back to article A tiny Ohio village turned itself into a $3m speed-cam trap. Now it has to pay back the fines

A tiny village in America has been ordered to pay back more than $3m in speeding fines it collected from motorists – after its claims of "sovereign immunity" were laughed out of court. The town of New Miami, an hour's drive from Cincinnati, Ohio, boasts a population of just 2,200, and an annual budget of $1.75m. That budget …

  1. Oh Homer
    Headmaster

    "raise property taxes slightly"

    With a population of only 2200, which presumably translates into about half to one quarter that many properties, they'd have to raise property taxes quite a bit more than "slightly" to get the $3 million they've just lost.

    Not that I have any sympathy for these neoliberal con-artists.

    1. Ole Juul Silver badge

      Re: "raise property taxes slightly"

      And what would be the name of the line item on the property tax bill? I have a few suggestions.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "raise property taxes slightly"

      Neo-liberals? In Ohio? Surely you jest?

      (I know, and don't call you Shirley.)

      Coming from a Nazi though, I'd take it as a compliment if I lived in Ohio. But I don't, so I voted you down instead.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: "raise property taxes slightly"

        Use of the term "neo-liberal" is a sure-fire indicator of a bad argument.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: use of a term is categorically...

          I didn't get it's applicability myself, but I do recognize hypocrisy.

        2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: "raise property taxes slightly"

          Use of the term "neo-liberal" is a sure-fire indicator of a bad argument.

          Unless, of course, the argument is about discredited (right-wing) economic theories.

          Which this one wasn't. Carry on...

    3. Mage Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: "raise property taxes slightly"

      There was a small town with a parked school bus as a "motorist" trap in a Rockford's Files episode.

      What is it with USA and law enforcement. Is the problem elected Sheriffs?

      Also I noticed that poorer people (any skin shade) are housed in trailer parks or cheap wooden houses OUTSIDE the town or city limits. I was told it was so they would have no vote in local councils.

      1. Wade Burchette
        Joke

        Re: "raise property taxes slightly"

        "Also I noticed that poorer people (any skin shade) are housed in trailer parks or cheap wooden houses OUTSIDE the town or city limits. I was told it was so they would have no vote in local councils."

        Actually, it is to keep tornadoes away from city centers. Rednecks and tornadoes love trailer parks, and if the trailer park is away from the city, then the tornado will naturally gravitate toward that and not the city, thus saving the precious Wal-Mart.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: "raise property taxes slightly"

        > There was a small town with a parked school bus as a "motorist" trap in a Rockford's Files episode.

        It's been used as a plot device in a number of 1970s US TV series. I recall it being in Charlie's Angels and The Invisible Man amongst others.

        Corruption across much of the USA is just as bad as various undemocratic regiemes the US government like to denounce (and so is the lack of democracy in many of these areas)

        1. lckysquirrel

          corruption

          Mostly in the south and big cities. Same kind of greedy assholes.

          https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/ranking-the-states-from-most-to-least-corrupt/

        2. Eponymous Cowherd

          Re: "raise property taxes slightly"

          Oh gawd. I remember the Invisible Man episode (David McCallum).

          Feel positively ancient now...........

      3. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: "raise property taxes slightly"

        Is the problem elected Sheriffs?

        I think the problem is "revenue". I can't think of any place in the US (and I'm probably wrong) where the sheriff isn't elected. But without raising taxes, some cities opt for the traffic violators to make up the shortfall in cash. Here in Oregon, there's 3 towns I can think of off the top of my head that when you hit the "city limit" sign, you best be doing the posted speed limit. And if you're driving a semi-trailer rig, the fine is even higher.

        1. not.known@this.address Bronze badge
          Big Brother

          Re: "raise property taxes slightly"

          "Here in Oregon, there's 3 towns I can think of off the top of my head that when you hit the "city limit" sign, you best be doing the posted speed limit. And if you're driving a semi-trailer rig, the fine is even higher."

          Assuming you are being serious rather than trolling and setting aside for the moment that some places feel reducing speed limits is a better way to improve road safety rather than teaching idiots to keep off the road/highway and out of the traffic, there is normally a reason for the posted speed limit and you probably shouldn't be going faster.

          I am a driver and I often complain about the speed limit on some roads (especially when the gits* in charge decided to change it purely as a revenue stream**), but I also understand that the limit is there for a reason and it is not up to me to ignore it just because I don't like it.

          I have also seen the results of idiots driving faster than is safe for the conditions and would say that, without exception, the bigger the vehicle the worse the carnage - so why should being an idiot in a semi not be punished harder than someone being an idiot in a car?

          *Git = 'Awkward or obtuse person', which describes some of the people responsible for deciding speed limits in the UK perfectly.

          **There are several roads in the south-east of England that were, for many years, "national speed limit" roads and people rarely had accidents on them. Then, when the local authorities could keep (some or all of) the revenue generated, these same roads suddenly became accident black spots and the gits reduced the limits on a load of them but somehow managed to forget to put the new signs up where they could easily be seen (A24 Michelham Bends between Leatherhead and Dorking was the first and best example to spring to mind - there are many, many more!). Or they will slowly extend "temporary" reductions brought in for road maintenance work and "forget" to remove these when the work is completed.

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: "raise property taxes slightly"

            No sir.. not trolling. The I-5 corridor has two areas that I know of and there's another one on Highway 1, the coast highway. Might be more on the coast though since it's a heavy tourist route. The speed limit on I-5 is nominally 65 mph and being rural, it's mostly ignored by most folks who will run at 9 mph or so over the limit. Where these "traps" are, is at the extreme edge of the city (small town actually) limit. The cops lie in wait at that borderline. One of the cities does drop it's speed limit to 50 mph and just after (maybe a few yards) there will be a radar car sitting in the bushes.

            The difference is with other towns, they usually have a "50 mph ahead" sign on the highway to notify the drivers of a speed limit change.

          2. Pedigree-Pete
            Meh

            UK roads reclassified from "National" to "limited".

            Note the change crossing from Berkshire to Surrey. Perfectly safe dual carriageway in Berkshire pulled back to 50mph on the Surrey side. National (= 60 mph or 70 for dual carriageway). Go figure (and note the appearance of speed cameras). Coincidence? PP

      4. Jtom Bronze badge

        Re: "raise property taxes slightly"

        I think the main problem is you don't know the difference between a fictional TV show and reality. And people aren't 'housed' anywhere. They live where the choose and can afford, same as in the UK.

        1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

          Re: "raise property taxes slightly"

          Raising the property taxes really won't help much. The tax rate is already pretty high at ~1.7% and a quick web search shows the property values are just the opposite with most if not all falling below $100k. Compounding that is the fact that there are only about 900 households in the village making $3M a debt over $3k each which is nearly 10% of median household income. It's pretty clear this isn't a wealthy area and it's more than likely going to result in the village being forced into receivership or bailed out by a higher/larger entity. I'm all for fining the greedy sods who put this plan into place but I don't see where even selling off the village owned real estate would cover this debt given the low real estate values.

    4. fajensen Silver badge

      Re: "raise property taxes slightly"

      Not that I have any sympathy for these neoliberal con-artists.

      The Church of Neoliberalism worship The Market - so, lets go with that: All of these folks behind this little scheme, they have kidneys, yes? They only need one kidney?!

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: "raise property taxes slightly"

        Fuck off back to the Grauniad, please. This place is for grownups.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "raise property taxes slightly"

          Based on the strength of the argument - telling someone to F.O. you show your superior logic and maturity.

          1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

            Re: "raise property taxes slightly"

            If somebody uses neoliberal in an argument, they aren't worth arguing with. They're just a source of noise.

    5. HausWolf

      Re: "raise property taxes slightly"

      Sorry, southern Ohio is full of conservatives.... very full of them.

  2. elDog Silver badge

    And it doesn't sound like the actual residents of the town were responsible

    Other than electing/selecting some dimwits.

    This is an uplifting story about justice. One that my poor country sorely needs right now.

    1. smudge Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: And it doesn't sound like the actual residents of the town were responsible

      And it doesn't sound like the actual residents of the town were responsible

      Other than electing/selecting some dimwits.

      "And you can't blame us for Trump. We only elected him."

      1. PrometheusPB

        Re: And it doesn't sound like the actual residents of the town were responsible

        Well, Trump was never "elected", he was installed by the "electoral college" through a process called "gerrymandering", which is how republicans overthrow election results, and that is what the US calls "democracy".

        1. fishman

          Re: And it doesn't sound like the actual residents of the town were responsible

          "Well, Trump was never "elected", he was installed by the "electoral college" through a process called "gerrymandering",which is how republicans overthrow election results, and that is what the US calls "democracy"."

          Gerrymandering could have only a tiny affect the electoral college - only Nebraska and Maine give out the electoral votes by congressional district; the other states are winner take all. Nebraska is solidly Republican and gerrymandering would have not had any impact; Maine state legislatures are mostly controlled by Democrats - the state legislatures are where the gerrymandering gets approved - so any gerrymandering would have been probably done by the Democrats.

          For those outside the US, gerrymandering is when a voting district geography is reshaped in such a way that the included population will vote in a way the "designer" desires. The voting district can end up in with a strange distorted shape. Both parties are guilty of using it.

        2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: And it doesn't sound like the actual residents of the town were responsible

          Trump was entirely properly elected by a process acting as it was designed to. He's an arsehole, yes, but politically speaking he's legitimate.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And it doesn't sound like the actual residents of the town were responsible

          PrometheusPB wrote: "Well, Trump was never "elected", he was installed by the "electoral college" through a process called "gerrymandering", which is how republicans overthrow election results, and that is what the US calls "democracy"."

          It's also one of the ways Democrats overthrow election results when they win, if you ask Republican supporters, along with promising the earth and then blaming everyone else when they fail to deliver (just like Labour in the UK, funnily enough. Just ask the students in Canterbury). Only you won't normally get to read that or see it on the news because Trump does not have quite the same, ah, "cosy" relationship with the Media as his opposition. But since he *did* win, why have all those actors and other 'meeja personalities' and celebrities etc not left the country as they promised?

          Further proof of Democrat "intelligence" can be seen in the way they accuse Russia of winning the election for Trump but then started running around screaming in panic screaming Trump was going to start a war with the same people who were supposed to be the sole reason he got elected...

        4. Jtom Bronze badge

          Re: And it doesn't sound like the actual residents of the town were responsible

          Sigh. You don't understand the Electoral College; don't understand gerrymandering; and you don't understand that the US is a republic, not a democracy. Your post is too wrong to even be called wrong.

          These are the United States. The states elect the President, not the aggregate vote of the people. In all but two small, Democratically-controlled states, the Party winning the vote gets the entire state's votes in the Electoral College. Gerrymandering is not involved.

          It's very much like the baseball World Series in the US. The winner is the one who wins four games in a seven game series. Quite often, that is not the team that scored the most total runs over the entire series. It's the best way to select the person most representative of the wishes of the entire country, not just the coastal megatropolises.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And it doesn't sound like the actual residents of the town were responsible

      They were and still are victims of their own failure to police their own government, as is the case far and wide and deep. It's exhausting. I'm not feeling uplifted.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And it doesn't sound like the actual residents of the town were responsible

      Other than them actually breaking the law by speeding, no, not at all responsible, I mean, who knew, you break the law, you get punished...

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: And it doesn't sound like the actual residents of the town were responsible

        When UK speed cops (other countries possibly too) spot a driver going a tad over the speed limit they have the discretion to warn them and send them on their way. A camera might be placed to deter speeding in a high risk or speeding prone area, but they capture everyone. Treating the habitual speeder doing high speeds in busy times and the ordinary individual drifting over the limit a bit when it's quiet ( late at night?) exactly the same. And some of these cameras are placed to catch the unwary, but let the locals zoom along, slowing for the camera.

        I got caught in one of the latter. Yet near my home cars zoom along the local dual carriageway well over the limit, consistently, hour after hour. There's an average speed check. 50 MPH. I've never yet heard of anyone being fined. I've tried to get the information from the authorities and they don't claim to be fining many people. This makes me very resentful. If there is no justice in how the system works it loses its credibility.

        1. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: And it doesn't sound like the actual residents of the town were responsible

          This makes me very resentful. If there is no justice in how the system works it loses its credibility.

          In the UK there is no justice in speed enforcement.

          At the outset of this post let me say I have never been charged with or convicted of any offence, including motoring offences. I've not even had a speed awareness course. That, however, does not imply I obeyed the law....... I've also got 20 years no claims bonus despite never protecting it.

          There's lots of arguments about the dangers of speed, which are usually simplistic and most often miss the point about safe driving and accident avoidance (almost all accidents are caused by lack of obervation, anticipation, and correct & timely reaction). A point routinely missed by the anti-speed lobby is that often perfectly sensible limits are reduced for political reasons, leading to an inevitable uptick in non-compliance, which in turn leads to the deployment of cameras, which leads to the resentment & disdain in which the law is held. In the case of this article, it has literally been used as a tax and not as law enforcement.

          I've never been caught speeding, despite speeding for decades - though I rarely speed now. I'd keep my speeding to out of town areas and motorways, but when I was younger, and before it was an instant ban, I'd regularly be doing 100mph on quiet motorways (overnight). Fast reflexes and good observation kept my licence clean. And yet, during that period I watched as older drivers such as parents of my friends, my dad etc amassed points as though they made prizes, and usually for far lower speeds than mine. I presume they were getting caught because they lacked the reflexes or observational skills to avoid cameras. Where's the justice in that?

        2. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: And it doesn't sound like the actual residents of the town were responsible

          They were ticketing people for doing at least 46, which is 11mph over the posted speed limit, that's fairly generous even by UK standards.

          Of course, the question is, was the limit 35mph because the road was unsafe, or because that brought in more revenue? It looks like it was the latter.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Presumably at some point everyone in New Miami will realize that they are only costing themselves money and maybe the council should raise property taxes slightly to cover the work it needs to do."

    They could just dump it on Optotraffic.

    1. PhilipN Silver badge

      dump it on Optotraffic

      Quite so. Since the original scheme was cooked up between above-named and the council I do not know why none of the lawyers have found a way to charge conspiracy, the civil kind by joining them as co-defendants.

      After all, the first rule of litigation is to target the entity with the deepest pockets.

      AND Optotraffic got 40%.

      I can only guess at the sort of vibes at weekend tennis matches, softball games or church gatherings, when there's only 2,000 people. Must be nearly as bad as rural U.K. when Harriet gets to present the raffle prizes at the church fete instead of Henrietta. If looks could kill ....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: dump it on Optotraffic

        Yes. The systemic flaw exposed by this episode is just another example of the perversity of introducing the profit motive to law enforcement. The most egregious example is of course the private prison industry, and perhaps the most raw example is the exercise of civil forfeiture procedures. Fundamental reform should assure that law enforcement is never a revenue center, but that the value of such endeavors be derived solely from the inherent value of enforcement.

        But as (neoliberal) Nancy Pelosi famously remarked in recent years: We're capitalists.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd be happy if OUR speed cameras only sent you a bill if you were 15kph or more over the speed limit. I'd also be ECSTATIC if it was only $100 or so, and there's no mention of demerit points. I wonder how their road toll compares to ours in Australia.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Try not speeding. Total fine $0

      1. PrometheusPB

        Speed limits have never saved a single life

        Speed limits don't save lives, proper education on how to handle a motor vehicle, along with basic common sense does. But those two things are extraordinarily rare in the US. The Autobahn has no speed limits, and it is safer than nearly all of the US's entire highway infrastructure.

        US driving test: Parallel park, use a turn signal. That's it. No training on handling icy roads, or a highway tire blowout (or other mechanincal failure), no defensive driving, not a word on collision avoidance, nothing. They will never teach you how to drive a vehicle, but are sure happy to collect fines. It is actually illegal to practice or train another driver in an abandoned parking lot when it snows, because it is deemed "reckless driving"...when actually it is training to create "wreckless driving".

        I got a ticket for it. When it went to court, I said the officer forgot the "W". The magistrate asked me what that was supposed to me, and I plainly said to them that not only am I a highly-trained racing driver that is far more skilled at driving than ANY police officer nationwide, but that I was making a safer driver out of my apprentice because there is NO REAL DRIVER EDUCATION TO BE LICENSED to handle a 4,400lb (2000Kg) vehicle on the road. I also defined the term "wreckless" to them, and noting that I had had no collisions that were my fault EVER on my driving record, the judge begrudgingly relented and waived the ticket with the false declaration the "the officer wote down the incorrect statute for which the alleged violation was to be enforced."

        I was observed speeding in another incident, and refused to stop. Thanks to the ER staff, I was able to get that thrown out because I was trransporting someone to the hospital with a critical injury, and had I waited for an ambulance, they would have died only minutes later from when I got them into ER. Again, my driving record and my racing license proved that I was doing the right thing, and was far above-and-beyond capable of what I was doing, as well as my instant move to action saving their life.

        Speed limits are there for two reasons:

        1) To keep the uneducated and unskilled driver from going beyond their capabilities when handling a motor vehicle (shouldn't that be taught in driving school?)

        2) To give the local PD a means of fundraising so they can buy al those expensive toys that they cannot get governmental approval on, like the $1.3 million sculpture sitting in a certain police department office as you read this, or an expensive Italian sportscar as an alleged pursuit vehicle, in a town that has never seen a single high-speed pursuit over 90mph, much less having ever had to chase down a supercar fleeing the law.

        What does this sculpture have to do with law enforcement? Absolutely nothing, they just wanted the lobby to be prettier, and to defiantly flaunt their skills at brazen theft (aka civil forfeiture). L.A. might have a justification for a supercar, but then again not, because the radio travels faster than any manmade vehicle ever conceived, and helicopters have a knack for not only avoiding traffic, but generally going faster than most cars can go on the road, as they do not need to avoid traffic and have a literal bird's eye view.

        Because in America, law enforcement is above the law, and it is heresy to question it. That's called "freedom". They are even so boldly cocky to detemine the fine for speeding at $101...as if the extra dollar made any point other than to force you to get $120 out of the atm and to disrupt your finances.

        How do I exact vengeance upon fines that I am allegedly due? I pay in pennies. Yes, I come in with a wheelbarrow of pennies. The clerk may complain, but I tell them, "Nobody said criminal enterprise was easy, but you chose to work for it. Now take my First Amendment protest and get to counting." Then I seek a higher court, and have it overturned, so they have to pay it all back. Justice is sweet, but it would be better to get justice from those supposedly upholding it. I grow tired of having to do it myself when "law enforcement" doesn't do it by itself (which I was led to believe was their sworn duty).

        When justice doesn't pay, pay it back with justice....in pennies.

        1. drewsup

          Re: Speed limits have never saved a single life

          Dont know much about these days, but in the early 80's our drivers ed in school did do exactly this, to top it off, i learned to drive in winter, in New England. Our instructor would take us to an icy parking lot, let you get up to 25mph, then slam on the brakes, you didn't pass until you could keep the car straight in a skid. His words still reverberate in my head after all these years, going down a snowy 35 MPH road with 2 bare tracks of asphalt to keep the wheels in.." Track.....Track.....keep Tracking......

        2. H in The Hague Silver badge

          Re: Speed limits have never saved a single life

          "The Autobahn has no speed limits"

          No longer true. Speed limits along many stretches, sometimes fairly low too. At least in the parts of Germany I've driven in (west and south). Which parts of that country are you familiar with?

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Speed limits have never saved a single life

          There are private driving instruction companies, at least here in Colorado, that use a skid track and a fast maneuver track as part of their instruction. Not the cheapest option, buy well worth it for my kids. I've seen them use the skills in real life situations and did not regret one cent of the cost.

          So. Maybe it isn't part of the state test, but the instruction is certainly available.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Speed limits have never saved a single life

          Speed limits have never saved a single life...

          You wrote a massive comment there, but sadly you lost me at your title.

          Speed limits *have* saved lives. Lots of them.

          Your rant comes across as arrogant and naive. I started writing a response, but honestly you've made so many bad points that I could have been writing it all day.

          By the way -- "reckless / wreckless"... no, sorry, you're not the first to come up with that clever little wordplay.

        5. RandomFactor
          Stop

          Re: Speed limits have never saved a single life

          "Again, my driving record and my racing license proved that I was doing the right thing, and was far above-and-beyond capable of what I was doing"

          Perhaps the right thing in that particular circumstance, however the above statement edges into hubris.

          A driving record doesn't show how many accidents a person has caused, and isn't complete until you are done driving.

          A racing license is for a very different environment and proves little relevant to the public roads.

          If you think about it, the public roads

          - are a least common denominator public cooperative. Drivers won't always react properly to new situations.

          - comprise of 'untrained' and distracted drivers that won't even see a vehicle coming at high speeds in time

          - are poking along for hours every day, not just for a short blistering race once a week. Attention levels aren't the same.

          - hold vehicles with a fraction of the safety and performance features of a 'race' car, street suspension, etc.

          - no on-hand medical and emergency vehicles when a problem occurs

          - no timeouts for an accident

          - cars crossing traffic, going in different directions and behaving unpredictably

          - pedestrians, kids, pets, grandmas

          - roads that are not perfect but instead have potholes, dips, barriers, tractors and other hazards that don't exist on a race track

          - visibility designed for a fraction of racing speeds

          - etc etc add your own............

        6. ShadowDragon8685

          Re: Speed limits have never saved a single life

          Your story has a whiff of the unbelievable about it, but if you actually were speeding to save the life of an injured person in your automobile, then the affirmative defense of "necessity" applies, and you shouldn't have had to produce your racing license at all. But still, good on the judge for hucking that sucker out - assuming it's true.

          Frankly, it sounds a little like wish-fulfillment internet BS. (Goodness knows I've had times I've wished I could say something like that.) But in the case it's not, have an upvote anyway.

      2. NorthIowan

        Re: Try not speeding. Total fine $0

        Which sounds good but unfortunately is not foolproof.

        A local town, Fort Dodge Iowa, had similar a speed radar that they setup in different locations around town. Made it a civil fine to discourage getting the courts involved.

        But one time their were lots of complaints from people getting fines for doing +50 MPH in a downtown 25 MPH zone. Of course the radar company claimed the radars were "always right". But when tested on that street, the radar just happened to double the speed of some larger vehicles like delivery trucks and school buses. Excuse was, "must not have been correctly calibrated".

        It was good they did the testing because the school bus driver was going to loose their job if the ticket/fine stayed.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Try not speeding. Total fine $0

          People complained and so did’t get fined due to faulty equipment? So the fine was indeed $0. Challenge the fine, show the fault happens, company pays costs. Simple. Anyone previously fined that did not challenge reimbursed by company + compensation for losses. Good old market forces then ensure companies make sure their shit works. It’s about time drivers started obeying laws instead of crying about how oppressed they are.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Chemical Bob
          FAIL

          Re: Try not speeding. Total fine $0

          "Of course the radar company claimed the radars were "always right". But when tested on that street, the radar just happened to double the speed of some larger vehicles like delivery trucks and school buses. Excuse was, "must not have been correctly calibrated"."

          Yep. Kieren does not seem to understand that allowing the speed camera manufacturer to get a percentage of the revenue is a bit like having the fire department work on commission.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Try not speeding. Total fine $0

            Chemical Bob

            Please SHHH. Don't put those things on the interwebs. Once Crapita take over running the UK's fire services we don't want to be giving them ideas.

            1. Chemical Bob
              Unhappy

              Re: Try not speeding. Total fine $0

              ...sorry

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Try not speeding. Total fine $0

              What ideas? It's old hat and one reason fire departments are universally public institutions now. Back then, extortion was a common tactic of private fire companies ("Sure would be a shame if this business burned down, hmm hmm...").

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Ah yes, another flawless citizen...

        ...who never violates any laws, no matter how trivial. If only we could all be like you and live in Paradise.

      4. Munchausen's proxy

        "Try not speeding. Total fine $0"

        Speeding is so ubiquitous in the U.S. that 'scrupulously staying just under the limit' has been used occasionally by police as an indicator for suspected impaired driving, justifying a stop.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      > I wonder how their road toll compares to ours in Australia.

      It's about 50% higher.

      The part that's not mentioned is whether the road had its speed limit lowered to 35mph for just the stretch in question and if the signs were obscured. (these are both common speed trap techniques).

      The engineering speed of the road is another question (that's the statistical mean of free-running traffic plus one standard deviation. If it's above the speed limit then the speed limit is set wrong and/or the road is badly engineered)

      1. lckysquirrel

        Check out the big brain on Alan (Pulp Fiction Samuel Jackson accent - not snarky - good comment)!

  5. Halcin

    And what's the betting the "civil servants" have "immunity" to the consequences of their actions.

    1. Maelstorm Bronze badge

      Actually, here in the USA, nobody is above the law...not even the President of the USA (Who is currently the emperor with no clothes, Donald Trump.). So if the "civil servants" are doing something illegal, they either be fined, go to jail, or both, depending on the offense. A while back (2010 I think) in Bell, CA, city most of the city counsel was arrested for various things...like pay increases... You can find the news story online.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Maelstorm

        Bullshit. Trump is absolutely above the law. So are Ryan, Nunes, McConnell...all of them. None of them will ever be held to account for their actions. The Republicans will not only sweep 2018's midterms, they will fucking crush them. They'll be reading about this for the next 200 years.

        2020 will see another Trump election. 2024 will see a different Trump elected. This sort of neo-Monarchy won't end in our lifetimes.

        The Democrats are fooling themselves if they think there's some sort of "Democratic wave" coming. There is not. If you actually look at the statistics, compare the opinions of "adults" versus "likely voters", and start accounting for distribution across the various districts you quickly see that there is no hope.

        Democrats need quite a bit more popular support from likely voters - not just polled "adults" - to overcome the conservatives in any meaningful way. They don't have it. Democrats also have no real leadership, negative cohesion, and have this problem where the people who are nominally in charge (Schumer, et al) willingly and repeatedly throw major Democrat constituencies (immigrants, latinos, etc.) under the bus. Democrats have always given those groups the shaft, basically saying "who else you going to vote for"?

        What doesn't occur to Democrats is that when you promise a bunch of people everything, then treat that same bunch of people like shit, and then tell them to vote for you "otherwise the other guys will treat you poorly", it doesn't result in you getting votes. It results in those people staying home. Worse: it results in them becoming bitter and disillusioned. Ultimately, those peoples' negativity is infectious and they convince others to stay home.

        The USA won't even start to change unless people who believe that the USA should change get more votes than those who benefit from the carnage. Republicans are a lost cause, and Democrats can't get their shit together enough to motivate turnout. Even if they did somehow manage to get elected, chances are unbelievably slim that the right group of Democrats would win out, and laws would come into force that actually held people in power responsible for their actions.

        Americans are a defeated people. Cowed and broken by generations of lies and deceit. The Americans were raised to believe in tripe like "ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country".

        Americans have forgotten that the government exists to serve the people, and not the other way around. They have grown used to abuses of power, and simply see it as the natural course of events. They even react violently if you suggest to them that this is abnormal in western nations: that in other countries the government is (mostly) made to work for it's people. They laugh at the idea that there exist places where corruption is punished, and trying to act above the law can even land you in the not-at-all-nice jail.

        That is why people in power are above the law in the USA. Because the people over whom they hold power are so utterly broken that they don't even believe those in power can be held to account.

        Justice is the exception in America. And we'll be long dead before it ever becomes the norm.

        1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

          Re: @Maelstorm

          I don't care for McConnell's or Ryan's policies, but at the moment I can't think what laws they have violated. Until you can establish that they have broken laws, "being held to account for their actions" means being voted out of office--unlikely, I agree--or losing a majority in Congress. We'll see there.

          I also don't really know how a speed trap story turned into a referendum on 21st-Century US politics. Speed traps have been around, and not only in the US, for a good 100 years: Kipling's short story "The Village That Voted the Earth Was Flat" (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/13085/13085-h/13085-h.htm#page163) is dated 1913.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Actually, here in the USA, nobody is above the law...not even the President of the USA

        Sure - It's just that there are very different enforcement protocols for rich people and for poor people and for differently coloured people (probably why identity politics is such a big thing in the USA).

        No wealthy American will ever be jailed over a minor drugs offence, summarily gunned down by the police for nothing, bash themselves to death in a hotel room or be exposed to a civil asset forfeiture.

        It just isn't done.

        Clothes or not - Donald Trump will crush the Democrats in 2020. The Dim's sponsors like what The Donald is doing for them, predictably the Dim's will take the money and give Hillary a re-run.

    2. LucreLout Silver badge
      Joke

      And what's the betting the "civil servants" have "immunity" to the consequences of their actions.

      Lessons will be learned.

  6. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Payback time... how?

    How to pay?? Good question. To raise taxes penalizes the very people who paid the fines and put up with this. These things usually don't get voted on, so I'm thinking the city fathers should dig deep into their pockets. But...Optotraffic shouldn't be let off the hook either.

    There's too many cities and towns pull this same stunt with having a 3rd party doing the ticketing, etc. and I doubt if any of the employees of said company are "law enforcement employees" of the city/town.

  7. Mike 16 Silver badge

    The usual practice

    is to put the trap-cams on a stretch mainly used by tourists, not locals. Faced with paying $95 or traveling several hundred miles to fight it, the usual choice is to pay.

    Just like "the accidental broom sale" is not generally tried on folks who know your birthday and the names of all your grandkids.

    1. this
      WTF?

      Re: Accidental broom sale

      What's that? Googled it and the only relevant result was a link to this post.

      Can someone explain?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Accidental broom sale

        "Can someone explain?"

        I can guess. You place a large order with a store for various household things. It is only some time later that you find they included a charge for a broom you didn't order - and possibly wasn't delivered either.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Accidental broom sale

          I thought it was when you bought out all the brooms just before some disaster hit, cornering the cleanup market in an hour of need. You either pay up or live with dangerous debris everywhere.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: The usual practice

      No different in the UK. I got my one and only ever speed ticket in a deserted road, just over the speed limit, on the outskirts of a small town, just off an A road. The locals zoom along at double the limit, slow for the (one) camera, and then zoom along again. It's a nice earner that doesn't bother the voters.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: The usual practice

        sounds like france. the plod even take credit cards there and then with their mobile machines.

    3. Kimo

      Re: The usual practice

      New Miami is nestled between several larger communities, and is on the state highway between Dayton and Cincinnati. I suspect most of the tickets went to commuters.

  8. vgold
    WTF?

    Thanks for the article. My wife was caught speeding with a speed camera in a car registered in my name and sure enough, I had to defend myself.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      re: I had to defend myself.

      No you don't - you just wait 13months and then claim you were investigating but the records of who was driving were destroyed for privacy reasons and so you cannot respond. You are then let off

      Note this may only work if you are senior police officer in London

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: re: I had to defend myself.

        failire to provide is very bad for ypur insurance.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just shut down all services

    I'd just say all services stop for 3 years. Lock the schools, libraries, turn off all the lighting, stop garbage collection, policing... everything. Just shutter it all. Sorry folks, you want $3m back - that's your services for 3 years. See you in 2022. While still paying the wages of the staff to manage nothing.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: Just shut down all services

      it wasnt the townsfolk fault though. they opposed it.

  10. Peter Prof Fox

    I'm all for speed cameras

    Why not get criminals to pay? Win-win!

    Normally a court case for anything, let alone a community of prison sentence costs innocent tax payers a fortune!

    There is of course the temptation, all too often jumped-at, for profit-hungry crooks to put up cameras in poorly signposted areas but in general if you know the speed limit is 30 it is irrelevant if the camera is by a school, blackspot or any other 'cause'... It's the law. It's signposted. If you're not paying attention or it doesn't apply to you then tough!

  11. traceyfields
    Joke

    they will have a hard time raising that amount of money to pay back, i mean it's not like they could just put a tax on tea, is it? :)

  12. TRT Silver badge

    They already splurged...

    on personal vices; New Miami Vices.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much of the 40% that went to Optotraffic and won't be recovered was put in greasy brown envelopes?

    I see this democracy thing is working as intended.

  14. Milton Silver badge

    The root of all evil ...

    The root of all evil ... ... isn't money, per se. It's greed. Greed for money, and for power.

    Greed is the "hidden" vice—the one we sometimes smirk about; or excuse; or pretend not to see when it's us trying to grab ever more at the expense of the other fellow; or even twist to claim is somehow "good"—but in truth it is the lowest, most infantile, most cowardly, selfish, shallow and most damaging of human vices.

    Wherever you see self-destructive pathology in the modern world—from petty imbeciles like Trump, through FTSE500 boardrooms, all the way down to prisons full of criminals; from right wing "thinking" to entire populations crushed by inequality and despair—the worst of human weaknesses, greed, is always right there.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The root of all evil ...

      Worst human weakness...or greatest human survival instinct? When it's You vs. Them, you eat before they do.

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

        Re: The root of all evil ...

        "or greatest human survival instinct?"

        No, altruism is the greatest human survival instinct... when you have eaten enough, eating more is greed, but if you give it away to those that are hungry, then they do the same when you're hungry and your tribe grows.

        1. Arctic fox
          Headmaster

          Re: "No, altruism is the greatest human survival instinct"

          I agree, humanity would never have survived swinging down from the trees to walk upright if cooperation were not a very important contribution to our socio/evoulutionary biology. The idea that all that is needed for evolutionary success is a bit of "red in tooth and claw", ie greed/devil take the hindmost, is asinine.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "No, altruism is the greatest human survival instinct"

            Oh? Then how come the most stable human social group appears to be the tribe or clan, not the big city or huge country? Plus, even this group tends to get rickety when crises like famine hits (No Party Like a Donner Party, remember?).

    2. lckysquirrel

      Greed - the anti-empathy

      Word.

  15. chivo243 Silver badge

    Chicago got caught too

    But they only had to pay back "half" of the fines collected. That' how run a scam: Issue tickets, get money, goes into the bank, earns interest, then only pay back half of the fine. Cha Ching!

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-rahm-emanuel-red-light-tickets-lawsuit-settlement-met-20170720-story.html

  16. Chris G Silver badge

    Work it off

    The Town Council and cops are there for the benefit of the community, therefore if they don't have the money to pay back the fines, they should spend their free time working for the people they are paying back. It would be a great example of serving the community ( not sure how longer for to pay off 3milion though) the

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Work it off

      And should their spouses and kids be made to suffer for the sins of the breadwinners?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Work it off

        Yes. Not my circus, not my monkeys.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Work it off

          But it's still YOUR mess when the circus leaves town and leaves you the monkey poo to clean up. No one lives in isolation.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Work it off

            "when the circus leaves town and leaves you the monkey poo to clean up"

            In this case the circus has been handed the bill and the vehicles impounded.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Work it off

              "In this case the circus has been handed the bill and the vehicles impounded."

              No, because they all left in the dead of night, leaving no vehicles to impound and no address to send the bill.

      2. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

        Re: Work it off

        "And should their spouses and kids be made to suffer for the sins of the breadwinners?"

        Yes, because they deprived your spouse and kids of the money in the first place?

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Work it off

          "Yes, because they deprived your spouse and kids of the money in the first place?"

          So you're basically saying let innocent people die because of someone else's wrongdoing?

      3. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Work it off

        And should their spouses and kids be made to suffer for the sins of the breadwinners?

        You've not thought this through, have you?

        If I murder someone and go to jail, my spouse and kids suffer too.

        If I drive drunk and get banned from driving, my spouse and kids suffer too.

        If I curl on out on my bosses desk and get sacked, my spouse and kids suffer too.

        How on earth do you perceive this as any different? Your post amounts to no more thought through a reply than "Won't someone think of the children?".

  17. Scott 53

    A novel suggestion

    How about "observe the speed limit"? As another poster observed, nobody is above the law.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: A novel suggestion

      How about "someone else drives your car but you get the ticket"? Plenty of potential for mischief here.

      1. Craig 2

        Re: A novel suggestion

        How about not letting people borrow your car who break the law, or at least asking them to respect your property? Your car, your responsibility.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: A novel suggestion

          "How about not letting people borrow your car who break the law, or at least asking them to respect your property? Your car, your responsibility."

          But you don't know that ahead of time, so it can't be your fault for something you can't anticipate. Especially if it was borrowed without your permission (aka STOLEN).

        2. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

          Optional

          That's asinine, because it makes the owner responsible for someone else's lawbreaking. Taken only a little further, and you'd have parents be responsible for (adult or minor) kid's actions (which rapidly becomes "corruption of blood", which is officially a no-no).

          Meanwhile, clever jurisdictions (i.e. not this lot) sometimes use a scheme where people who receive a ticket by mail can get the thing dismissed by simply turning up at the local government office. This makes it easy for locals to avoid the fine, while hard for visitors, so it's a way to shift the burden to people who don't vote locally!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "observe the speed limit"

      I thoroughly agree. If all the speedsters on UK motorways were appropriately fined it would bring in quite a bit of money, at least for the first month. Better still have one speeding ticket team and move them to a new area every few days.

      AC because if ever this did get implemented I don't want anyone to know that I suggested it.

      1. Craig 2
        Joke

        Re: "observe the speed limit"

        "If all the speedsters on UK motorways were appropriately fined it would bring in quite a bit of money"

        Easier to just add a tax to all BMWs and AUDIs at point of sale...

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: "observe the speed limit"

        "If all the speedsters on UK motorways were appropriately fined"

        If the speed limits were set according to actual motorway _design_ then very few people would be pinged for speeding on them and _perhaps_ posted speed limits set for actual safety reasons would be respected.

        Pinging people for travelling 80mph on a road designed for 100mph in clear conditions isn't going to make ablind bit of difference to the crash rate on the same stretch of road in heavy fog when the safe speed is under 20mph and people still barrel along at 50+ - this gets classified as an "excess speed" crash and used as justification for enforcement, but people who travel at excess speed in fog tend not to be the ones who travel above the speed limit in clear conditions and vice versa.

        (In just about every country on earth, the "speed limit" on any given road is the _lessor_ of the posted limit or the speed at which you can stop in the distance of clear road lane ahead. If there's no centre line then it's half the lane distance as the oncoming traffic has to be able to stop too. Twats who speed in fog or other poor conditions work on the basis of "The posted speed limit is my target", or (worse), "I'm travelling below the speed limit, so it's not a problem")

        Speed enforcement is an easy revenue target for jobsworths and a lot of them end up in "Road safety partnerships"

        Actual SAFETY practice is something that goes over most civil servant heads as "too hard"

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: "observe the speed limit"

        "Better still have one speeding ticket team and move them to a new area every few days."

        That's how Durham Constabulary operate. No fixed speed cameras in their patch.

        Unlike Nottinghamshire, which seem to have blown their entire budget on speed cameras,

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: A novel suggestion

      > How about "observe the speed limit"?

      Firstly, in a lot of cases like this, the speed limit is tweaked specifically to maximise revenue - that's why it's called a "speed trap" (35mph limit for 500 yards in a 55mph road is a common one). As garnish on the cake various US areas have been caught playing games obscuring the signs, etc.

      Secondly, 60 years of traffic studies around the world have shown that if a posted speed limit is set +10-10mph of the _actual_ safe speed then 90%+ of drivers will respect it (some studies show 95%+)

      Outside of those ranges they'll either slow down to the safe speed or speed up to it, but you end up with a much higher speed spread than when an appropriate limit is set. If the limit is appropriate then your mean speed and 85% percentile speeds (1 standard deviation either side) are within 1-2mph of each other.

      Speed spread means that pedestrians have to cope with varying safe time windows to cross and results in more passing manouveres (which are inherently dangerous - this is also a reason why _slow_ drivers are at least as dangerous as speeders)

      The _actual_ solutions to excess speeds are engineering ones - usually a matter of removing roadside furniture and paint to make the road more "uncertain". Lines, curbing, fencing, signs and traffic lights all make the road appear safer and people go faster.

      Get it wrong and you get a road like the one I live on - a 30mph residential road where 62% of all cars are speeding, 17% exceeds 40mph and peak speeds are over 80mph - it's such an embarassment to the local council (Surrey County Council) that they cooked the figures to claim that the average speed is 25mph (by including all periods of congested traffic(*)) and deliberately deleted the raw data from traffic surveys.

      Traffic Psychology as a branch of Human Factors is becoming more and more important to reduce traffic casualties - and it's worth noting that Human Factors as applied to aviation is responsible for almost all the improvement in incident rates since the 1970s.

      (*) Yes, outside congested traffic periods 90% of vehicles are speeding

    4. Florida1920 Silver badge

      Re: A novel suggestion

      How about "observe the speed limit"? As another poster observed, nobody is above the law.
      Not that most of you will visit the U.S. anymore, but just in case. In the western states you'll have a smooth, straight road, speed limit around 60 mph. As you approach a town in the middle of nowhere, the speed limit will drop, fast, to 50, 40, 30 mph. You can see the decreasing-limit signs, they're so close together. Pay attention! A lot of towns have signs that light up with your actual speed. If they're connected to the PD, they may be waiting for you as you enter "downtown." Don't blink, because even at 15 mph you'll be through the town in a few seconds.

      Also, don't count on forgiveness if you're doing less than 5 or 10 mph over the limit. I was pulled over on an Interstate in Montana for 67 in a 65 (verbal warning) and tracked by a California cop who turned around after passing me as I was 2 mph over the limit on a downhill stretch of a major road, daylight etc. It was steep enough that the cruise control didn't keep the car at the speed limit. After tailing me and running my reg, he must have decided to let me go (I was doing the limit the entire 10 minutes he was on my tail).

      OTOH, there's a stretch of Interstate in Idaho where the limit is 80 mph, and places in Montana where there's no limit. Get off one of those roads and onto a secondary road and it's harder to tamp it down. If you do a lot of traveling, even if you're generally speed-conscious, it's easy to slip up, just long enough to get a fine. Fortunately, I am as yet unscathed.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: A novel suggestion

        OTOH, there's a stretch of Interstate in Idaho where the limit is 80 mph, and places in Montana where there's no limit.

        I thought Montana has the "safe and reasonable" speed limit. Nevada and some other states used to have until the feds decided to cut highway money if they didn't conform back when the oil crisis was hitting hard. The feds finally backed off that a few years ago but some of the states didn't go back to old speed limit. Now, there is a catch on "safe and reasonable"... if the cop doesn't think you're being "safe and reasonable" it becomes a tough ticket to fight. For example, what's a safe speed during a blizzard with whiteout conditions? Heavy rain?

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: A novel suggestion

        "....and places in Montana where there's no limit"

        Not since 1999 - and even when it didn't have a _daytime_ speed limit there were night time limits to prevent people outdriving their headlight range (safe stopping distances). It still has reduced night time speeds, see below.

        It's worth noting that during the period Montana didn't have daytime speed limits, if you were ticketed for driving at an unsafe speed the police assessment was never struck down in court - and that could mean "too fast for the conditions - where conditions means presence of other vehicles as well as road state, visibility and weather conditions" OR "too fast for your vehicle" (the marine concept of hull speed regarding controllability also applies to cars, but for the most part we don't go anywhere near those speeds and unlike boats, cars can't start "planing" over the surface to change the rules.)

        That kind of ticket wasn't just an infraction and fine either. It was a fairly serious charge. I know a couple of people who ended up in court for it.

        http://www.mdt.mt.gov/visionzero/roads/speedlimits.shtml

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speed trap

    On the flip side, we have those whiny signs with the flashing red LEDs if you go too fast.

    Except that the sign turns red with the cars in front of mine (doing 20) so someone clearly didn't calibrate them properly.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Speed trap

      "so someone clearly didn't calibrate them properly."

      In which case you should be griping about it. There are a couple of speed signs around here that used to go off at 26mph until complaints were made.

      It's also worth noting that when multiple vehicles are in a radar beam you'll get heterodyne effects (retruns for both vehicle speeds AND their additive speeds AND the difference speeds as returns either side of the primary speeds AND if there's a static reflective surface you'll get odd returns from that too (especially corrugated fencing).

      On top of that, the radar frontal area of most post-1985 cars is so small that the return from the back end of a truck 1 mile down the road will be "louder" than the return from such a car less than 300 yards away (almost all vehicles have larger rear radar returns than frontal ones).

      That's why the UK police rely extensively on portable lasers to keep only the target illuminated and why speed cameras have to take two photos against calibrated road markings to prove the vehicle being photographed really is the one that was speeding.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Speed trap

        There are two reasons police are switching from RADAR to LIDAR. One is as you say it's a lot easier to target because the LIDAR beam has a very narrow focus; no heterodyne effects and less chance of pinging the wrong car by mistake. The other reason is that it only needs a very short time to establish a speed fix. Smart cops pick a good spot, aim and shoot so quickly that there's no time to react to them. This makes LIDAR detectors useless (where they're legal) because they can't give you enough warning. The beam's too narrow to detect them being used on other cars, and by the time your car's being pinged, they've already got you dead to rights.

  19. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Welcome to Boondocks, USA

    Speed traps and dodgy traffic tickets are a well know problem in the US. In Georgia a few years ago the state put up warning billboards to warn motorists there was a speed trap ahead in south Georgia. In metro Atlanta a few years ago, Pine Mountain was operating a notorious, illegal speed trap. The county (DeKalb) made sure the local media pointed out the defendant could have the case moved from Pine Mountain muni courts to the county traffic court; a point most were not aware of. Needless to say the county court found most not guilty and those few that were found guilty paid the county not the city. That ended the Pine Mountain speed trap as a revenue source.

    Depending on the state, using traffic court to basically fund the town is illegal. A possible challenge is to look at how much of the local budget is paid for by traffic fines versus tax income.

    1. Lost In Clouds of Data
      Holmes

      Re: Welcome to Boondocks, USA

      We seem to be a lil hotbed for vice such as this in Ohio, especially in the Southwestern corner. Between Little Miami and Elmwood Place (the other 'village' mentioned here although for my British bretheran, please be aware that we have odd names for municipalities here and are just as likely to call a small 'town' of a few thousand a city as we are calling somewhere that is really just a local collective virtually surrounded on all sides by Cincinnati, a village, but I digress), along with the recent scandal of the employees of the Village of Arlington Heights, just a shade North of Cincy, pocketing speeding fines issued to unwary travellers on I-75.

      There is a bad reason for this and it's called "Mayor's Court" - a nice con job provided almost exclusively by Ohio law (and first seen in Cincinnati in 1812) that sets forth a court system unlike any other: neither the mayor or anyone else who 'tries' cases such as speeding are required to be attorney's or even, for that matter, have the first clue about the law.

      The aforementioned Arlington Heights for example, in a state which averages at 0.2 cases per resident, managed at its height to prosecute 419 people per resident!

      All of these however pales into insignificance when one remembers the tale of New Rome outside of Columbus, Ohio. Incorporated in the late 1940s as a village, it ran a speed trap system so punative, and so insipid, that the tiny village of around 60 raised around $400,000 a year in speeding tickets given out by one of the villages 14 part time cops (who, by the way, only worked during the day so you could do any speed you wanted in the dead of night but during the day would be pulled over for doing 26mph in a 25mph zone).

      In 2003 the State had had enough and first disolved the Mayors Court, then, a year later, the entire village as a result. These days, New Rome is just another unincorporated community along route 40.

  20. vgold
    Flame

    Speeding cars don't cause accidents

    Speeding doesn't cause accidents. I believe the opposite is true, those who drive slow in the passing lane (this happens all the time in the U.S.) are aggravating other drivers who try to pass them and, as a result, engage in road rage and we all know where road rage leads. Bottom line, road rage and not speeding causes accidents

    Furthermore, those who drive fast, have a goal in mind: to get from point A to point B. I don't believe that a driver who drives fast with a goal in mind will jeopardize the attainment of his/her goal by getting into an accident. Ignorant authorities use speeding cameras to make money and not to prevent accidents. Want to prevent accidents? Remove the schmucks from the roads.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Speeding cars don't cause accidents

      I don't always see that as road rage. I see that as someone doing 60,70 or more on the highway legally and overtaking someone doing 35. Been there, done that and needed a change of underwear after some quick steering and braking to avoid ramming grampa's old Ford.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Speeding cars don't cause accidents

        So you are unable to notice you were approaching the vehicle in front quicker than expected and slow down? Get off the fucking road you retard.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Speeding cars don't cause accidents

      "Furthermore, those who drive fast, have a goal in mind: to get from point A to point B. I don't believe that a driver who drives fast with a goal in mind will jeopardize the attainment of his/her goal by getting into an accident."

      I believe the opposite. Someone fixated on a goal that doesn't directly involve driving (getting to the hairdresser, etc.) get so fixated on them that they get reckless. Two common motives behind speed-related accidents are tardiness (they're late for something) and racing (where speed is more important than life to the drivers). Speeding to maintain steady flow is one thing (the herd or stampede principle as I call it), speeding for speed's sake is another. There's a reason "speed kills" predates the drug wars.

      1. DropBear Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Speeding cars don't cause accidents

        "I don't believe that a driver who drives fast with a goal in mind will jeopardize the attainment of his/her goal by getting into an accident."

        Utter bullshit. They have exactly three things in mind, and nothing else:

        - It is my prerogative to drive as fast as I want and I do enjoy doing it so I damn right will, whenever I feel like it, which is always

        - I am an excellent driver and accidents are what happens to other people - I can avoid one under any conditions because I have absolute perception and I am always perfectly in control

        - I have none of my precious time to waste on those other losers who can't afford fast cars like mine - fuck them!

    3. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: Speeding cars don't cause accidents

      Speed limits being set too low and speed limits being enforced are different issues but equally wrong.

      It's not valid to break a law just because you feel that it shouldn't apply to you, just as it is not valid to pass laws that your citizens will not obey.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Speeding cars don't cause accidents

        Depends on your definition of "valid". Consider the concept of civil disobedience for when the law is being turned actively against you. Remember, government is a two-way street. If one side is not playing by the rules, why continue to follow them either?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Speeding cars don't cause accidents

      Yes remove people from the roads, but the fuckers like you who think getting somewhere a couple of minutes earlier is worth risking people’s lives. Slow the fuck down, show some fucking patience. There is no such thing as “road rage”. It is just selfish fuckers not giving a fuck about anyone but themselves.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Speeding cars don't cause accidents

        "Slow the fuck down, show some fucking patience."

        NO!!! Because for these people, being dead is preferable to being late: a fate WORSE than death.

        "There is no such thing as “road rage”. It is just selfish fuckers not giving a fuck about anyone but themselves."

        That's pretty much the DEFINITION of Road Rage.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The same scam exists in Urrup also

    I've seen numerous small towns in Urrup that use the same bogus speed trap deal to issue hundreds of tickets per day for cars entering the city at reasonable speeds that come upon a 30 km zone typically around a bend in the road so commuters have no warning until they get flashed by the speed camera. This is obviously unscrupulous but I have not heard of the EU beaks ending this unsavory fleecing of commuters. The USA may get the headlines but speed traps are big Biz in Germany and surrounding areas including mobile speed camera traps used to try and out smart commuters. I'm surprised more of these cameras have not been disabled by irate commuters who are being exploited and denied due process.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The same scam exists in Urrup also

      Oh it certainly does exist here in the UK to some extent.

      We get both the good and the bad though. Real bad black spots where accidents happen get cameras and lots of signs. Generally stops an accident at that one spot. Sadly just moves the speeding cars/people up the road though. Or managed motorway speed to stop pileups. Or average speed cameras to stop *really* deadly areas (one road near me got one installed, as it was getting a crash a day or more for people doing stupid things at stupid speeds in all weather).

      But then we also get little tiny places where they change the speed limit suddenly, but the road was built for 10-20mph faster speeds, none of the new building work for the school has been done yet so the streets are empty, the signs are behind trees and you decide to overtake a slow lorry? Yes, the speed camera van is waiting for you around that bend on a just legally but only barely signposted legal camera spot.

      So some places use it for safety, some for cash. Half the area around me kept the cameras, as they were in safety spots, the other half surprisingly vanished, as they either stopped bringing in the cash, or kept getting torched.

      Oh, me a little bitter for my one and only speeding ticket? Possibly. ;)

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: The same scam exists in Urrup also

        "Or managed motorway speed to stop pileups."

        Or poorly managed in some cases. Join the M1 North from Chesterfield any time after 3pm and you can pretty much guarantee that the variable speed limit signs will de set to 50mph all the way. Never 60mph as it starts to get busy and maybe 50 later. Noooooo....just default to 50mph as soon the first inklings of rush "hour" appear. Of course, that also means they can activate the speed cameras too.

  22. x 7

    I don't understand what the village people were complaining about. If they were in the UK this would be standard behaviour for a county council

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Bunch of cowboys and cops.

      And sailors, builders and Native American Indians.

  23. David Roberts Silver badge
    Windows

    I didn't realise

    Dukes of Hazard County was a documentary.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: I didn't realise

      Lightly fictionalized to protect the guilty.

  24. unwarranted triumphalism

    Another vicious unprovoked attack on the motorist

    And meanwhile the 2 wheeled criminal thug brigde get away scot-free without paying any taxes - as usual. I wonder what might be behind that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another vicious unprovoked attack on the motorist

      Nobody is forcing you to drive 10 miles an hour over the speed limit - or maybe you think they are? Like parking tickets - there is very clear rules that some fuckheads think don't apply to them... so they get a fine and then love to whine like the little bitches they are.

      Follow the speed limits or pay the fine. Whichever you choose is good, and please STFU.

      1. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

        Re: Another vicious unprovoked attack on the motorist

        Adeyjay, I downvoted you because you are missing the point - laws are supposed to be there to make life better, not to line the pockets of greedy people who think 'public servant' means the public is there to serve them.

        This isn't about road safety, it's about abusing legal powers to raise money for vanity projects and not real benefits for the community, and certainly not to improve road safety.

  25. EveryTime Silver badge

    One of the issues reported with this particular speed trap town was that the machines often reported absurdly high speeds, and the fine was issued based on that with no checking.

    The town made it very difficult to challenge a ticket. And if you wanted to appeal that decision they sent you to the wrong court. It was only the latter point that ran afoul of the law.

    For those posters that think any lack of due process and subsequent punishment is OK, you obviously haven't considered that not everyone is 'guilty'. Especially when there is a strong profit motive involved.

  26. Andy Livingstone

    Do what they do in England

    Don't fine them, send them on Speed Awareness Courses, at a fee roughly the same as the fine might be. Seems to get round the issue. Part of the fee to the town and the rest to the tutors. Same earnings and more likely to be "constitutional" too.

  27. Ruisert

    I say that speeding law enforcement is more about revenue enhancement than public safety. While it's true that higher speeds will result in more damage or worse injuries ~in an accident~, the main reason speeding is the prime target is for a simple reason - it's easily quantifiable and document-able by machine and requires very little effort. I've seen tons of atrociously dangerous driving, by people going at or below the speed limit that is far more dangerous than going over the limit - tailgating, passing on the right, weaving, etc. Never ever do I see those people getting pulled over for the tickets they so rightly deserve.

    Years ago, when I was a bit of a lead-footed kid, I got a few speeding tickets. I had a good, smart lawyer. He'd plea no contest to the citations in city court, then appeal to county. County, at the time, was hugely backlogged, and most of my cases dismissed due to time. Eventually the city twigged to the problem and made their own court of record to thwart the tactic, because they were losing $4-5 MILLION a year that they clearly expected to bring in.

    And the issue here is not about obeying laws or facing the responsibility for breaking them, it's about law enforcement authorities rigging a system to trap people into breaking the law and confiscating their money. There are tons of small towns all over the western U.S. where this is standard practice. And the newest wrinkle is asset forfeiture - often based on racial profiling or recognition of a non-resident ripe for plucking.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I say that speeding law enforcement is more about revenue enhancement than public safety."

      Well, my broker is EF Hutton, and EF Hutton says...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You’ve also clearly not seen a child left with permanent brain damage after being struck, caused by a driver ignoring a speed limit, damage that would probably have not happened had the vehicle been under the limit.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Actually, I HAVE seen children struck stone cold DEAD at 25mph, so I'd say we're already well over the tipping point already no matter what the speed chosen. An alternative solution is needed at this point if you want to avoid fleshy pedestrians being in the paths of steel behemoths.

  28. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

    Murder She Wrote

    This to me sounds like it could be made into an episode of Murder She Wrote

  29. ecofeco Silver badge

    Proven scam

    Speedcams as used in the USA is a proven scam.

    Also, I'll be surprised if they actually ever pay that money back before hell freezes over. Another great American scam: we'll pay you back when we feel like.

    Everything in America is a scam.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Proven scam

      A wise man once said, "You know what capitalism is? Gettin' f***ed!"

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Proven scam

        Given the alternatives, you can change that from "capitalism" to "civilization".

  30. JWYO

    Wyoming

    Posted speeds are rising some by quite a lot, so the out of state drivers see the limit add 10 to it and zoom...slide skid, bang, or where did that elk/cow/antelope/deer come from? if you hit the first of those you won't be around to ask the question, big as a horse.

    I am still driving the same speed I did 10 years ago, now it is legal +/-2MPH, get passed by people from big states, from the south or east, like I am standing still. Worse is when I am driving my restored military truck designed march speed 35MPH and war speed of 50, as much as I try to avoid the interstate, (multi lane limited access road) there are places where there is no other way to go, so I turn on the strobes and try not to look behind me as these morons try to run me down, flashing lights, immense size, weapons, and all. Speed limits should be like game character points, you and your drivers license get a point count of x, your car gets a point count of x, add the two and subtract your social media handicap and you arrive at your speed rating, posted on lighted sign near your cars ID plate, 0 or negative no can drive. calculating your speed rating would be the intelligence test, can't figure that out take the bus You are unsafe at any speed. As A guide line above a reasonable size of vehicle, say standard American car, you deduct points, so jacked up 1 ton pickups belching black smoke would have a negative count, as many that drive these in this state would have a low point count any way, the air would be cleaner and roads would have less traffic. Probably need to do the same for Horse power over the average i.e. deduct points for the hell cat version, might never see Jeremy Clarkson on the road here again...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wyoming

      But what about those who MUST drive because they're breadwinners working at the only place that'll hire them that is too far from a bus, too expensive to taxi (they'd no longer be breadwinners) and nowhere near coworkers? I've seen more judges in general district court forced to issue restricted licenses for that very combination of reasons, especially if they have spouses and kids to support. IOW, what happens when "Unsafe at Any Speed" runs smack into "Who Brings Home the Groceries?"

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019