Speeding tickets generate revenue for the city or county in which they’re issued. If the police department is low on revenue, they’ll set up a speed trap on a busy road and lie in wait for the non-violent speed violators. If the city is really desperate, they’ll invest in a speed camera system that will be distributed around the city and send citations to the registered owners of the alleged speeding vehicles. And if they’re still not happy with the money they’re making, they’ll start issuing speeding tickets to people who aren’t even speeding.
In Baltimore, Maryland, they’ve generated over $48 million in revenue in the past three years since they implemented their speed camera system. But from all the 1.7 million citations issued, there were bound to be some faulty tickets.
One Baltimore driver was parked at a red light, and the two photos on the speeding citation that he received in the mail clearly show his car not moving at all. He even saw the video of when the camera snapped the pictures, and his car was motionless. Yet he got a ticket for going 38mph in a 25mph zone.
The process isn’t completely automated, as police officers still have to monitor it and sign off on each ticket. The Baltimore Sun reported:
“The city's speed camera contractor, Xerox State and Local Solutions, says each potential citation goes through two layers of review to weed out any that have a deficiency, such as an illegible license plate. Then a Baltimore police officer must review the citation before approving it for issuance to the vehicle owner. Each citation says the officer swears or affirms that the car was going at least 12 mph over the speed limit ‘based on inspection of the recorded images.’ The officer's signature is also printed.”
They must be really desperate to generate revenue to be issuing speeding tickets to motionless drivers. Whether it was simply an oversight or not, I wonder how many faulty tickets have been issued to drivers where the driver just pays the ticket without bothering to challenge it, not thinking that they could be so inaccurate.
One Maryland legislator, Delegate Jon Cardin, has a bill that would levy up to a $1,000 fine for issuing such erroneous citations. Said the Baltimore Sun:
“His proposal comes after The Baltimore Sun found inaccuracies with five of the city's 83 automated speed cameras and showed that there's no way to verify the alleged speeds printed on tickets issued by Baltimore County, Howard County and the State Highway Administration. ‘Over the last few weeks, the speed camera issue has really shaken all our confidence in what our government is here to do,’ Cardin told reporters at a news conference in downtown Baltimore. ‘Is government here to raise revenue, or is government here to keep our residents safe?’”
They’re here to raise revenue. So here’s a better idea than fining someone $1,000 for bogus speeding tickets. How about they just scrap the entire speed camera system? It’s not just that they’re inaccurate sometimes. It’s that it’s a pure money-making venture that has nothing to do with improving public safety. If these cities and counties want to have more money, they should do what the rest of us do – cut spending and live on a tight budget. Not invent money-grabbing scams.