Baltimore Accused Of Stacking The Deck For Speed Cameras

from the hide-that-sign dept

We've seen over and over again that redlight cameras and speed cameras almost never have anything to do with increased safety on the roads (and some studies have even suggested they make the roads more dangerous). Instead, in almost every case, they really appear to be about revenue generation for the local municipality. Tim DiPaula points us to what at least appears like a very sketchy situation in Baltimore where the city installed brand new 40 MPH signs... and then, about a block later, there's a sign that is partially obscured by the trees, suddenly dropping the speed limit to 30 MPH. And, of course, there's a speed camera right there. I'm sure that makes the roads much safer.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  •  
    identicon
    Barney Fife, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 5:11am

    Yeah - that's the ticket

    1. that section of road will make money, you can bank on it.
    2. banks have safes
    3. therefore that section of road is safer.

     

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      zaven (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 5:14am

      Re: Yeah - that's the ticket

      Chewbakah is a wookie.

       

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:12am

      Re: Yeah - that's the ticket

      "1. that section of road will make money, you can bank on it.
      2. banks have safes
      3. therefore that section of road is safer."

      That'd be genius, except you forgot a couple of things:

      4. Banks have alarms
      5. Therefore, that section of road is also alarming.

       

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        Bailout Buddy, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:36am

        Re: Re: Yeah - that's the ticket

        "That'd be genius, except you forgot a couple of things:

        4. Banks have alarms
        5. Therefore, that section of road is also alarming."

        Missed something...

        6. Banks take taxpayer money and maybe give it back.
        7. Therefore, that section of road is also a bailout.

         

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          Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:47am

          Re: Re: Re: Yeah - that's the ticket

          "6. Banks take taxpayer money and maybe give it back.
          7. Therefore, that section of road is also a bailout."

          It looks like we BOTH forgot the biggest factor in all of this. I have a couple of my Hebrew friends are bankers, and they tell me that there are in fact a great many Jewish folks in the banking industry.

          Ergo, that section of road is Jewish....

           

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          DS, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 9:14am

          Re: Re: Re: Yeah - that's the ticket

          Correction...

          6. Banks were forced to take taxpayer money, then were denied the ability to give it back early
          7. Therfore, someone's going to force you to drive on it, bitch about what car you were driving, and yell that you shouldn't have been there in the first place.

          Err, it seems to break down.

           

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    zaven (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 5:13am

    Gotta Love Baltimore

    Baltimore's former mayor was recently convicted of stealing gift cards meant for the poor.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2009/12/baltimore_mayor_convicted_for.html

    The mayor before that was elected Governor of Maryland based on a platform of improving education when Baltimore city had one of the worst education systems in the country. As a native Marylander, I just have to applaud that city's ability to bring in the controversy.

     

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      172pilot (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 7:44am

      Re: Gotta Love Baltimore

      Just the point I was going to make.. The only thing I'd add is that not only is Maryland's government corruption highlighted by the fact that the Mayor of Baltimore was convicted of stealing the cards, but additionally to confirm that corruption, she was allowed to plea bargain POST-CONVICTION (while threatening an appeal) that allowed her to avoid jail time in exchange for her resignation, but that still allows her to keep her $75000/year pension for life..

      With this going on, it's no wonder our general population doesn't recognize these cameras for what they are.. And, for anyone who's commute takes them past the cameras, you know, and are expecting that the car in front of you WILL slam on their brakes about 10' before the camera, and then start speeding again 10' after... I have seen numerous rear-end collisions caused by these things.

      -Steve.. Also in Maryland.. Thankfully NOT directly in Baltimore.

       

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    Anthony Biedenkapp (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 5:37am

    MD School Systems

    For what it's worth, Maryland has had one of the best turnarounds in improving their Public School systems. They have been ranked #1 in the country as recently as this month.

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/accountability/md-top-states-on-ed-report-car.html

     

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      BobinBaltimore (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 5:55am

      Re: MD School Systems

      What does this have to do with the price of eggs? I assure you that the ranking of improvement for Maryland public schools is NOT indicative of what is happening in Baltimore City, which has the most troubled school system in the state.

       

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      jomama, Apr 28th, 2010 @ 7:02am

      Re: MD School Systems

      yeah...maryland. NOT Baltimore (balti-less)

       

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    BobinBaltimore (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 5:53am

    Typical

    Baltimore is one of the most corrupt, money-grubbing cities in the US. It has been a launching pad for sketchy politicians for years (as well as a few earnest ones, I'd have to note). They are hurting for cash and this is a way for them to get it, in a manner that most citizens won't bother with protesting. Government - at all levels in the US - was not intended to have its own interests aside from those of the people. Crap like this, and like the use of eminent domain to enrich government coffers as opposed to serve a public good are examples of government acting like a corporation, something that has its own self-preservation interests that too often conflict with the rights of its citizens.

     

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    NullOp, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:07am

    Revenue

    Look, its all about money and power. EVERYTHING in the world is about money and power. All organizations run on money. Organizations, such as governments, need to generate revenue. Since they are run by people, they cheat. Its not a question-they CHEAT! Its a small miracle people are allowed to keep as much of our earnings as we do. The government, at every level, cheats and steals!

     

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      172pilot (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 7:46am

      Re: Revenue

      Which is EXACTLY why this stuff needs to be exposed for what it is.. I for one am TIRED of it, and I think more and more people are ready to fight against it, rather than to just give in and ignore it.

       

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    Brian, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:20am

    It is Mary-land

    It is the Peoples Republic of Mary-land! They do anything to extract money from its citizens, so the govt employees gat get their blackberries, toughbook laptops, new cop cars!

     

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    Joe K (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:34am

    Cameras can be good

    I think speed cameras are a good thing. Maybe they are a problem in the US because they are installed where they are out to make money.

    In Germany, speeding cameras are common, and strict. I got a ticket for going about 4mph over the limit, with a fee of about $10 sent by mail.

    If we really want to make roads safe, we should only give driver's licenses to people who are really capable of driving.

     

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      bassmadrigal (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:50am

      Re: Cameras can be good

      I am going to just paste my comment I had in another story.

      In my experience in Germany, the speed cameras don't do anything to help safety. All it means, is in the areas where we know there is a camera, we slow down right before we get to the camera and then speed right back up once we pass it. Then there are those people who right as they see the cameras, they lock up their brakes. I have seen a few accidents happen because of that.

      All the cameras do, is make people slow down within a couple hundred yards of where the camera is at. Now if they were to set up an temporary camera 1/2 mile past the original one occasionally, then they would realize how many people slow down for just the camera and then go right back to speeding.

      I'm all for trying to find ways to make people drive more safely, but from everything I have seen while living in Germany, speed cameras don't provide that.

       

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      Bastid (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 8:13am

      Re: Cameras can be good

      The only part of your post that I agree with is the last line. We definitely need better driver education and training. Remembering my habits when I was sixteen, I am also in favor of raising the driving age.

      But for the cameras, F that $h!t!!

       

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        rwahrens (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 10:22am

        Re: Re: Cameras can be good

        I'd agree with bassmadrigal. Speed cameras aren't designed to slow down traffic on a whole road, but should be used to slow it down at a particular place, such as by a park or a school. There, it works quite well.

        In Maryland, that's how they are SUPPOSED to use them, but unfortunately, I've seen them placed in spots where saying it's by a park is questionable, to say the least. They also combine parks and schools in such a way that they can have a series of cameras on a road to try to control the whole road.

        But where they are placed to control a school crossing or a park crossing a road, they work fine. As long as they aren't hidden or expected to slow down a whole road's worth of traffic.

        I've also seen them drop the speed limit suddenly - some towns have done that, just to get revenue, I think. Shouldn't be allowed.

         

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      Cookie Monster, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 7:02pm

      Re: Cameras can be good

      There was a story some time ago, maybe a year or more, where this guy was getting caught on camera in Germany, but he was driving a foriegn vehicle with the steering wheel on the opposite side. In Germany, they only take a picture of the driver, not the passenger and so this guy stuck a muppet in the passenger seat and that is what showed up in the picture. I forgot which muppet, was it Elmo? Anyways, this was quite funny - did they ever catch that guy ?

       

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    Idobek (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:46am

    Speed cameras are dangerous

    Speed cameras are a hazard: far from making people drive more safely, they cause drivers to divert their concentration to their speedometers and away from the road.

     

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    Tim DiPaula, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:55am

    Typo

    Mike, You misspelled my name in the story, it's Tim DiPaula. :).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:57am

    That section of the road is a witch!

     

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    Anon, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 7:21am

    Not plausible but . . .

    What if everyone decided to not commit any traffic violations for 1 month? Our roads would be a little safer, but our local governments would be out a crap load of money. They would have to raise taxes to make up the difference, and everyone would be more upset then if they had installed Red light and speeding cameras.

    Governments need money. They have several levers they can pull to get money, but overall tax increase for every voter is the least desirable (from their point of view). I'm still hoping they pass the red hair and/or left handed tax.

     

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      CastorTroy-Libertarian, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 9:48am

      Re: Not plausible but . . .

      Except if the Government cut down but OH call it 75% of the crap and actually allowed compentance then they would only need about 1/10th of the money they need today, and no more being multi-trillions in the Red...

      Lets face do they need money... Yes
      Are they Effecient... No
      Are they Honest.... NO
      Is there stacks upon stacks of red tape to keep dummies employeed.... Hell Yes
      If we cut out just 20% of the red tape and dummies would they be in the mess they are today... maybe.. they spend money like its water, without looking at the consequences ... But with out just 20% of the stupidity i bet we would save Billions...

      (sorry RANT its been a long day LOL)

       

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      Alan Gerow (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 10:07am

      Re: Not plausible but . . .

      ha ha ha, no the government doesn't NEED money. The government income tax program is supposedly voluntary (there is no law that requires citizens pay federal income tax), until you volunteer not to participate.

      The government needs to steal money from its citizens because it can't operate in a fiscally responsible manner and provide valuable goods and services that people will voluntarily use. They have to resort to the threat of violence and force to extract money from people for services they may or may not even want or need.

      If the government provided the services it's required to and didn't compete with private citizens in industries where private businesses can provide, then it wouldn't need to extort money from the average person at all. It's government bloat, greed, and corruption that makes "government need money" from the average person.

       

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        rwahrens (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 10:32am

        Re: Re: Not plausible but . . .

        Oh, please, not that "income tax is illegal" crap again.

        Cite your source, in the Federal Code of Regulations, where it is voluntary.

        You can't, because it ISN'T. Paying income tax is REQUIRED, by law, and if you don't pay it and refuse to cooperate with the IRS, you'll find out VERY fast which section of that code requires it, because the indictment will cite it, chapter and verse, just before they haul you into court and send your a** to prison for failure to pay.

        Face it, no matter how much you may dislike government, there IS a need for one - and it DOES take money to run it.

        One can (and we do) argue till the cows come home about how honest and efficient it is or isn't, but if you are going to expect people to show up and work for it, they've gotta get paid, they have to have offices to work in, and those buildings have to be protected.

        All that takes money. Otherwise, this would be an anarchy, for about six months, before some warlord stepped in and took over.

        Then you'd wish you had the old government back, and wouldn't look at taxes as theft - because you'd know the REAL definition of it!

         

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          btr1701 (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 11:56am

          Re: Re: Re: Not plausible but . . .

          > Cite your source, in the Federal Code of
          > Regulations, where it is voluntary.

          Actually, the income tax laws are found in the United States Code, not the CFR.

           

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          ahhh - ok - I'll bite, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 7:06pm

          Re: Re: Re: Not plausible but . . .

          "Cite your source, in the Federal Code of Regulations, where it is voluntary."

          I suppose that earning a living via wages is voluntary in that you are not forced to work.

           

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        btr1701 (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 11:54am

        Re: Re: Not plausible but . . .

        > (there is no law that requires citizens pay
        > federal income tax)

        The federal prisons are lousy with people who kept saying that exact same thing, right up until the moment the cell door slammed shut.

         

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    dpatac (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 7:25am

    Photo Angle

    I would have liked to see the photo taken from a car to get a more realistic angle. I received a ticket for making a right on red. From my truck I could not see the sign which was posted in a different place than normal. I took a photo from my truck at the place showing that the sign was there but I could not see it...

     

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    Bertizimo, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 7:26am

    This is nothing new. California has been doing this for years. You an see several of them in action in Sausalito although instead of a camera there is a cop on a motorcycle with a radar gun.

     

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    Bertizimo, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 7:26am

    This is nothing new. California has been doing this for years. You an see several of them in action in Sausalito although instead of a camera there is a cop on a motorcycle with a radar gun.

     

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    identicon
    :), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 7:32am

    Mouse

    How can I call that stretch of the road a mouse trap and then somehow called it Disney?

    Banks have rats ergo that section of the road is disneyland?

     

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    bob, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 7:43am

    Get A Ticket

    Fight the ticket, if everyone who gets a ticket, fights it the system of revenue generation will collapse.

     

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      CastorTroy-Libertarian, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 9:51am

      Re: Get A Ticket

      Except where i live they are now adding additional slaps for even fighting it if you dont win... the best line from the one of the Judges.... "we need people to understand the consequenices of fighting these tickets" Thanks we understand don't question, just hand over the money and move along, nothing else to see...

       

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    Overcast (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 7:48am

    Wow, really?

    This news comes out - and I think maybe 0.0001% of people are actually surprised.

    The idiots in office lie and say they are for 'safety' - they don't believe it, the cops don't believe it, the public doesn't believe it - and they still go on and lie about it anyway.

    lol

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 7:52am

    sign placement and reflectivity

    Check out the speed limit signs at night in most cities. The first sign showing a speed drop is less reflective, and is sitting farther away from the roadway. It's usually the second sign that you see. These are easily fought, as the DOT has standards for sign placement and reflectivity. But, ... most people pay the fine and go on.

     

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    Overcast (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 8:03am

    Luckily, the city I'm in doesn't play stupid games with sign and camera placement to get more tickets. They'd have a hard time getting me anyway, as I'm a laid back driver, usually right on the speed limit and I pay a lot of attention.

    But.. that's WHY I like this town and am buying a house here :)

    And won't even go near Baltimore - luckily, I don't support any site for my company there. Hopefully it will stay that way.

     

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    Matt Bennett, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 8:15am

    So, I really liked that the Baltimore Sun article had at the end a "Who can fix this?" section, with contact information for the government official with the direct responsibility. I think that's great, it's very democracy enabling.

     

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    Angus, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 8:26am

    Get a saw.

    Trim the tree.

     

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    Jim C, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 8:47am

    Signs

    In France they must post signs warning that there is a speed camera just before the speed cameras to warn drivers. That sounds like a good law to have here.

    It won't affect safety. After all the goal was to get people to slow down on a "dangerous" stretch of road.

    There we will be less accidents as people will have enough warning to slow down normally.

    It will prevent "profit" from being a motive for the cameras as they will not give out very many tickets.

     

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    future technology, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 10:05am

    Short Yellow Lights

    In California, several cities have been caught setting short yellow lights in order to give more tickets. Some streetlights will have short yellows only at particular times of the day when the police just happen to be there.

     

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    stephen, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 10:15am

    two tangents

    1. This type of speed trap was a plot engine on The Partridge Family.

    2. In "Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone" Rajiv Chandrasekaran reveals that some Bush appointee rewrote Iraq's traffic laws using Maryland's as a model.

     

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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 10:22am

    The answer.

    Is for drivers to write letters to the editor about how they have stopped patronizing businesses in the jurisdiction. You might also call a restaurant in the area, schedule a group and then cancel it later because of the unethical conduct. If enough things like this are done, if businesses think they are losing business over it they will raise holy hell.

    Ronald J. Riley,


    I am speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

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    streetlight (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 11:45am

    Here's how one city uses low tech

    I once lived in a SE Michigan city that had stop signs on wheels and would move them to different places along a street, normally where there was no intersection. They were only a couple of feet off the ground and they would place them behind a parked car. A very low tech revenue generator.

     

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    identicon
    Phil, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 12:35pm

    "Instead, in almost every case, they really appear to be about revenue generation for the local municipality."

    Nailed it.

    Just like checkpoints. I drove through one of those last week. I had heard of them but never personally encountered one. They didn't hold me up long but it felt like the 4th amendment was pretty much obliterated. And obviously, they do not make us safer, they only serve to generate revenue.

     

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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 5:00am

    While the story is interesting, it isn't something that is unique to speed cameras. For as long as there has been a way to measure speed for the purposes of writing tickets, there have been towns willing to abuse it.

    The "speed trap" town is a classic. You are driving along a highway with a 50MPH speed limit, you pass a large sign that say "now entering Pearl City" or whatever, and a few feet later there is sign that slows the limit to 40mph. Most people would slow down to maybe 45. Not long after that, there is an obscured 30MPH speed limit sign, and a well placed bush / signboard / other physical obstacle for a police car to hide behind. After that, it's just normal fishing, picking the out of state cars and targeting them for significant fines.

    The kicker? The fines can only be contested in a small town traffic court that only convenes once a month, on a tuesday night or something like that. Some places use to require on the spot payment of fines.

    The saga of New Rome, Ohio (population 60, with 14 police officers!) http://www.newromesucks.com/main.html

     

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    gren (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 8:59am

    Speed cameras can improve safety. The key is making sure governments use them to improve safety and not for revenue. The problem with politics in Baltimore is when you try to lower the speed limit on a road into the city that richer suburbanites use they will complain about it. Speed traps are bad. Speed limit enforcement is good. Now if only people could see nuance on this issue.

     

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    Zee (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 9:55pm

    Actually

    They just want to test your brakes. If you can do 40mph to 30mph in one block then maybe they will make it half a block and see if you can still cope up. If you still can then they will shortened the distance to maybe 20 meters or until you get caught.

     

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    identicon
    ANTHONY, Apr 30th, 2010 @ 4:43am

    CAMERA SCAM

    Recently several cameras were found to be defective and they calculated they need to refund $91000.00 to people that were ticketed ! THEY ARE A SCAM TO RAISE MONEY.

     

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    jacop, May 2nd, 2011 @ 11:40pm

    they do not think our safety , just think income.Todays cars are more safer but we still use old speed limits why?For more safety ?no for more income

     

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