television reported, is that the lines are so worn out that they are not visible to drivers. Harlingen officials voted to terminate photo enforcement on March 26.

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