Over the past two decades, advocates have argued the main advantage of a speed camera is that the machines never lies. Most states codify this belief with a legal presumption that the automated citation is accurate and it is up to the defendant to prove otherwise. In Baltimore, Maryland last week a leading speed camera vendor made the unprecedented admission that the technology frequently lies, but obvious examples of false readings slipped through the process due to "human error."
Photocopy giant Xerox, which recently acquired Affiliated Computer Services, has been rocked by accusations that motorists who diligently observed the speed limit were nonetheless receiving photo radar tickets in the mail. Xerox had no choice but to conduct a review under heavy pressure from local politicians.
"In a limited number of cases, radar effects can occur," Xerox regional program manager Ryan Nicolas wrote in a December 11 letter to the city. "Radar effects are caused by reflection, refraction and absorption, and can be identified and eliminated during the review process. Based on a review of the images alone, we identified five locations that demonstrated higher incidents of radar effects than is typical and need further investigation to determine the root cause. All of these errors are identifiable by reviewing the images, which means they can be addressed as exceptions during the review process."