Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Bill Presented in Congress that Would Band DC Speed Cameras, Discourage State Programs

WTOP reports that a bill has been introduced in congress that would limit the use of speed and red light cameras in DC

"Two outgoing House Republicans have put forward a bill that would run the oft-reviled cameras out of town.
The Safer American Streets Act prohibits the "use of automated traffic enforcement systems in the District of Columbia."
It specifically bans the use of the cameras and the information they obtain.
Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, and Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, R-Michigan, put the bill forward.

In addition to banning DC speed cameras, one provision of Stockman's bill would withhold 10 percent of certain federal aid highway funds from any state or local government that uses automated traffic enforcement systems.

DC Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton opposed the measure, and asserted that "I can only think that they must have been caught by one of the red-light cameras or one of the speed cameras,"  without providing evidence to support her conclusion (other than the general presumption of guilt which photo enforcement advocates typically demonstrate).  However Delegate Norton Holmes admitted that she had been caught by a photo enforcement system herself.

DC's speed cameras recently came under criticism by their own Inspector General, who reported that the city's speed camera and parking ticket programs placed the burden of proof on motorists, that the city lacked a conclusive way to determine which vehicle was speeding, and that the city's training manual "instructs reviewers to accept violations and issue tickets in certain instances where the type of vehicle captured in the ATE images does not comport with information obtained through MPD’s search of vehicle registration".   Photo enforcement programs have come under fire in other jurisdictions such at Chicago, where the former CEO of the city's red light camera contractor was indicted for bribery, and also in Baltimore where the program was shut down after it was revealed that the city was systematically issuing erroneous citations to innocent motorists based on false speed readings due to a phenomenon called "radar effects".  Last month voters in three US jurisdictions rejected photo enforcement programs in popular referendums by overwhelming majorities.  Out of 34 referendums conducted on red light and speed cameras in the US so far, voters rejected cameras 31 times (91%).

Read Text of HR 5755