Traffic camera scam: Fake support of photo enforcement red light and speed cameras

We hate to say it, but you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet – especially when it comes to comments supporting traffic photo enforcement cameras.

Fewer people dig traffic cameras than we may think/Thinkstock image

Although the red light and speed cameras are despised for a number of reasons, with one of the best likening them to crack cocaine and cities getting addicted to the money they bring in, batches of comments always seem to crop up in support of them.

These supportive comments, seemingly written by real-life citizens with real-life concerns, pop up like buffelgrass on traffic camera articles throughout cyberspace.

Love them or hate them red light cameras work and the more they are debated the more people are aware of them. They should be at every intersection.

“Jane Smith,” who may or may not be related to John Doe, left that particular comment on the TucsonCitizen.com article entitled “Two more photo enforcement cameras mean two more Tucson traffic nightmares.”

Her exact belief is shared so exactly by others that they just happen to use her exact wording in their own comments supporting the cameras.

Love them or hate them red light cameras work and the more they are debated the more people are aware of them. They should be at every intersection.

The same comment also appears on traffic camera articles at:

SunSentinel.com in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., comment from “dq1153” (which is part of Jane Smith’s e-mail address, by the way)

WHEC.com in Rochester, NY, comment from “giggley”

SignOnSanDiego.com, comment from giggley

LynnwoodToday.com in Lynnwood, Wash., there goes giggley again

A commenter called “yogilives,” has been as busy as giggley leaving supportive comments about the cameras around cyberspace.

Yogilives’ comment on the Citizen article reads:

What a bunch of baloney, somehow drivers being overly cautious about going through an intersection is more dangerous than some reckless driver blowing through a red light into traffic? I think not. Enforcing our traffic laws deters reckless driving and the more coverage the more deterrence. No number of street cops can match the 24/7 coverage red light cameras provide so let’s use them, the life they save might be your own!

Yogilives’ comment at HuffingtonPost.com, on the article “LA’s Arizona Boycott Makes Exception For Red-Light Camera Operator,” reads:

That anyone would be surprised that LA officials hadn’t thought through the implications of their boneheaded political grandstanding is ridiculous. How exactly would the endangering the lives of Californian’s by refusing to properly and fully enforce our traffic laws benefit ANYONE, Arizonans, Californians Mexicans or Martians? Stay in your lane people, you’re barely qualified to represent the people of LA, let’s not have you muddle things up by getting into Arizona’s business.

In an attempt to perhaps keep spam suspicions at bay, yogilives throws in some local references, colloquial language and even personal details. In one of 18 comments left on sites affiliated with OregonLive.com, yogilives claims to be the father of two school age girls who, of course, will be kept safe for the rest of their lives if only more photo enforcement cameras would be installed at every single intersection across the nation.

What is this, a conspiracy?

You bet – or at least a movement known as “Astroturf lobbying,” which creates “fake grass roots” campaigns full of phony supporters with an ulterior motive in mind.

Money. Money. Money.

While the traffic camera comments may seem silly at best and annoying at worst, they sometimes morph into larger concerns in areas where traffic cameras are still up for discussion – and persuasion.

A November ballot initiative in Mukilteo, Wash., will let voters weigh in on its local traffic camera issues, a Washington State Wire article says.

The initiative lets folks decide if the city should reverse the City Council’s decision to install traffic cameras around town, have public votes on future traffic camera installations, and limit traffic camera fines to $20.

There goes the money, money, money.

A loud, yet mysterious organization, called the Mukilteo Citizens for Simple Government, filed a lawsuit to keep the initiative off the ballot.

“Backers of the initiative say it sure looks like the Arizona company that supplies the town with traffic cameras is behind the whole thing,” the article noted.

In making the charge, the red-light opponents have put Google to work, uncovering a motherlode of websites tailored for every city where a red-light camera initiative has made the ballot, or where automated cameras have come in for serious public scrutiny. In Mukilteo and 17 other cities, each website appears to be sponsored by a citizens’ group; each one uses identical wording on its content pages; each web domain name is owned by the same company, Advarion, Inc., of Houston, TX.

In other states, campaign disclosure documents reveal that Advarion is one of the contractors providing services to pro-camera campaigns financed by American Traffic Solutions of Scottsdale, Ariz. And the main reason these facts must be mentioned in such a roundabout way is that Mukilteo Citizens for Simple Government still hasn’t gotten around to filing campaign disclosure documents with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, which presumably would make its backing clear.

Love them or hate them, scammers and spammers are everywhere.

[tnipoll]

Thanks to reader Sam Jennings, who sent me an e-mail noting,”I found it hard to believe that many people LOVE these cameras so I dug a bit, and that’s what I find happening everywhere. I feel people should know it’s not genuine.”

What do you think?

Have you fallen for any Internet scams?

Would you admit it if you did?

Do you think Jane Smith, yogilives or giggley will comment on this article?

Do you think traffic cameras should be at every intersection?

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About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
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41 Responses to Traffic camera scam: Fake support of photo enforcement red light and speed cameras

  1. leftfield says:

    On the issue of fake postings, I think most would agree that it is deceptive and also inevitable.  It’s like those supposed grassroots organizations with names like “Concerned Citizens for a Rational Energy Policy” which turn out to be false front for an industry group.  What they share in common is a motive for money and/or power, the sine qua nons of American life.

    What I find interesting and surprising is that the traffic cameras have become another dividing-line issue like abortion or gay marriage in the American cultural war.  I never saw that coming.  Given the right-wing’s law and order stand my initial impression was that they would support the idea.  But they went the other way with the “starve the government” approach.  Of course, the right-wing’s love of law and order is always strongest when it’s the other guy who’s on the receiving end of the law.  “If you’re not doing anything illegal, you shouldn’t have to worry about your civil rights”; that sort of attitude.  They are also a good source of the kind of conspiracy theories that the right is so fond of (“I heard they were taking pictures of anyone with an “Annoy a Liberal” bumpersticker so that Obama can send in the UN soldiers to capture people when he takes over the country in a socialist revolution”). 

    I like traffic cameras, but when possible, I always set my cruise control to the speed limit (less on the interstate), so I don’t worry about the cameras.      

    • Rynski says:

      hiya leftfield,
      thanks for thoughtful and insightful comment.
      yeah, i guess all the deception et. al. is inevitable in every facet of life. sigh.
      also find it interesting about cameras becoming dividing-line issue. my inclination of late is believe that people these days are SEARCHING for reasons to oppose each other. argue for argument’s sake – whatever the cause may be. traffic cams give one more excuse, and a fine one at that.
      also very much amused by your conspiracy example about the bumper stickers – hahahha. love it! i hope they are not on the lookout for ones that say ‘i love my dog’ – ha!
      as for liking the cameras, i’m not a fan – but glad you can live in harmony with them – or at least SAY you like them….do i need to check your e-mail address to make sure you’re not just feigning to like them and are really named ‘yogilives’ or ‘giggley’? hahahahahh

      • sanity rules says:

        thats a very interesting take on things….. i dont think you can draw a conclusion that comments from an article determine the pulse of the people…. whenever there is an article about photo radar there are lots of comments…. in the beginning that is…. but check the same comments a day later….. they have moved on….so there was no real passion….. so how do we gauge the pulse of the people about PR? go to camerafraud.com….. lots of activity…. but only s handfull of people… check out camerafraud.com tucson…… zero activity…..  the group camerafraud had 22 months to collect 154,000 signatures to put an initiative on the ballot but failed by 34,000. they hit the state fair, concerts, phoenix open, cardinals games and many other places where a lot of people will be…. that tells me that the MAJORITY of az citizens really dont care about PR…. there are over 6 million arizonans….  the cameras will be back and the laws will be rewritten with some bite in them to be sure the fines get paid. dont be surprised to see the law changed so that the owner of the car gets the citation…. no asking the owner to identify the driver… this is how it is done in many states….

        it really is simple…. pay attention to the speed limits and be cautious at intersections…. the life you save just may be your own….

      • Jim Jimminy Jim Jim Jeroo says:

        Yeah it SHOULD be simple – “pay attention to the speed limits and be cautious at intersections”.
        So why isn’t it simple?  Because there’s M-O-N-E-Y in intersections.  THAT’S why.  Cameras will not stop someone who’s not paying attention.

      • sanity rules says:

        and cameras will not prevent someone from driving drunk, they can not stop an accident, they can not stop a murder or rape….. but then again…that is not what they were intened to do…. they are to take pictures of a car that exceeds the speed limit by 11 mph or more,,,, or a car that does not stop on yellow…. in fact a camera could not stop you from calling me names….. as evidenced by your posts to me…. 

      • Jim Jimminy Jim Jim Jeroo says:

        So….money.

      • sanity rules says:

        no jimmy…. correcting behavior…. with everything there are consequences…. if you get caught cheating in school there are consequences, if you lie and get caught there are consequences, when you break the law and get caught the consequence is not a time out or expulsion…. its a monetary fine..or worse…. its been that way for 100’s of years…. when the cameras go up people either modify their driving habits or they get citations in the mail…. its pretty simple… so i am not surprised you dont understand 

  2. ericheithaus says:

    Democracy Now! is the only national news source I trust.  All the rest CNN,  FOX and MSNBC are lying to us. How can you trust someone to tell you the news when they are taking ad money from BP? The problem is we have been taught that news anchors and reporters are honest people telling us truth. They are not, they are paid actors reading off a teleprompter with BP behind the curtain pulling all the strings.
    Democracy Now! does not accept ad money.

    • Rynski says:

      hey eric!
      thanks for input – and glad to hear you found a news source you trust. good criteria, for sure, is not taking any ad cash – a tough way to stay alive, but an honest one.
      it’s tough to believe a reporter/news anchor, for instance, telling us all about the benefits of buying a new couch now when the next segment is an ad for a furniture store – hahahah.
       

  3. sanity rules says:

    i love the cameras…. and i dont care if they are about money or not… i can see for my own eyes that they slow drivers down… they modify behavior…. i get accused all the time of working for ats or redflex, well it seems everyone who is pro camera gets that accusation…

    this is all you need to know about those who dislike the cameras… they will tell you, with a straight face that speeding doesnt cause accidents!!! who can argue with that logic? of course its hard to argue with somone WEARING A TIN HAT !!!! next they will say that intercourse doesnt cause pregnancy !!!

    if there really are fake supporters, then there must also be fake non supporters….

  4. Alan in Kent WA says:

    I hate the cameras as they are the lazy cop.  Santa FE NM has it in the charter that traffic enforcement cannot be used for city coffers.  Mukilteo WA has a ferry terminal.  Here in the P.R.S, ferries are an important part of the transportation equation.  I think that “they” think that the cameras will mainly get out of towners late for the ferry to Clinton (Whidbey Island) instead of local yokels.    

    • sanity rules says:

      then kent i suggest you get rid of your computer and send mail the old fashioned way… with a piece of paper,and envelope and a stamp…. cause those who use email and write posts are….. lazy?   the cameras are technology  they even the playing field for traffic enforcement…. we all know that when it comes to traffic, the cops catch only about half of one percent of all violators……  that is unacceptable…. but its not their fault….. so you think that someone late to the ferry is allowed to put others lives in danger to get there? what about someone late to work? are they also allowed to do this?
      why is photo and red light enforcment technology something we dont want to advance?  maybe its because there is a portion of people out there that dont want to take responsibility for their actions!!!

    • Rynski says:

      hey alan in kent wa,
      the out-of-towner dollars from the cameras can thus be viewed as an extension of the economic benefits of tourism, then – hahah.
      and sanity rules,
      why are you attacking him? boy o boy….

      • sanity rules says:

        that was not an attack…. he thinks the cameras represent lazy cops… i had to open his eyes….  if i was attacking him i would have opened his eyes with force!!!!

  5. tiponeill says:

    Not all of the comments in favor of the cameras were fake – mine for instance.
    I can never quite understand why the same people who are so insistent upon the meaning of “legal” have such a problem with efforts to enforce the law.
    But there is so much I still don’t understand..

  6. Jim Jimminy Jim Jim Jeroo says:

    Sanity Rules – you’re a total moron.  Even supporters don’t “love” the cameras.  Yes, speed does kill but someone with a perfect driving record blowing a light at the last millisecond and never coming close to even causing an accident because they’re a human being doesn’t deserve an automatic $100 fine.  The more technology is employed on our roads, the more being a human will become “illegal”.  What is really illegal is the raping of our citizens and our constitution on the basis of “safety”.
    Leftfield, here’s what I got: “On the issue of fake postings, I think most would agree that it is deceptive and also inevitable…BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH….I like traffic cameras, but when possible, I always set my cruise control to the speed limit (less on the interstate), so I don’t worry about the cameras.”
    If you got cruise control on in an area where there’s intersections, you’re pretty much a total moron too and probably one of the reasons they’ve used to justify putting up the stupid cameras in the first place.

    • sanity rules says:

      now that is an attack…..  tell me jimmy…..  in your world you think its acceptable to ignore the law… where does it end? first its traffic laws…. then its ok for someone to rob a bank cause they “really needed the money”…. and its ok to murder someone cause ” they really made you mad ”

      and carefull… all the talk about the constitution and robbing the citizens is making your tin hat show !!! 

    • sanity rules says:

      jimmy…wtf? you wrote….  ” the more technology is employed on our roads, the more being a human will be “illegal” “……   what the hell does that mean? are you smoking dope and drunk? or are you just plain stupid?

      • Jim Jimminy Jim Jim Jeroo says:

        Really?  You don’t see the correlation between a system that removes our judgment in favor of technology that fines us for not being perfect and making being a human illegal?  You’ve pretty much verified my original opinion.
        An attack?  Yes this is an attack.  But let’s be clear.  It’s the freedom of US citizens that’s under attack.  But thanks for comparing a lapse in judgment at an intersection comparable to robbing a bank.  Hello?
        But maybe you’re right.  Maybe instead of fewer cameras, we need more.  Why not mount tiny cameras with GPS systems on the shoulder of every citizen in the US?  And on the other shoulder a printer which will print out your fine for every mistake you make.  Because, if you’re doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear, right?  Everything from driving to close to the center line to taking a pencil home from the office to eating too much pizza will be illegal (because let’s face it – unhealthy people cost billions…don’t they?)
        Yeah that sounds great.  Let’s monitor America as if it’s one big prison system and anyone who opposes that must be smoking dope or drunk and wearing a tin hat.
        Fail.
        Moron.

      • sanity rules says:

        the bad thing about calling someone a moron on a message board is you cant see their reaction…. so … it is almost pointless.. anyway…

        jimmy…. you are all about excuses… and its obvious…. lapses in judgement? making mistakes !  your the kind that likes to kill the messenger….its never your fault… people like you are always looking for someone else to blame…..  i dont know about little camera mounts and people over eating pizza… i am only talking about cameras that monitor traffic….  but thats what tin hats like to do….. take things to the extreme….   

        is this where i am supposed to call you a name?  

      • Jim Jimminy Jim Jim Jeroo says:

        You compared running a light to robbery and murder and I’M extreme?  I mean I thought since that was the comparison  you’re using, I’d take it step in the opposite direction to make the point of how the cameras are setting a precedent: if it’s ok for them in this situation, why not others?  If you’re doing nothing wrong, why not have them everywhere?
         
        And sorry if someone saying they “love” traffic cameras immediately elicits the word “moron” – I can’t help it.  I love the freedom to use my own judgment and NOT giving it up in the name of safety.  I, and I don’t think anyone else, sees that as being a “tin hat”.
         
        I think you’re trying to fill paragraphs with words to make my side of this sound crazy.  “My kind” must be smoking something if I don’t enjoy the heck out of red light cameras, huh?  Writing me off as a tin hat means you don’t have to justify your answers anymore and if that’s what makes you feel like a winner, then so be it.   I’m sure Britain thought our forefathers were nuts before the Revolutionary War, too.  Too bad the freedom they fought for dies in the name of safety by those who are little better than the Mafia.  Sanity doesn’t rule much with you.
         
        But I’ve made my point and will choose here to digress.
         
        Crazy Drunk Pot-Smoking Tin Hat Guy signing off.
         
        Good day.
         
        PS: “I love the cameras“….moron!  See?  I just can’t help it.

  7. The Anti-Commie says:

    If you are for these cameras for any reason I think that you should put cameras all over your home and in your vehicle so the rest of us are sure that you do not do anything that is harmful to the environment, the animal kingdom, the human population as well as the lower species like worms, insect and plants.
    After you install these cameras you should stream  them to the web so the rest of us could insure your safety as well as that of the planet. We will send you the fines for your actions in the mail. If you refuse to pay you give up your right to live among us and then you get to move to North Korea.

  8. F E B says:

    The contractors would do more to solve their political problems if they could come up with a camera that only recorded speeding immigrants.

  9. JoeS says:

    When they tweak the yellow light times to increase tickets,  you know it’s all about the money,  and safety takes a back seat.

  10. sanity rules says:

    YES JIMMY !!!  it was me that made you write your first post here… and filled your head with the words to write….  you made yourself sound crazy…… and i am glad you have enough sense left to realize it….

    you are a tin hat period…. i justified my own position with what i wrote… i called you a tin hat cause you are one

  11. radmax says:

    I couldn’t care less about the cameras. On the few occasions when I can actually go the speed limit, I set my cruise to 5 MPH over and luxuriously motor to the next rolling blob of metal encased sheep. No, my problem is with the fretting Freddies who automatically go 10 MPH less than the posted speed at these revenue enhancement zones. I have taught myself to laugh maniacally at these yahoos, as the alternative is madness, or jail time. 😉

  12. leftfield says:

    The best part of the cameras is the sort of people that get all riled up about it and convinced that the government is picking on them while ignoring even greater threats are exactly the sort that need a tweak every now and then to be righteously indignant about their “rights”.  They “gots their rahts”, after all.  They live on this stuff and need it to keep them going.

  13. radmax says:

    It does seem a little sneaky to post pro comments if they are for money…it’s an election year though, so disingenuinity(from Radmax’s dictionary of words for all occasions 🙂 )…is excusable.

    • sanity rules says:

      excellent radmax…. you pieced it altogether for me!! and in this election year ms.brewer did what any politician seeking votes would do…. she didnt extend the contract and was very vague in her explanation therefore leaving wide open the possibility of them coming back in 2011!!  what the tin hats do not seem to grasp is that when they go back up….there will be tougher laws for paying the fines…… ie… you will not be able to just ignore it and hope you dont get served!!!  the original contract was rushed through by napolitano and with the urgency came the possibility that all bases were not covered…..given a second chance..they will get it right this next time….. i can hardly wait…. it will be just another defeat for the group camerafraud!!!

  14. dollarshort says:

    I wonder why cameras are not being used to observe 24/7 any government person, politician, law enforcement or person in a position of power etc…?
    Could it be that the logic that they used to control or monitor you does not apply to them?
     
     

    • sanity rules says:

      dollarshort…. cameras are not even watching you 24/7… why them? your neighbor is probably more of a threat than anyone you mentioned..

  15. Californian says:

    Learn from California…

    An article (headline:  “Special License Plates Shield Officials from Traffic Tickets”) pointed out that “in California there are nearly one million private vehicles having ‘confidential’ license plate numbers that are protected from easy or efficient look up, thus are effectively invisible to agencies attempting to process parking, toll, and red light camera violations.”  (OC Register, California, 4-4-08.)  In 2009 the Register revisited the subject and reported that the legislature was extending the “confidential” treatment to even more people!  Such “protected plate” lists exist in most states, probably including Arizona, and many are bloated, like California’s.  (In California the list includes politicians – even local ones – bureaucrats, retired cops, and many other govt. employees.  And their families!  Plus such oddities as veterinarians and museum guards.)  A Citizen reporter should investigate to see how many, and who, are on the list in Arizona.

    Early this year a California legislator launched a bill (AB 2097) hoping to change things so that those guys will receive their tickets. You can imagine how welcome the bill was among the politicians and bureaucrats in Sacramento. So, it died.  The bureaucrats are laughing at us as we pay our $$$ fines.

    • sanity rules says:

      there is no excuse for anyone other than an ambulance or cop ( all agencies) who is on duty to be protected from citations…..

      • BHT says:

        Here in Arizona, those NOT held legally accountable to pay their photo radar tickets include:

        out-of-country drivers (e.g. Sonoran plates)
        motorcyclists wearing helmets
        corporate vehicles
        any vehicle registered to someone with a post office box as their address
        anyone driving anyone else’s vehicle
        out-of-state vehicles (they will receive a notice in the mail but can ignore it without repercussions)
        vehicles with license plates covered in dirt
        anyone, no matter how “dangerous” they were driving, whose photo didn’t turn out clear enough

  16. BHT says:

    The problem with RLC intersections is that they aren’t there to catch red light runners but to exploit extremely short yellow lights and a loophole in the law (regarding the definition of an intersection) in order to CREATE red light runners. RLCs rely on intentionally poor/deceptive traffic engineering in order to create the illusion that the driver has either already entered the intersection or still has plenty of time to do so–then BAM, a $322 ticket for an “infraction” that, in many cases, isn’t even detectable to the naked eye.
    IMO, no rational, intelligent citizen who truly did their research on RLCs would actually support them. Because once you figure out the unethical traffic engineering practices going on at those intersections, there’s no denying that it’s a total scam.
    And this is why, IMO, the camera companies hire internet trolls: to sway those people ignorant to the details of the situation.

    • sanity rules says:

      Butt head tom or better known round these parts as BHT !! you put all that time and energy to a well thought out and written post and end it with that brainless garbage?  so….. does everyone who is pro camera work for the camera companies?  so , to go with your suspicion, who then would those trolls be targeting?  afterall if all pro camera work for the cameras…. then there is nobody left to selll an opinion to!!!

      • BHT says:

        Not all pro-cam people are trolls. But my point is that virtually all pro-RLC people have a blanket, knee-jerk attitude of “Yeah, let’s nail the red light runners!” or “RLCs make the streets safer” without valid data to back their claims and without investigating just how unethical the RLCs are. And when those people read comments from bona fide trolls, they are/can be further swayed.
        Last spring the city of Tucson did an experiment at Oracle & River where they lengthened the left yellow arrow from 3.05 seconds to 4.0 seconds (4.0 is the length at Oracle & River, BTW). What happened? Red light “running” was reduced by over 50%. So how did the city respond? They shortened the yellow length back to 3.05 seconds and added more RLCs. My guess is if the average pro-RLC citizen were made aware of such tactics, they’d think twice about supporting the cameras.
         
        P.S. Perhaps next time, instead of name-calling, you could direct your energy towards something more constructive, such as using proper punctuation?
         
        P.P.S. I’m a woman.

  17. Peggy says:

    Here is where I am having a problem. I received two tickets in the mail from the same day (dropping kids off at school and picking them up). They said I had been clocked at 27 in a 20 mph zone both times. I may have been going 21 or 22, but there is no way i drive 27 in a school zone! Preposterous!!! But you can bet that I never went over 17 or 18 after that and I drive a prius, with a very large digital display of my speed so i KNOW how fast I am going… “fast forward” (punny, I know) to yesterday’s mail:  TWO MORE TICKETS!!! both saying I drove 27 and 29 in the school zone!!!  I have to get a lawyer, join the tea party or SOMETHING!!!! How do we fight back when the MACHINES say one thing and law abiding citizens clearly say another? These tickets are $124 each AND they charge an extra $9 to pay online per citation. This just does not seem right to me.  Where are we living again? 

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