Photo-Enforcement Cameras Grow in Use, Continue to Stir Controversy
SCOTTSDALE, AZ --- This week, American Traffic Solutions Inc. (ATA), a leading provider of red-light and speed camera programs in the U.S. and Canada, announced it had installed its 1,000th photo-enforcement camera.
More than 500 additional cameras are under contract and in various stages of installation, the company added.
ATS provides photo traffic enforcement programs to a number of major cities, including New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., St. Louis, San Diego, Seattle, Houston, Ft. Worth, Irving (TX), Arlington (TX), New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa (AZ), Glendale (AZ), and Scottsdale (AZ). Canada's largest digital red-light camera and speed enforcement program in Calgary, Alberta, is also among ATS' clients.
This latest milestone illustrates how more and more cities have come to rely on photo traffic enforcement programs -- from ATS and other providers. But despite this expansion, these programs continue to stir controversy. Debate continues on whether the cameras are a trap or a safety benefit.
In Maryland, for example, Gov. Martin O'Malley has made expanding the use of speed cameras a legislative priority, according to a report by Gazette.net. The cameras are currently allowed just in the state's Montgomery County. A state bill (SB 277) seeks to give local governments the right to install speed-enforcement cameras.
Supporters have argued that the cameras motivate drivers to slow down. In Montgomery County, accidents have dropped between 5 and 25 percent on roads with cameras, county police have argued. But opponents have countered that the cameras raise concerns about fairness and privacy.
Also, the revenue-raising aspect of these programs has entered into the debate. Such cameras brought in $11.1 million in citations during the last fiscal year in Montgomery County, producing about $5.8 million in net revenue, Gazette.net reported. The remainder of the money went to the companies operating and maintaining the camera systems.
The proposed legislation in Maryland would require governments to use speed-enforcement camera profits only on pedestrian and traffic safety improvements.
One of the bill's supporters is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit, insurance industry-supported group that conducts crash tests, researches traffic safety issues, and lobbies for stricter traffic safety laws.