Feature

Big Brother at the traffic intersection

Cities across the country are installing cameras at busy intersections to increase municipal revenues earned through traffic tickets, not to ensure citizens' safety, said Holman Jenkins Jr. in<strong> </strong><em>The Wall Stree

Holman Jenkins Jr.The Wall Street Journal

Cities and states across the country are installing cameras at busy intersections, hoping to catch motorists speeding through red lights. But it’s not safety that’s the goal, said Holman Jenkins. It’s writing lots of tickets, and increasing municipal revenues.

Red-light running is not truly a major safety concern, as it causes only 8 percent of all accidents. And studies have proved that at intersections “where red-light running is a problem,” lengthening the timing of the yellow signal to three seconds virtually eliminates that problem.

Nonetheless, municipalities are flocking to install cameras, which snap photos of cars going through the intersection, capture their license plate numbers, and then issue a very expensive ticket by mail. In some municipalities, authorities are actually shortening yellow-light times to increase the number of tickets issued. This is a blatant rip-off scheme, made more creepy by the fact that intersection cameras enable the government to keep photos of you, your car, and your license plate on file. In Britain, the government is already setting up a database of such photos, to be mined in criminal and terrorism investigations. “Never in America, you say?” Perhaps you haven’t been following the news.

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