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The Camera Never Lies

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On: Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 9:28AM | By: Clay Ritchings

The Camera Never Lies

While officials in Europe and the United States insist that "the camera never lies," motorists around the world are receiving automated tickets for crimes that they did not commit. Evidently parked cars are triggering the speed cameras and nobody is reviewing the bogus violations before licking the stamp and dropping notices in the mail. This is a breakdown of the whole automated ticket system. The system is only as good as people who have been hired to review the violations, and by the looks of the following reports, they are not being reviewed at all, or by someone who is visually impaired. Could it be that these private companies, like many others, will keep payroll down and run lean? I can only imagine that after an extensive four-minute board meeting, and before they headed out the door for a round of golf, the red light camera suits probably went to each employee and said, “Hey, John Q. Employee, instead of monitoring two cameras at once, you are now going to have four… do the best you can.” If this does not infuriate you yet, read on…

In Liverpool, England, for example, a speed camera accused the Fiat Punto belonging to Emily Davies of traveling at 37 MPH on March 10 at precisely 10:22pm, exceeding the road's 30 MPH limit. Confused, Davies asked to see the photograph of her alleged offense. The Merseyside Speed Camera Partnership, hoping she would just pay the £60 (US $87) fine, insisted she would have to go to court to see it. Upon later review, the photograph showed the Ford parked outside the Davies family home, which is located in view of a speed camera. Although Merseyside officials eventually apologized, Davies first had to go through quite a bit of hassle. "When I first disputed the claim, I was told that mistakes are never made," Davies told London's Daily Mail newspaper. "That's just not true. If this has happened to me, it must be happening to other people. It's a waste of time and money and things should be changed."

It is happening to other people in Laval, France. There, motorist Delphine Joubert has likewise been victimized three times by a speed camera located outside her home. In each case, her car is visible in the ticket photographs—parked, with nobody behind the wheel. "We must always justify ourselves, writing letters" Joubert told Agence France Presse. "I have other things to do. It's harassment." Another resident in the same building complained of receiving twelve speed camera tickets while parked. Despite the pleas of residents, French officials have shown no interest in investigating the speed camera problems.

Jeff Buck parks in front of the camera outside his home on Watnall Road, Nottingham, England, because he does not have a driveway or a garage. But he has been sent two speeding fines by Nottinghamshire Police.The mix-ups happened because officers failed to spot his car was parked as another vehicle triggered the camera by breaking the 30 MPH speed limit. Police have apologised to 55-year-old Mr Buck after he successfully contested the fines.

In Mannheim, Germany, it took a court ruling for officials to investigate questions regarding the accuracy of Poliscan brand speed cameras. The city hired the private firm Dekra to write a report on the speed camera program. As part of a package of information released this week about the program, Dekra found the automated ticketing machines to be "flawless." "In the opinion of experts, there have been no references to incorrect measurements," a press release boasted. "Thus one can infer the proper operation of the present speed measuring systems." Even flawless machinery is subject to the human error of the for-profit firms that operate photo radar in the US.

The issue has become so serious in Arizona that Judge Gerald A. Williams, North Valley Justice of the Peace, published an article calling the photo radar program "an extraordinarily bad idea" that the legislature needs to fix. "At North Valley, part of the problem was due to highway signs, or the lack thereof," Judge Williams wrote. "For a significant period of time, people received tickets for going 66 or 67 in a 55 MPH zone. The problem was that the temporary 55 MPH sign was often after the camera. As such, we have had hundreds of hearing requests. Thus far, drivers in this category have almost always been found not responsible at their hearing."

Are the cameras perfect? Not by a long shot; and the only way to defend yourself is to actually take the time to go to court and plead your case. Then all you get is a disingenuous apology on your way out the door. As you try to figure out how you are going to make up for your lost time and wages so you can make rent, remember the words “the camera never lies”


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