Taking aim at New Orleans' traffic cameras, a bill has been filed in the legislative session that would require "clearly visible" signs to be placed near speed cameras to alert drivers of their presence.For a state legislator who is entertaining the notion of running for mayor it's hard to know just how to handle the traffic camera problem. On the one hand the cameras are very unpopular. Nobody likes getting a ticket from a robot. Since they first showed up on our streets, questions have been raised about their accuracy, their constitutionality, and even their efficacy in promoting public safety which is supposed to be, you know, the point of them in the first place.
Filed by Sen. Troy Carter, D-New Orleans, the bill calls for signs to be placed within 500 feet of any fixed or mobile speed camera. Anyone ticketed for speeding by a camera without a sign nearby would be off the hook, according to the bill.
On the other hand, everybody knows their primary purpose is to generate revenue. The city is counting on collections near $24 million in its adopted 2017 budget. The fact that people know this only leads to more suspicion, though. It's especially grating to know that private contractors like Redflex and American Traffic Solutions are getting rich off of the scheme. Or that cities have been caught engaging in such trickery as shortening yellows in order to juice the rate of violations.
So you can see why Carter would want to make sure his constituents feel he's protecting them from unclear or misleading signs. If we're going to come after your money, the least we can do is not be quite so sneaky about it. Of course, there is always the option of doing away with the cameras entirely. There is a bill in the legislature this session that could do exactly that, in fact. But, if you are Troy Carter, and you are thinking about maybe being mayor soon, are you probably aren't going to be keen on creating a $24 million hole in your own budget right now. Better to focus on the signage thing first. At least that's the safe way to go about it.