US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s plan to ‘promote speed safety cameras’ is raising the troubling specter of ubiquitous automated traffic enforcement in the style of the UK, where the cameras are widely despised.
Buttigieg’s 42-page plan road safety plan unveiled on Thursday and backed by $14 billion in funding from the new infrastructure bill, contained only brief mention of the speed camera plan, but it was enough to set alarm bells ringing for worried motorists.
Buttigieg’s strategy recommends pilot programs to study and promote greater use of speed cameras, which he says could provide more ‘equitable’ enforcement than police traffic stops, as the cameras will have no awareness of the race of the driver.
‘They have done nothing for road safety, but are catching hundreds of thousands of drivers of which the majority are otherwise driving safely.’
However, Hampshire Police revealed last year that the camera has been recording ‘incorrect readings’ for vehicles with a ‘high flat rear’ and at least two drivers have been able to prove they were wrongly caught by the camera so far.
Interestingly a 2013 study by the RAC (Royal Automobile Club) Foundation highlighted how cameras in some areas had actually caused accidents rather than preventing them.
A total of 21 camera sites had shown data where collision rates had risen ‘markedly’ since cameras were put in place.