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Letters to the Editor

No red-light cameras

| Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The legislative proposal to allow more Pennsylvania communities to use red-light cameras is bad public policy. If enacted, it will seriously infringe on the rights of the driving public, harm the economies of communities that adopt it and shift the emphasis of traffic enforcement from safety to a for-profit enterprise driven by ticket quotas.

By replacing police officers with cameras, there is no certifiable witness to the alleged violation and no accuser for a motorist to confront in court — a constitutional right. Just because a camera unit was operating properly when it was set up does not mean it was operating properly when the picture was taken of a vehicle, yet courts often accept photo radar evidence unconditionally.

People accused of violations may not receive citations for weeks. This delay puts them at a disadvantage when trying to defend themselves, including who was driving the vehicle when the citation was generated. The system assumes car owners — who receive the ticket — were the drivers.

Cameras make mistakes — lots of them.

Baltimore's extensive camera network has been shut down since April 2013 after The Baltimore Sun newspaper reported widespread errors and inaccuracies within the system. An audit revealed the system issued thousands of faulty citations, chalking up an error rate of more than 10 percent — including tickets issued to parked cars.

Instead of looking to spread this harmful practice, Pennsylvania lawmakers should pass legislation to ban all photo-based traffic enforcement.

John Bowman

Waunakee, Wis.

The writer is the communications director of the National Motorists Association.

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