TODAY’S QUESTION: Should cameras be used to enforce highway speed limits?

Thursday, July 15, 2010 | 10:33 a.m. CDT

A speed camera has been set up on Interstate 170 in the St. Louis suburb of Charlack to catch drivers in violation of the speed limit. According to the Associated Press, the camera was placed on the Lackland overpass last week. The fine for those caught by the camera is $100. The bill is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle in violation of the speed limit.

The new camera comes just as Arizona ends its own camera program to capture speeding violations along highways across the state. The Associated Press reported that the two-year program, described as "groundbreaking," led to the placement of 76 fixed and mobile cameras. The cameras will stop operating Thursday night.

The use of speed cameras is not without criticism. An article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says that St. Louis Police Chief Tim Fitch disagrees with the placement of a camera in Charlack. There has also been criticism that the camera is being used to create more revenue for the town.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, while speed cameras exist on the streets of cities around Missouri, including Columbia, the camera in Charlack is the first in the state to be used on an interstate highway.

Should cameras be used to enforce highway speed limits?

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Photo RadarScam July 15, 2010 | 1:09 p.m.

No! First of all, they are not reliable. The vendors will not publish accuracy rates. Unmonitored equipment can malfunction or go intermittent without anyone noticing, and innocent people getting tickets. Additionally, the driver is not the car owner 28% of the time according to the IIHS, so why would it ever be acceptable to have a BUILT-IN error rate of 28% in law enforcement!? And if that's not enough, there are no comprehensive studies that show that they actually work. States like Arizona published good results from their cameras, but neighboring state Nevada posted similar results WITHOUT cameras!

The bottom line is, if there is a dangerous road, how do we know the ROOT problem is driver behavior without doing an engineering study? Let's find the root cause of these problems and THEN figure out how to solve them. If the problem is that the limits are set wrong, or improper signs or poor visibility, then let's CORRECT the problem instead of draining money from the local economy and visitors.

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