Ever since various municipalities began the widespread deployment of red light cameras at trafffic intersections in the 1990s, government officials in those jurisdictions have claimed the use of the cameras to catch alleged scofflaws and issue them tickets with heavy fines attached, had nothing to do with raising revenues. Whenever criticized for the privacy-invasive or other constitutional infirmities with such techniques, government advocates of the cameras invariably would declare that the cameras were put in place and maintained solely for safety purposes. Yeah, sure.
Now, if anyone still doubts that local governments use red light cameras to raise revenue, all they have to do is read that a number of jurisdictions, including Gwinnett County in suburban Atlanta, Georgia, are curtailing their deployment of the devices because — are you ready for this — they “no longer pay for themselves.” In other words, the number of tickets and fines generated by the red light cameras is insufficient to justify their continued deployment, so governments are discontinuing their use. One local elected official in Lilburn, Georgia, was quite frank about the matter, stating for the newspaper that, “when you build your budget around those sources of revenue [red light cameras], it’s difficult.”
As a long-time opponent of red light cameras, I am delighted some jurisdictions are moving away from such techniques for generating income. It’s also nice to see that at least some government officials are now being honest about why they used the cameras; better late than never, I suppose.
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