5/22/2010Traffic Camera Accuracy, Legal Problems Proliferate Worldwide
Officials in the US, UK and Australia are forced to refund inaccurate or illegally issued red light camera and speed camera tickets.
In the past week, thousands of vehicle owners across the US, England and Australia will receive refunds after officials admitted that the automated citations they received were either bogus or issued contrary to law. In Virginia Beach, Virginia, the red light cameras operated by Redflex Traffic Systems were ticketing drivers who stopped before turning right on red. Despite making perfectly legal and safe turns at Independence Boulevard and Bonney Road, vehicle owners were receiving tickets from the Australian company, WVEC-TV reported. Virginia Beach police claimed that they "reviewed" every citation before it was mailed, yet they failed to prevent innocent owners from being ticketed.
A Hagerstown, Maryland woman was issued a ticket by American Traffic Solutions of Arizona on March 17 for allegedly running a red light on March 17 in Washington, DC. Pearl Myers owns a blue Saturn and never drives in the District. The ticket showed a Volkswagen with a blurry license plate that shared all but one letter with the plate on the Myers Saturn. Myers filed a challenge and was told it would take "up to six months" for a ruling. The bogus ticket was rescinded after the Herald-Mail newspaper intervened.
A motorist in Buckinghamshire, England battled the speed camera ticket that charged him with driving 40 MPH in a 30 zone on Denham Green Lane on June 16, 2009. Instead of merely accepting the £60 fine, Graham Lee, 37, braved the risk of a judicially imposed fine of £1000 and a lengthy driving ban that the UK legal system threatens to discourage court challenges. Lee ordered the video evidence of his alleged crime -- which he had to drive 200 miles away from home to view. According to the Bucks Free Press, error codes were recorded on the video that did not appear in the still photograph that accompanied his ticket. As a result of his discovery, charges were finally dropped.
A total of 260 vehicle owners in Seattle, Washington were accused of "speeding" in a school zone, despite being nowhere near a school. The letters were sent as part of a temporary warning period before the actual citations of up to $247 are issued by American Traffic Solutions, an Arizona-based firm. When ticket recipients called to complain about the error, they were ignored until the Seattle Times intervened.
In Liverpool, England, innocent drivers of milk delivery vehicles are being constantly pulled over and interrogated due to a fault in the Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera system. The low-speed electric vehicles do not need the annual "MOT" vehicle safety test under the law. Since they are relying solely on the alert of the camera to look for easy tickets to issue, police end up stopping and ticketing milkmen who are operating within the law.
Often the speed cameras claiming to punish lawbreakers are themselves breaking the law. In Queensland, Australia, over 1145 vehicle owners received speed camera tickets issued in violation of the law from cameras mounted in the financially troubled Clem7 toll tunnel. All tickets from the opening of the tunnel to May 17 will be refunded. At an average of A$150 per ticket, the total cost is expected to be $172,000. According to the Brisbane Times, all cameras must be tested manually for accuracy. The Clem7 system relied on a "self-test" mechanism whereby the speed camera certified itself as accurate.
In West Palm Beach, Florida, officials unanimously decided to refund the $150 red light camera tickets issued to the owners of vehicles that made safe right-hand turns on red, the Palm Beach Post reported. The change of heart followed issuance of a right-turn tickets to the mayor and two other commissioners who believed them to be unfair as well as the ruling of a special master earlier this month throwing out all twenty-four challenged tickets because the citations failed to obey the city ordinance requiring a description of the make and model of the vehicle.