Politicians Hate Traffic Cameras As Much As Everyone Else

The turn against the cameras has left officials scrambling to make up budget shortfalls from lost ticket revenue.

Lincoln tunnel inbound traffic, left, is slow, as outbound traffic, right, moves by in Weehawken, New Jersey, Tuesday, November 20, 2001.

Photographer: Emile Wamsteker/ Bloomberg News

Traffic-light cameras were once promoted as a low-cost way to reduce car accidents. Rather than assigning cops to monitor a crash-prone intersection, municipal and county governments could deploy electronic eyes to scan traffic, letting law enforcement agencies issue tickets remotely. The early results were positive: Cities with cameras saw a 24 percent drop in fatal crashes. The camera programs, which were tested in New York City in the late 1980s, spread to California, Florida, and everywhere in between.

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