Tag Archive | "red light cameras"

Don’t Fall for the Red Light Camera Violation Scam!

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Big Brother has assumed control in the State of New Jersey.  Most traffic light-regulated intersections are now home to cameras enabling authorities to capture images of moving violations and send notices of same to violators, as well as a information on a convenient way to pay for the violation online.  Isn’t technology wonderful?!


While some in the state consider that this remote violation monitoring craze is little more than a scam designed to levy yet another tax on citizens, real scammers (i.e., criminals and not those governing in Trenton) are finding creative ways to employ this new fundraising system for their own benefit.


NJ.com has reported what appears to be the first instance of a scam involving red light camera violations.  A Bridgewater, New Jersey resident recently was defrauded of $365 for payment of a purported red light camera violation.


Police indicated that the victim was contacted by telephone with the caller informing the victim that an arrest warrant was issued in her name for a traffic violation captured by a red light camera and that she had missed her court appearance causing an arrest warrant in her name to be issued.


The caller instructed the victim to purchase a $365 Green Dot money card and indicated that he would then call back so she could read him the serial number on the back of the card to make payment.  The victim followed the caller’s instructions and was informed that the warrant was satisfied and she would be receiving mailed notice of a new court date.


One can only speculate on the victim’s financial situation and whether or not the $365 stolen represented a meaningful amount to her.  Yet, situations like this one in which notice of a violation is provided by an automated system rather than a witnessing law enforcement officer provide yet another argument to dismantle these intrusive red light cameras and place ticketing responsibilities back into the hands of law enforcement.


Big Brother Is Coming!

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Local media reports indicate that Morris Township is moving closer to becoming Morris County’s first municipality to install red light cameras.  These cameras, already in use by other municipalities in New Jersey and other states, enable ticketing of motorists who run these red lights.  Owners of vehicles captured by these cameras receive a summons by mail with a hefty fine attached.  It is unclear what defense might be advanced for such a violation.


In George Orwell’s classic novel, “1984,” Big Brother, an icon of the ruling totalitarian regime, “watches” a subjugated populace via its television screens.  Since motorists on public streets should have no expectation of privacy, red light cameras clearly do not intrude upon any motorists rights.  Likewise, were a police officer a witness to a moving violation at an intersection, he or she could certainly ticket the violator.  Nonetheless, the presence of technology that enables the government to identify and enforce every single motor vehicle intersection infraction seems a little too “Orwellian” to this writer.


If the use of technology to enforce laws against motorists running red lights does not trouble you, how does the use of technology to enforce speed laws?  Most of us have seen those displays on roadsides (both temporary and permanent) apprizing motorists of the speeds of their vehicles.  Why not enforce speed limits using the same technology used to enforce intersection violations?


Perhaps, technology could be improved to identify not merely the vehicle involved in the violation but also its operator.  Then, in addition to a hefty fine, the violating motorist could be faced with points on his/her license, loss of license, and/or surcharges on auto insurance premiums!  Does the prospect of this type of enforcement disturb anyone other than me?


There is something disconcerting about receiving notification after-the-fact that you, or more precisely, the vehicle you own has violated a motor vehicle law.  Now, I’m not endorsing lawlessness.  But, if the average motorist thinks about it and is honest with himself, he would likely admit to committing any number of motor vehicle violations each day, even if the violations were for driving 26 in a 25 mile-per-hour zone or slowly rolling through a stop sign at a desolate intersection.  Should we expand technology to discover and punish all of these infractions?


Liberty is won with great difficulty and lost with ease.  It is a slippery slope from permitting cameras at intersections to permitting government surveillance of all public venues and activities.  And, it is but a relatively small step from the bottom of that slippery slope to government surveillance of private venues:  the scenario depicted in “1984.”


Of course, there is always a valid reason for such monitoring.  In the case of red light cameras, the rationale is to reduce accidents and promote public safety.  Does generating revenue for the municipalities enter into this equation?  I think so, and the thought of our local governments squeezing every dollar out of an already financially-strapped populace actually makes me feel somewhat better about the proposition.  Better a local government whose purpose in spying on its citizens is greed, than one whose purpose is behavior and mind control.

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