Ex-Judge & Missouri DWI Attorney Helps City’s Red-Light Cameras Go Dark, Says All Cameras Must Go
PR Log - Jan 22, 2013 - ST. LOUIS, MO -- Last week Missouri Senator Will Kraus made headlines when he introduced a bill requiring all proceeds from red-light cameras to be dedicated to area schools, and it didn't take red-light camera expert Mike Carter long to get in touch with the Senator to offer his congratulations and support.
In 2009, Wentzville Mayor Paul Lambi said Carter's election as Municipal Judge in his city was because of Carter’s known displeasure with red-light cameras. Ultimately, Carter’s efforts led to Wentzville’s cancelling its red-light camera contract with Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc.
“I know first-hand that there are only two possible reasons why a city would put red-light cameras in place: misinformation about safety, or, more normally, a revenue grab. Regardless, the result is indirect taxation, robbery of our constitutionally protected right to privacy, and the massive reduction of meaningful police interaction with the public," said Carter. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_R0Mk8bL4A
Carter goes on to explain that the cities with red-light cameras in place don't seem to have any real idea about how much of an impact on safety red-light cameras can have. "For example, if you look at the City of Columbia's website, it says that nationwide more than 9,000 crashes a year are caused by persons running red lights. On the other hand, the City of St. Peters says that there are over 200,000 injuries annually caused by red-light crashes. Neither one of these municipalities cites its sources, but no matter how you do the math, it's pretty clear that at least one of these cities has to be dead wrong about its data."
Some data that isn't wrong raises even more questions about the safety effects of red-light cameras. The Federal Highway Administration's website says that the most comprehensive survey that has been done shows that while red-light cameras decreased right-angle crash injuries (T-Bone) by 16%, those same cameras resulted in an increase in rear-end crash injuries by 24%.
"It isn't just the money grab and unreliable safety statistics that make red-light cameras such a menace. It's the resulting out-right privacy invasion that is most troublesome. While I was a judge, I heard more than once about what the future holds. It’s actually a traffic-camera-company pitch to police agencies -- rolling back camera footage to see who passed through what intersections at specific times throughout a day, week, or month. That kind of big-brother intrusion goes against everything this country stands for."
"Safety is always a concern, and there are a number of things cities can do that will improve traffic safety without intruding on the privacy of its citizens. The Federal Highway Administration suggests things like improving signal visibility, earlier warning signs so people know they're approaching a stop, eliminating unwarranted signals, improving signal conspicuity, and changing yellow signal lengths. None of these would increase rear-end crashes and none would interfere with our constitutional rights. It is incumbent on me to constantly spread the word that the government is not a big caring teddy bear at the helm of our lives; rather, it's often power-hungry, ambitious, bureaucratic types that think they know more than the rest of us."
______ Mike Carter is an independent-minded citizen/lawyer that values prohibiting governments' intrusion into citizens' privacy above nearly all else. He is a former judge, real estate attorney, corporate counsel, Director at the St. Louis Board of REALTORS and Senior Lecturer at the University of Missouri St. Louis. In 2009, during Carter's tenure as municipal judge in the City of Wentzville, Carter fought a bad DWI charge and was found innocent of driving while intoxicated in nine minutes by a jury. As an attorney, judge, and former defendant he knows the entire process intimately.