January 27, 2002
A Driver's Revolt In
"Find out just what people will submit to, and
you have found the exact
amount of injustice and wrongdoing which will be
imposed on them; and
these will continue until they are resisted with either
words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the
endurance of those whom they
- Frederick Douglas, 1857
Camera Rage Strikes
THE NEW YORK TIMES
HONOLULU, Jan. 26 -- Bumper stickers here shout the slogan
"Slow down! This ain't the Mainland!" But drivers are now in open revolt
program forcing them to drive more
This month the state began using digital
cameras operated from unmarked vans and mounted near intersections to catch
drivers who speed and run red lights on selected state roads and
The response has been swift. Rebellious
drivers have snapped up
several thousand license covers that illegally
obscure plates, owners of automobile-accessory shops say. They have sent
angry letters to the
local papers urging people not to pay their tickets.
Cellphone brigades call morning radio shows to relay the vans' locations,
and reports abound of drivers hurling obscene gestures, insults and
even trash at the vans.
Some officials are even
saying that the program may be working too well. "People are now driving
too slow," said Carol Costa, a spokeswoman for the City of Honolulu
"They're driving in packs so their plates can't be seen by the cameras.
There are people who speed around the packs of cars. And the vans, of
course, themselves are being targeted by
The effort has ignited such rage that some
lawmakers are considering
repealing it, and the City and County of Honolulu
have bowed out of the antispeeding part of the program, saying it makes
people drive erratically....
The three-year pilot program is being run by a
technology company, ACS
State and Local Solutions, which receives $29.75 for
every citation paid. For a speeding citation, the state receives $27 plus
$5 for every mile over the speed limit; the fine for running a red light
is $77. ....
"There's a difference between going a little
above the speed limit and
reckless driving," said George Chan, a clerk for
the State Department of Health who often travels the monitored roads. "The
police have more
discretion. The cameras just sit there and say `You're over
the limit.' There's no reasonable leeway."
group says the problem is not speeding, but the speed limits. At 55 miles
per hour, Hawaii's speed limit is the lowest in the nation, according to
the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Arlington, Va. On many major
highways, which often front schools and residential areas, the limit drops
to 45 or 35 m.p.h.
"This is an island of Sunday
drivers," said Terry Poland, who owns a
business center in a Waikiki hotel.
"The speed limits are too slow. You have to ride the edge of the limit just
to get anywhere."
Though the Hawaii Legislature
authorized the cameras in 1998, it has
taken the state this long to put the
plan into effect. Now, proposals are being made to change the law. Among
them are reviewing speed limits, treating the citations like parking
tickets and repealing the legislation.
Souki, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, has
introduced a bill
to raise the statewide maximum speed limit to 65 m.p.h., though making
changes on specific roads would be determined by traffic engineers.
In December, when the state issued warnings
in a trial of the system, Ms. Kali said 50,000 vehicles were checked and 30
percent were speeding. ....
Copyright 2002 The New
York Times Company
If there is one characteristic that defines
government, it is hypocrisy! Imagine, for a moment that the speed limit is 35
m.p.h., and you are "caught" doing 36. For that 1 m.p.h., you are
photographed, sent a citation for $61.25, with $29.75 going to a private
company, and the city does not have to do a thing but place their share of the
booty in the bank.
Could anyone possibly imagine any government agency
being held to such tight standards of discipline? Government couldn't
operate under a zero tolerance standard so imposed upon its citizens. Since we
are here talking about a private company placing profits in the bank, does
this not raise the question of whether we are here talking enforcement or
In Los Angeles, Lockheed Martin has placed up its
cameras at various intersections throughout the city for a profit take of $60
per "violator." The other day the news reported that Lockheed was complaining to
the City Councilmen that there were not making enough from these cameras
to make it profitable for them, stating that many days they only "caught"
approximately three violators at some intersections. Filmed shots from
Lockheed's cameras revealed that the biggest violator class in Los Angeles was
the Los Angeles City Parking Violation's vehicles with whom Lockheed is in
cahoots. Oh, but the city doesn't have to pay. But wait a minute, this is
about public safety, not profits, right? One can be killed by a city vehicle
running a red light as well as a private vehicle.
And where are the courts on all this? Prior courts
have stated that when it comes to traffic enforcement, there can be no
hint of profit-making, yet judges generally turn a blind-eye to this
for private for-profit business and will not address the issue. One judge in San
Diego was bold enough to declared this private for-profit camera business a
violation of the Constitution. What is interesting here, is why
this private for-profit business is unconstitutional in his realm, but not
Now what would happen if the citizens
started placing up cameras in the proximity of the bureaucrats and
sent them a bill for every minor infraction? Wasn't it not that long ago that
the federal judges were complaining about their every keystroke being recorded
on their computers in their chambers? Ah, yes. Isn't life
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