Nanny State

The Monkeys vs. the Red-Light Machines


The Washington Post Style section, when not producing in-house fisticuffs or front-page examinations of A-Rod's snot, is capable of some useful reporting. Such as within this feature today on red-light cameras:

A handful of cities used them a decade ago. Now they're in more than 400, spread across two dozen states. Montgomery County started out with 18 cameras in 2007. Now it has 119. Maryland just took the program statewide last month, and Prince George's is putting up 50. The District started out with a few red light cameras in 1999; now they send out as many automated tickets each year as they have residents, about 580,000. […]


Red-light or speed cameras or both are banned in all or part of 14 states. The Republican governor of Mississippi kicked them out of the Magnolia State earlier this year. The Democratic governor of Montana did the same in July. Sulphur, La., put the issue to a vote in April—and 86 percent of the populace voted to get rid of them. […]

Nationwide, there have been something like 11 elections on automated enforcement. Your vote total: Revolting Peasants 11, Machines 0.  […]

One guy who lives outside of Phoenix, Dave Vontesmar, hated the cameras so much he put on a monkey mask to drive to work every day, to keep the front-facing cameras from identifying him. Racked up 37 tickets that could amount to $6,500 in fines. Says the state can't prove it's him, which it has to do in his state. […]

Fairfax County, which got rid of its cameras several years ago, saw bigger reductions of fatal accidents than Montgomery County did with its cameras—fatal traffic accidents were down in Fairfax by 19 percent in 2007 and another 46 percent in 2008. (The cameras have since been reinstalled at several intersections in Northern Virginia.)

Fatalities in Montgomery County's camera zones, meanwhile, inched up, from two to three. Pedestrians struck by cars went up, too, from a four-year average of 15 to 22 last year.)

Reason on red-light cameras here.