According to the Wall Street Journal the village of Schaumburg, Ill., installed a camera last November to film cars that were running red lights, then used the footage to issue citations. Results were astonishing. The town issued $1 million in fines in just three months.
But drivers caught by the unforgiving enforcement exploded in anger. Many vowed to stop shopping at the mall unless the camera was turned off. The village stopped monitoring right turns at the intersection in January.
Once a rarity, traffic cameras are filming away across the country. Many East Tenn. cities now have camera enforcement, and they're not just focusing their sights on red-light runners. The latest technology includes cameras that keep tabs on highways to catch speeders in the act and infrared license-plate readers that nab ticket and tax scofflaws.
Drivers -- many accusing law enforcement of using spy tactics to trap unsuspecting citizens -- are fighting back with everything from pick axes to camera-blocking Santa Clauses. They're moving beyond radar detectors and CB radios to wage their own tech war against detection, using sprays that promise to blur license numbers and Web sites that plot the cameras' locations and offer tips to beat them.
Cities and states say the devices can improve safety. They also have the added bonus of bringing in revenue in tight times. But critics point to research showing cameras can actually lead to more rear-end accidents because drivers often slam their brakes when they see signs warning them of cameras in the area. Others are angry that the cameras are operated by for-profit companies that typically make around $5,000 per camera each month.
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