Is it time to reinstall red-light cameras?

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It has been a long time since Speak Up rang off the hook with grumbling complaints about the city’s red-light camera system. But it might be time to revisit the idea, as the city of Fayetteville recently has.

Red-light cameras were fixtures in the 1990s and early 2000s at intersections with high numbers of collisions in Rocky Mount and in other cities around North Carolina. The cameras took pictures of the license plates of drivers who ran red lights. Citations were mailed to the offending drivers, and the money they generated was split between the city of Rocky Mount and the company that operated the system.

That came to a screeching halt, if you’ll pardon the pun, in 2006 when the N.C. Court of Appeals noted that 90 percent of revenue collected for such offenses should be turned over to the local school system, as stated in the N.C. Constitution. As a result, most cities in North Carolina unplugged the devices.

While many of us had our issues with Big Brother’s cameras, there was little doubt that the system worked. Accident rates declined at intersections with cameras, and the money collected from violators was a windfall for the city.

Fast-forward to 2014 and we learn that the city of Fayetteville has come up with an innovative way to reinstate the cameras – and help fund the local schools system. Fayettevlle petitioned the N.C. General Assembly for local legislation that would allow the city to once again take pictures and collect fines.

Under the new arrangement, 90 percent of the money collected from fines goes to Cumberland County Schools. The schools system sends the city of Fayetteville enough money to cover the cost of operations.

With Twin Counties schools systems facing a money crunch almost every year, maybe it’s time to reconsider red-light 
cameras for Rocky Mount.

Comments

Suing Fayetteville, Wilmington, Raleigh

The City of High Point was sued for this 2006. High Point lost in NC Court of Appeals case "Shavitz vs City of High Point." High Point had to pay millions of dollars to the schools from its own coffers because it had already given the millions to the red light camera vendor. In fear of getting sued, Rocky Mount, Fayetteville and many other cities terminated their programs immediately. Wilmington and Wake County cities retained their programs thus tempting fate. It takes one person who has the courage to sue, who is in legal standing to do so (got a red light camera ticket, appealed it and lost), to file a lawsuit. *** The only way a city is going to drop its cash cow is if someone sues. To think otherwise is naïve. The only exception to this rule is Knightdale. Knightdale has an honorable government.

The System Never Worked

The innovative way Fayetteville came up with is called "money laundering." Their new law (H1151, Sec 3) still violates higher law: NC Constitution and NCGS 115C-437. The NC Constitution has always declared that the money must go "exclusively" to the schools. That hasn't changed. There is a reason. The drafters of the Constitution did not want Cities to turn criminal making into a profitable business. ***A "windfall" for the city? At $50 a ticket, the red light camera vendors receive over 82% of the gross fines from Raleigh and Wilmington. Cary and Rocky Mount paid more than 90% to the private vendor. Knightdale paid 95%! A pittance was left over for the schools. ***And the system did not work at all. It never did. It still doesn't. In Raleigh, according to IIHS, the presence of the cameras increased fatalities by 200%. Even now, Raleigh itself reports an increase of rear-end crashes by 32%. All cities report an increase of rear-end crashes! All of them! ***The biggest problem is NCDOT's engineering practices. By shorting the yellow light duration under that required by physics, the NCDOT forces millions of drivers to run red lights every day. A yellow light has to have enough time in it, for a driver who no longer has the distance to stop, to reach the intersection before the light turns red. The NCDOT fails miserably at this. In the end, NCDOT sets up drivers to fail. Cities prosecute. It is called entrapment. The engineering problem and the engineers who create the problem are now under investigation by the NC Board of Engineers, even as I write this. ***For more information, read http://redlightrobber.com.

Excellent Response

Fayetteville should be sued along with the school system for their illegal activities.

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