Monday, March 30, 2009

Red-light camera backlash

By comparison, city motorists are handling the red-light cameras in Amarillo rather well compared to a few other places across the country. According to the Wall Street Journal, some are rising up in anger against the camera cops.

Arizona state police started placing the cameras on highways around Phoenix in November. In December, a trooper arrested a man in Glendale while he was attacking a camera with a pick ax.

In another incident, a troupe of men dressed as Santa Claus toured around the city of Tempe in December and placed gaily wrapped boxes over several traffic cameras, blocking their views.

The village of Schaumburg, Ill., installed a camera at Woodfield Mall last November to film cars that were running red lights. The town issued $1 million in fines in just three months.

As for Amarillo, in the more than nine months since red-light cameras were installed at five intersections, more than 13,000 citations have been issued. At $75 a pop, the city has generated more than $975,000.

But drivers caught by the unforgiving enforcement -- which mainly snared those who didn't come to a full stop before turning right on red -- exploded in anger. Many vowed to stop shopping at the mall unless the camera was turned off. The village stopped monitoring right turns at the intersection in January.

Some entrepreneurs are trying to help camera opponents fight back. Phantom Plate Inc., a Harrisburg, Pa., company, sells Photoblocker spray at $29.99 a can and Photoshield, a plastic skin for a license plate. Both promise to reflect a traffic-camera flash, making the license plate unreadable. California passed a law banning use of the spray and the plate covers, which became effective at the beginning of this year.

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