Local Group Against Red Light Cameras in Murfreesboro Send WGNS Detailed Press Release On the Subject

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The Old Fort Parkway / Thompson Lane intersection is one of several in Murfreesboro with red light cameras
WGNS Received the following "Press Release" from a local group of citizens in Murfreesboro who tell us they are against Red Light Cameras in our city.  Axl David, who has been on WGNS with Scott Walker in the past to discuss traffic cameras, is the co-founder of Murfreesboro C.A.P.E. David said that C.A.P.E. stands for Citizens Against Photo Enforcement. 

The press release stated (verbatim): 
 
On November 7th at 7:00 PM, the Murfreesboro City Council will be voting to extend the contract with American Traffic Solutions. Currently, the contract with ATS expires November 30, 2013. To our knowledge, a majority "No" vote tomorrow may be the end of red light cameras as we know it in Murfreesboro.

We believe that the evidence is overwhelming that Murfreesboro's red light camera program is wholly ineffective and dangerous. The current program is a grave conflict of interest within a department that we expect the highest level of trust. When we privatize law enforcement functions and incentivize criminal conduct; our safety, civil liberties, economy, and the country's founding principles become collateral damage. Below the body of this message, I will include a portion of a comprehensive report that I authored containing the results of our research that I am sending to the City Council and Mayor. I have never received a red light camera ticket. This is the only objective research available that has not been spin doctored by American Traffic Solutions. Please feel free to directly quote anything in this email.

Unfortunately, because the facts and hard data do not substantiate a safety improvement or reduction in red light running, ATS crafted an emotional appeal and manipulation of data in a 5/9/13 presentation to the Murfreesboro City Council [1]. Part of the emotional appeal included graphic videos of vehicles running red lights at photo enforced intersections.

ATS spends millions of dollars on astroturfing, manipulation, and lobbying activities across the country [2]. Further, they have even admitted to pretending to be local citizens and writing letters to lawmakers and editors of local newspapers in support of red light camera programs [3]. While we do not have the backing of a multimillion dollar corporation, we have done extensive research ourselves through data mining and Freedom of Information Act requests. We would like to share our findings with you. All cited sources will be provided to you upon request.

-Photo Enforced Intersections are More Dangerous


According to the information disseminated by the Murfreesboro Police Department on May 9, between 2008 and 2012, traffic collisions at all signalized intersections in the city declined 11%. However, crashes at photo enforced intersections decreased only 1.1%. This means that, statistically, you are more likely to get into a collision at a photo enforced intersection than one without photo enforcement. This data mirrors the impact of red light camera programs all over the country.

In the same handout, the new system installed in 2011 was referred to as an “improvement” and “reduced collisions overall”. However, in the very same handout, the data shows that collisions at photo enforced intersections actually increased since the new equipment was installed. Worse yet, while side-angle collisions at all signalized intersections decreased 42%, they increased over 32% at photo enforced intersections. The only improvement with the new system is revenue.

When a councilman suggested to Chief Chrisman that the cameras were ineffective at the May 9th City Council Meeting, his response was “I think, uh, you know you would expect, I think, that you would see a certain type of behavior around the intersections that are [photo] controlled and signed, so I don't have a good explanation for that other than to say the data is what it is." 

-Red Light Camera Equipment Malfunctions at an Alarming Rate

Between January 1, 2013 and May 7, 2013, there were 7,206 citations issued to citizens from ATS. In that same time period, 5,061 citations were rejected prior to being issued [4]. Reasons for rejection include “Signal Was Yellow/Green”, “Vehicle Stopped”, and “No Vehicle Present”. That figure does not count rejections due to funeral processions, emergency vehicles, etc.

Essentially, about half of the citations are rejected due to equipment malfunction. This is despite assurances from the police department that the system was reliable. Giving a system that fails this much the benefit of doubt, and placing the burden of proof on the citizens, is poor government at worst, and unconstitutional at best.

-Lucrative Red Light Camera Contracts Favored Over Proven Safety Improvements

There are a multitude of studies that show various improvements having a proven safety impact. Adding flashing amber beacons to warn of a signal ahead, improved visibility of signals, speed breakers, timing of amber and red light phase overlap and so on have a proven safety improvement. Roundabout intersections use no energy, greatly improve traffic flow, are environmentally friendly, and have a near 100% reduction in serious injury and death.

-It's Not a “Voluntary Program”

The photo enforcement system has been referred to as a “voluntary program”, but the facts don't add up. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the registered owner of a vehicle is the driver 75% of the time. Essentially, one in four tickets are issued to someone that is not the driver. Victims are then forced to take a day off work to incriminate someone else, if they know or remember that person and all of their personal information. A member of your family, a mechanic, a friend, anyone could drive your car and trigger a red light camera ticket and you become the victim.

-Red Light Running Has Not Gone Down

In 2010, there were 12,224 citations issued. In 2012, there were 24,257 citations issued, and in 2013, there are projected [5] to be 21,072 citations issued [6]. This clearly suggests that red light running at photo enforced intersections have not gone down. It is worth noting that in 2011, “upgrades” to the photo enforcement system may have had a negligible increase in the ability to catch certain types of violations.

-Citations Issued are Unconstitutional

As of June 2013, Arkansas, Nebraska, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin prohibit red light cameras [7]. Most of these prohibitions are a result of a Supreme Court ruling the cameras unconstitutional. Countless municipal and state courts have also eliminated red light camera programs on constitutional grounds. In New Jersey, American Traffic Solutions agreed to a settlement that will refund motorists fines they paid after receiving a red light camera ticket [8].

[1] Email sent 5/7/13 from ATS to Officer Don Schubert
[2] http://www.sourcewatch.org 
[3] KIRO-FM Seattle 5/20/11
[4] "Murfreesboro Issuance Rate Detail Report", American Traffic Solutions data, 5/7/2013
[5] Utilizing data from January-April and multiplying by three (3)
[6] "Murfreesboro Issued Per Site", American Traffic Solutions data, 5/7/2013
[7] Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “Automated Enforcement Laws” June 2013
[8] “Red-light camera company to pay $4.2 million to NJ motorists” New Jersey Star-Ledge
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Axl David, C.A.P.E., camera, cameras, CAPE, Murfreesboro, red light, red light camera
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