Mknac’s Weblog

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Highway Robbery

An article in the local paper reminded me of a local government program I loathe.  As you may be aware our so-called Montgomery County and Gaithersburg City governments, foolishly elected by us, has taken to robbing citizens of their cash while driving on local roads.

Gaithersburg, MD Safe Speed

Gaithersburg, MD Safe Speed

I will not vote for and urge my fellow residents not to vote to re-elect Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett,  Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney A. Katz or any members of the Montgomery County Council or Gaithersburg City Council who voted for or support the use of speed cameras.

These devices are schemed by our tax and spend governments under the disguise of some vehicular safety program to pour money into the coffers of the government and their contractors.  See Montgomery County’s and Gaithersburg’s deception plan here called the “Safe Speed Program.”

But we all know that the real reason for these devices is to fleece the residents, commuters and visitors of their money. Our faceless local government bureaucrats are salivating as they dream about how to spend your money from speed camera tickets on their local pork barrel projects that benefit contractors.

The reason speed cameras are nothing but a highway robber tool or perhaps a driver TAX or FEE is because these devices do not modify driver behavior.  For example, if somebody is speeding and runs through one of these robbery traps the device is activated and the person keeps on driving at the same speed.  How was safety increased?  It wasn’t because the speed of the vehicle in a “dangerous area” was not slowed by the speed camera.  No behavior was modified.  Nobody’s driving behavior is modified getting a speeding ticket two weeks later.

Of course the government will always justify speed cameras by producing a report prepared by their contractor and most likely an extra study from the speed camera manufacturer that they say shows that the use of speed cameras reduces vehicle speed.  Are you really going to believe a report from the contractors benefiting from the goverment using these devices against its citizens?  Could a report paid for by the government (from your taxes) from a contractor benefiting from the use of speed cameras be fair and objective?  I don’t believe these studies, do you?  It is in the contractor’s self interest to conclude that speed cameras supposedly reduce vehicle speed.

Additionally see this question from the “Safe Speed Program” Frequently Asked Questions:
“Q: What is the fine?
A: Violators must pay a $40 fine. Since the violations are being treated as civil and not criminal violations, there are no license points assigned and vehicle insurance providers are not notified of the citation.”

Where Gaithersburg says they are using Speed Cameras.

Where Gaithersburg says they are using Speed Cameras.

By not assessing points or notifying your insurance they are encouraging you to just pay the fine and move on to other issues.  They know that if they were to assess points to your driver’s license these hundreds of thousands of tickets would be contested in court.  But what they really are doing is tricking you into paying the fine rather than fight it.

According to the Examiner’s article “Monthly speed cameras nab 20,00 per month” 178,000 people have received tickets since our local governments started using these devices against us nine months ago.

As usual our state and local governments refuse to live within a reasonable budget for their tax base.  In these economic times our local Montgomery County and Gaithersburg City governments would rather find a new revenue stream from the citizen’s pockets than make the governmental decisions to reduce unneeded services and pet projects.

Of course they’ll say the same old tired Government-PR-Speak that speed cameras are for our safety.  If caught off their talking points our elected officials will fall back on something like they want to keep the high quality services we have here.

I’d rather see our local government cut un-needed programs, reduce duplicate programs, cut program office creep and find new efficiencies rather than find a new way to tax /fee/rob and spend.  I’ve lived in several states that didn’t have all the taxes and fees that Maryland has.  Yes, they had sales taxes and other ways to generate money for local government.  But overall I’d say the tax rate was less and their services were as good or better than Montgomery County’s and Gaithersburg’s.

I’m sure our community would survive without the revenue stream from speed cameras.  But like a addict and their drug of choice they can’t resist.  In this case the addict is local government and the drug is your money.  Something government always wants and finds new ways to separate from you to them.

And no I haven’t received a speed camera ticket from Montgomery County or Gaithersburg…yet. But I did get one in DC about 6 months ago for going 36 in a 25 zone.  And yes I took the easy way out and paid my fine on-line to avoid the hassle.  If there are no points why fight it?  Just like our governments planned and wanted.

But I’m a REGISTERED VOTER, who actually VOTES.  And I WILL VOTE AGAINST EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM IN THE NEXT ELECTION, even if the challenger supports speed cameras just to get them out.

Just to be clear I am not advocating for reckless driving or speeding.  I see crazy things on the DC area roads all the time.  The majority of drivers operate their vehicles in a safe manner minding their driving skills and traffic conditions.  If the real goal is to lower speed limits in a dangerous area, a police car sitting on the side of the road will do that.  A speed camera will not.

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July 30, 2008 - Posted by | social media | , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Comments »

  1. I’m not sure if your ‘blog’ is more comical or sad. First of all, you were stopped for SPEEDING whether it was from an officer or a camera, YOU were SPEEDING!!! And, not just 5 miles over the limit but 9!!!!!!!! How many miles OVER the speed limit are we supposed to allow you? 20? 40? I don’t know your age but your attitude seems to be that of the average 35-45 year old who thinks the laws are unfair because you got CAUGHT!! Do you not think this is funny??
    Actually, I’d be embarrassed to publicly say what you’ve said. Would you prefer to increase our police patrol for every camera? Would you be willing to pay for it? And, if so, how much? I have a funny feeling it wouldn’t be $40. I don’t ‘blog’ normally, but it seems more people expect their behavior to be accepted even though they really are WRONG!! Don’t you understand that?

    Comment by Kate | September 22, 2008 | Reply

  2. Kate:

    You missed the point of the entire blog post. I don’t oppose speed cameras because I received a speed camera ticket in DC some six months ago; a fact that I clearly said in my post for all to read.

    I opposed speed cameras because local government uses these devices in the name of safety but the real reason is that local government and their contractors want the money generated by the speed cameras. In truth neither our local government or their profiting contractors care about public safety as related to speed cameras. They only want your money.

    Additionally speed cameras don’t reduce the speed of the vehicle that triggers the device so how are speed cameras improving safety by reducing the speed of vehicles?

    If you really think speed cameras are about safety consider these statistics from the “Examiner”: 178,000 fellow citizens have been robbed by Montgomery County’s and the City of Gaithersburg’s use of these devices at $40 a piece. Come on Kate smell the coffee.

    If our government were to use these devices to reduce speed I’d support it. How’s about our local government place a sign 500 feet before a speed camera zone saying there is a speed camera zone ahead. I bet that would reduce speed in a so called dangerous area. But our local government won’t do that. Why do you think that is Kate; that’s right they want the money generated by the speed camera?

    Just so you know I do support red light cameras. It’s a different situation than speed cameras.

    Also as I stated in my post I do not support speeding or reckless driving. Finally I was going 36 in a 25 mph zone that’s 11 mph not 9. I was not stopped, I received a ticket in the mail some two weeks after the event. I paid my fine and moved on like most everyone else.

    Finally before you criticize my driving skills or habits how many times on any given day when you drive do you go over the speed limit? I doubt you’re the perfect driver never exceeding the speed limit no matter what. Try driving 25 mph on MacArthur Blvd in DC or any other road for a long time; it’s hard to not go over 25 mph on that or any road.

    And yes I’d rather see our police out policing than a machine hidden in van parked on the road. Years ago I read book by the head of the California Highway Patrol and he talked about speed traps at some point. (I can’t find the book to cite the title.) Essentially the author said that a police car with a radar gun hidden behind a billboard on the side of the road never reduced the speed of a car. But a police car with a radar gun out in clear slight always reduced the speed of cars.

    Do you think speed cameras are really slowing the speed of cars and increasing public safety or are they generating revenue for local government and their contractors?

    Comment by mknac | September 22, 2008 | Reply

  3. To summarize it, yes, on both accounts. And, is that really so bad?

    Comment by Kate | September 22, 2008 | Reply

  4. Well Mknac’s,

    Your Q. Additionally speed cameras don’t reduce the speed of the vehicle that triggers the device so how are speed cameras improving safety by reducing the speed of vehicles?
    ————————————————————
    A. Next time you drive down that same street I’m sure you will slow down, that is how it reduces your speed. What the heck are you talking about have a police car on the side of the road……..you will slow down…..how old are you? If your mother is not looking you will steal candy but if you see her I will not!!!!!Grow up!!!
    ————————————————————
    YOUR Q. If our government were to use these devices to reduce speed I’d support it. How’s about our local government place a sign 500 feet before a speed camera zone saying there is a speed camera zone ahead. I bet that would reduce speed in a so called dangerous area. But our local government won’t do that. Why do you think that is Kate; that’s right they want the money generated by the speed camera?
    ————————————————————
    A. Well again—-Mac,
    If you look there are signs telling you that speed camera are in use. But if you are speeding (as you do) you missed it….try slowing down. Plus if you were to look you will see speed limit signs. Like 25 MPH!!!!That is your sign. How much more do you want?

    I could go on but YOU ARE the type of person and the reason we need the cameras. I’m sure you even tail gate you have the mind set……IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU!!!!!!

    And yes, I agree with Kate.
    Plus I do drive the speed limit….I’m the one you are tail gating. Slow down and back off. Did you see the speed limit sign? NO!!!!because you are tail gating. YOU ARE MISSING ALL THE SIGNS YOU WANT THE GOVERMENT TO INSTALL. They tell you how fast you can go. But NO, you want more signs. Lets spend more money on signs. Obey the law, it’s that simple.

    I know first hand the money that is collected from the cameras and it’s a break even operation.

    It’s sad the people in the Washington area drive like you.

    I’m sure you will respond to this email, do your self and everyone on the road a favor and spend the time re-thinking how you drive.

    Have a nice day, Robert

    Comment by Robert | September 22, 2008 | Reply

  5. Robert:
    You’re sound like angry person. Calm down a bit. Are you a local politician who voted for speed cameras or a contractor looking forward to a percentage of every ticket issued?

    You don’t know anything about me, other than what I’ve said, I don’t support speed cameras and received a speed camera ticket in DC about 6 months ago, yet you accuse me of being public enemy number one on our roadways. If I drove like you accuse me of I’m sure I’d have enough points on my license that the state would have revoked it by now or I couldn’t buy insurance.

    As I said in the original post I do not support speeding or reckless driving; or the tailgating and other driving violations you accuse me of. Nor do I drive like that. I can’t remember the last time I received a traffic citation. I believe it was in the early 1990’s or late 1980’s. I don’t think that one speeding ticket in say 15 years qualifies as a road rage driver. Also that ticket I recently received was in DC not Montgomery County or Gaithersburg so you’re safe Bob. You’ve never received a speeding ticket?

    As a matter of fact I support enforcement of traffic laws; but do not support contracting out to commercial for-profit companies using speed cameras to do so. Granted that states and local governments have always used traffic tickets to generate revenue, but do you not see the inherent conflict of interest in how speed cameras are being used with corporations running the show and getting a percentage of every ticket?

    You do make a point I would guess you are correct about. If speed cameras are never moved, the people who drive past that route every day and are aware that the speed camera is there would most likely slow down to avoid a ticket. But it wouldn’t slow down people who don’t know the speed camera is there. (That’s the point, speed cameras don’t deter speeders if they don’t know they are there. The program is supposed to make us safer by reducing vehicle speeds but it doesn’t. It generates millions of dollars for the government and its contractor though.) Vehicles would still drive through a dangerous area at a high rate of speed.

    You also said that there are signs saying that speed cameras are being used ahead of the speed zone. I can’t find any information on the “Safe Speed” Montgomery County or Gaithersburg City web sites that mentions warning signs. Nor have I seen or heard anyone other than you say that there are warning signs.

    Since I haven’t received any speed camera tickets in Montgomery County or Gaithersburg I guess I haven’t been speeding through the speed camera zones so fast that I don’t see the speed camera warning signs.

    Actually if Montgomery County and Gaithersburg is posting signs before the speed camera zones warning drivers I’d support that. Then it would be very similar to the use of red light cameras. If a driver is given reasonable warning that a speed camera zone is ahead and still speeds, well then you get what you deserve.

    I’ll go out in search of a Gaithersburg speed camera zone this week based on their website that indicates where the speed cameras are. If that’s the case I’ll remove the original post from my blog and write a new post supporting the use of speed cameras.

    Thanks for contributing to the debate.

    Comment by mknac | September 23, 2008 | Reply

  6. The issue with Safe Speed is; locations are being chosen with abnormally low speed limits and / or poor signage, areas that will maximize revenues, not areas of high concern regarding public safety. This is what is known as a good old fashioned speed trap

    Comment by minimus | September 24, 2008 | Reply

  7. The issue is not so much whether Montgomery county is implementing it’s program fairly NOW, the question is whether they can be trusted to do the same in the future.

    When Montgomery County knowingly signed a contract which violated article 21-809(j) of the Maryland transportation code, which forbids paying contractors a per-ticket fee, they demonstrated that they are unwilling to comply with simple restrictions built into the law. That brings into question whether ANY restrictions built into the law will be obeyed once the system is well established and people are no longer watching the program closely. And once these devices are authorized statewide, you need to worry not just about the integrity of your local officials, but also of other counties you occasionally drive through. Some of them might well decide to place a mobile camera 25 yards after the speed limit drops from 45 to 30 knowing that they will nail tons of out-of-town drivers just to get more revenue.

    If people do not want the government looking over their shoulder all the time and holding ordinary people responsible for every ordinary mistake they make while driving, they need to tell their representatives to hold the line on this. Last year various bills were put forward which almost passed that would have eliminated quite a few of the restrictions, including removing a requirement that funds be spent only on public safety, which Montgomery the county frequently uses to tout their program. For those who say “If you’re not breaking the law you have nothing to hide” I assume it would be OK if I follow you around whenever you drive with a camera, then take your photo and charge you $40 bucks every time you commit a minor traffic violation?

    The government is engaged in a massive PR campaign to promote this program, at your expense. If you write an email to the County Executive to complain about the cameras, you will get a response from a police officer. They will first look up your record and see if you have any violations. If you do, he will lecture you over for them. If you don’t, he’ll give you a set of half-truths and ask you not to question the integrity of the police. But of course, you wrote to your ELECTED official, so why does the response to this POLITICAL issue come from LAW ENFORCEMENT? Why are police resources being used for a political PR campaign?

    Camera supporters often try to say that only reckless drivers oppose them, that if you oppose them you are anti-safety. They don’t want to believe that someone could oppose them on the principals of limited government, privacy, and the idea of being innocent until proven guilty. The people have a right to decide what powers are given to the government, what laws we must live by, and how those laws are enforced.

    This technology is moving fast and could be applied to MANY other things in the future. Cameras to enforce parking violations are in use in DC, and HOV lane cameras have been developed. Will it ever end?

    This issue will come before the state legislature again next year. Now some camera supporters are OPENLY talking about the virtues of using them to generate revenue, so given the county and state budget problems, you can expect to see legislation geared towards ensuring they are profitable. Will we see them go statewide? On freeways? Gradual removal of all restrictions? Will we see new types of photo enforcement which have nothing to do with safety? That’s up to the Sheeple.

    Comment by Stop Big Brother Maryland | September 27, 2008 | Reply


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