Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Big Brother Is Watching You!

The State of Connecticut recently approved the use of traffic cameras. These devices will automatically issue moving violations and steep fines to drivers who are observed speeding or running red lights.

Well, the tickets will not be issued to the drivers, since the traffic cameras only record the offending vehicles’ license plates. So, good luck getting your brother-in-law to pay the fine after you let him borrow your car. And good luck trying to convince your insurance company not to raise your premiums because you weren’t even in the car when the traffic infraction occurred. 
State legislators insist this new law and these fancy traffic cameras will cause drivers to obey the laws, which will reduce the number of roadway accidents, especially the recent rash of people driving through red lights and crashing into other vehicles. I suppose that’s true, because we all know that teenagers who steal cars and go joy riding are very concerned about making sure the owner of the stolen vehicle does not get a moving violation and fine.

Traffic cameras have been in operation in other states for a number of years. I read about a situation in Florida a few years ago where a funeral procession was driving from the church to the cemetery. Police escorts were directing traffic, and at an intersection, a cop waved multiple cars through to keep the procession intact, even though the light was red.

Every single one of those cars got a ticket in the mail, plus a hefty fine, for running a red light. The traffic camera had no way of knowing a police officer was overriding the red light, so all the vehicles got snagged. 

Here’s the exciting part of this Florida story: the people who got tickets and fines had no way to appeal the infraction. If they paid the fine to avoid late fees, it was considered to be an admission of guilt. If they did not pay the fine, and tried to explain the situation to the motor vehicle department and/or law enforcement personnel, they got nowhere. Meanwhile, the late fees kept piling up.

Eventually, squads of commandos burst into their homes at 2 am, dragged them out of bed, tossed them into the back of unmarked vans, which drove off to an undisclosed government location. The traffic violators were never heard from again.
OK, I made up that last part. But the no appeal process and compounding late fees parts are true.

When our noble ruling class politicians tell us that a particular piece of legislation is sure to improve our lives, it’s not that I don’t believe them. It’s just that I’ve developed a tiny bit of skepticism over the years. (I am, of course, using the definition of “tiny bit” that means: larger than Mount Everest.)

The first time I remember having skepticism was almost three decades ago. The Republicans had swept the 1994 midterm elections on a “reduce the size of government” platform. A couple of months later, President Clinton, who always knows his audience, declared at the State of the Union Address: “The era of big government is over!”

At the time, our national debt was almost $5 trillion. Now, it’s about to hit $32 trillion. Something tells me the era of big government did not quite come to an end in the mid-90s.

I suppose there’s not a whole lot I can do about the new traffic cameras, other than to make sure I stop when the light turns yellow rather than accelerate through the intersection. After all, at my age I don’t think my achy back and knees are going to like it if commandos toss me into an unmarked van. 


  1. Oh, my. Mr. Dunn is certainly agitated today. Talk about exaggeration. Packs of wild teenagers speeding through lights and whole funerals in FL getting red light tickets!
    What I want to know is does this include the hearse? Because if so it raises a serious legal question. Obviously the undertaker owing the vehicle would get a ticket but what about the dead person. Do they get one too? I mean they flew right thru that red light just like everybody else did. And what I want to ask is .....can the state collect that fine from the deceased's estate?

    The truth here, folks, in FL and I would assume CT is that these light's films are later monitored by a person who can see a funeral or other type circumstance and then a ticket is not issued. If an error is made the film is right there to support you or prove you wrong if you wish to contest the ticket.
    I think Mr. Dunn is upset because, as he said, he is going to have to give up his habit of slamming down on the gas when the light is yellow and there really isn't enough time to make it. Which is just the sort of thing that causes accidents or even pedestrian deaths. See? The law is working already

    Ruth O'Keefe

  2. A little more research reveals that In FL at least the instructions on how to contest a camera ticket are right there on line with printable forms and everything. And I could find no story of a whole funeral getting tickets. All I found was one car in one 2012.... and when the woman objected the town dropped the ticket charges. So it doesn't look like Armageddon is coming just yet after all.
    Ruth O'Keefe