Published on December 21, 2005 By Jamie Burnside In Misc
I heard on the radio this morning that there is a legal challenge to the city of Minneapolis' photo-ticket program.

Apparently the city of Minneapolis has a number of stationary cameras posted around town. If a camera catches drivers commiting some sort of traffic violation, a ticket is sent to the address of the owner of the "offending" vehicle.

Is the insurance industry behind this? Sure these tickets can be an economic boon for the cities, but will be even better for insurance companies that are looking for excuses to jack up rates.

I hope that this awful system gets taken care of. I can't imagine that anyone was for this in the first place!
on Dec 21, 2005
I'm actually a fan of this type of system (at least in theory, if not implementation). There are too many drivers out there who have the mindset of "Cop doesn't see it, I didn't do it". Running red lights, passing in no pass zones, cutting people off in unsafe manners. A person could be the absolute best driver in the world and be 100% certain they can shoot a gap without hitting anyone to get off the highway from the left lane, but that doesn't take into account that the person they are cutting off may be one of the worst drivers in the world and they are not so sure of the car cutting them off. They in turn swerve to avoid the worlds best driver and hit someone else instead.

So, these stationary cameras, or even the mobile ones Hawaii had for a while, were actually good ideas. The problem comes with implemetation and enforcement.

In Hawaii they had Van Cams. It was a van loaded with a radar detector, digital camera and computer. They wouldn't pull anyone over, just take a picture of any speeder that came through their zone and then tickets were mailed out. The problem that program faced was it was a contract deal. The police were not the actual camera operators and the company made money partly based on the number of tickets paid. So, the usual 5-10 MPH grace that many police officers gave was not observed. They mailed tickets to everybody. The local radio stations had segments added to their morning shows where drivers would call up and let everyone know where the Van Cams were. The complaints grew to such a point that they were required to post a sign a few 100 meters back on the highway warning drivers that a Van Cam was in place ahead. This made them useless. People slowed down and then resumed their speeding.

This is the problem with stationary cams. Once you know where they are, you behave there and continue driving as you always do once you leave the intersection.

The other obstacle is enforcement. Even if you get a picture of the driver included with the license plate, all you have to do is wear a baseball cap, large sunglasses and fake beard (in Hawaii there were reports that one national rights advocate group recommended wearing a halloween mask while driving). Then you can just say it wasn't you driving. Punishing the registered owner for a crime that may have been committed by someone else ins't very American.

I do remember something about the insurance companies. There was a policy of not counting Van Cam tickets against people for the purpose of insurance rates.

Like I said, I'm a fan of the system in theory. I just don't know how to realistically overcome the problems of implementation and enforcement.
on Dec 21, 2005
Jamie, having lived in St. Paul for over 20 years and driven cab and bus there, I know what the traffic situation is like.
Normally I'd be all for this, mainly to catch the jerks that are a danger to our very lives.

It's this thing about who is driving the vehicle that bothers me. Like back in 74 my ex-husand ( then my boyfriend)
drove my car, got a ticket on it, and I went to jail cause it was in my name. That's where the problem is for me.

Who gets the ticket? the owner???? of course, not the driver.....

people would have to stop letting their spouses, significant others, kids, and friends drive their vehicles and be the only
one that drives said vehicle. That would create problems for families, but maybe lower insurance over time?
on Dec 21, 2005
Punishing the registered owner for a crime that may have been committed by someone else ins't very American.

Neither is punishing an innocent driver when the vehicle is in violation, in my opinion.

The only ticket I ever got was while driving someone else's car which they hadn't kept their registration current on. I think the ticket should have gone against the car/owner, but no. It's a blight on my otherwise perfect record.

As for the cameras, they make mistakes. There was a case, I think it was in San Diego, where the cameras were proven to be in error, but the courts said it didn't matter, everyone had to pay the wrongful tickets anyway. I have a huge problem with that. In America we are supposed to be able to confront our accuser. How do you confront a machine? Especially with idiot judges who say, "Machines don't lie!" No judge, but they do screw up, just like you.

on Dec 21, 2005
Um, no.

If you're the registered owner, don't loan your vehicle out to people you don't trust. It's your vehicle, you assume the responsibility for whatever is done with it. If you don't want that responsibility, make the driver get their own vehicle.

And if you're the driver, it's your responsibility check the vehicle out before you take it on the road. Operating an unregistered vehicle is illegal. "I didn't expect my friend to play me for a chump by allowing me to commit illegal acts" is not a valid excuse for breaking the law.
on Dec 23, 2005
Operating an unregistered vehicle is illegal. "I didn't expect my friend to play me for a chump by allowing me to commit illegal acts" is not a valid excuse for breaking the law.

Except the ticket wasn't for driving an unregistered vehicle, it was for the vehicle being unregistered.

And since that's what they specifically had a problem with, as per what the officer said, they need to take it up with someone who can do something about it.

But that's entirely off-topic.