If you’ve gotten a traffic ticket lately for running a red light that was taken by a monitoring camera, you may be surprised to also receive a promotional letter from a defense lawyer. The attorney will explain the legal vulnerability of municipalities using these devices, encouraging you to challenge it in court.
Will traffic monitoring cameras meet the goals of municipalities, or will they lose support and go away? They’ve been banished by Houston voters and face legal challenges in Missouri. In New York City, they’re being tried out without being seen by drivers. Safety advocates promote them as effective tools and opponents criticize them for only generating revenue. It hasn’t gone too smoothly.
Now the battleground has been moving to the dashboard as an increasing number of gadgets and built-in systems become available. Automakers such as General Motors and Mazda are alerting drivers to the locations of cameras that photograph speeders and red-light violators and issue citations.
It’s not entirely new – portable navigation devices from TomTom, smartphone apps like Waze, and radar detectors like the Escort Passport Max, have made this information accessible to drivers. The location of the cameras can come from several sources. Navigation companies constantly update their database of alerts, relying on crowd-sourced driver reports to mark the positions of cameras.
Cities like Baltimore and Chicago list the locations of cameras online and post conspicuous warning signs at monitored intersections, with the intent of warning drivers about dangerous locations. The goal is to get people to be more careful in their driving – showing this information can be a deterrent, said Sachin Lawande, president of Harman International’s infotainment division.