California governor Gavin Newsom signs law allowing traffic cameras to issue automatic fines

Originally published at: California governor Gavin Newsom signs law allowing traffic cameras to issue automatic fines | Boing Boing


I’d rather have speed cameras fill state coffers than say predatory toll companies cashing in on roads ALREADY paid for.

Problem with relying on speed cameras for cash is that they work until people know where they are.


Interested to hear opinions on this. To me anything that discentivizes driving is a plus.


As long as it’s not scamming people like so many other places have been caught doing, I like them.


Of course, actually sticking to traffic laws would negate the purpose entirely, but then ‘but my car’ is one of the default US attitudes


How many cars are going to be running around with printouts of police car license plate numbers taped over their actual license plate? Or for that matter, what’s the license plate numbers for the cars Governor Newsom rides around it?


I don’t know who will own the cameras in California but if they’re run by private, for-profit companies like they often are elsewhere, then there very well may be predatory companies making a lot of money from this.


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I hear what you’re saying, but in CA, there is no disincentivizing driving for the most part because hardly any of our major metro areas have public transit worth a damn.
To your point, if the gov wanted to do that (setting the public safety issue aside for a moment) then he would meet with the business leaders in this state who seem to be hell-bent on having people come back to the office.
As a punitive measure, like most things, it can and will hurt people the most who can afford it the least.
Now, as a caveat, I haven’t had to commute to work in over 8 years. HOWEVER, I still have to drive to get certain things done and the most dangerous things that I see when I do generally do not have anything to do with speeding, it’s either just plain shit driving or other things like running stop signs/stop lights, weaving on the freeway, talking/texting on the phone, etc…


I feel guilty if I’m going more than 8 over the speed limit, so I guess I’m fine in California. Unless, as stated, its run by predatory companies willing to lie to make bank.


so now wearing a mask, ie covid style, is akin to darth vader? i’m all about dragging newsom when he makes shitty decisions, but do we really need to dip into mask-shaming? leave that to the maga types.


Darth Vader wears a mask, and is a villain. Newsom is wearing a mask in this pic, and has made recent villainous decisions. Pretty much that’s all there is to it. No one here is demonizing masks. Relax.


I’m sure these cameras will be placed in really busy metro areas to catch the most people and thus make the most money, rather than being placed where they could, at least potentially or allegedly, be helpful.

A major, extremely busy, accident-heavy intersection near my house got cameras a few years back. On top of that, they also shortened the light timing, per a newspaper story at the time. Accidents SHOT up. People would race to try to make the light and then absolutely slam on the brakes to avoid hitting the now yellow light, making the racer behind them slam into them. And it also had a 4 second requirement on right-on-red, which was how most people learned of it. After several years, it was quietly removed during the pandemic. I think the few others (oddly, most of them near fire/police departments) have also disappeared and I’m not sure we have any left.

They’re made to make money. Anyone claiming anything else is lying.


did newsom cross from DINO to full republican?

he lost my vote.


That’s how it is here in Maryland. We are always told how private companies can do the government’s job better than the government.

In my county we have cameras in fixed locations and sporadic locations, plus some ‘mobile’ cameras hidden inside vans that are always parked on the roadside with an orange cone. There are also decoy cameras that are moved around but don’t issue tickets. Cameras are only legal. The cameras are only legal in school zones and construction zones.

I can’t argue with the studies, but my local experience is different. People still get tickets, but there’s less speeding where they put the cameras and decoys.

We also have red-light cameras.

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That’s the genius of it, though! He no longer needs your vote! Now he can get votes from Republicans! Republicans who have long yearned to cast votes for the Democratic governor of Californ – wait, I’ll come in again.

Traffic light cameras have been tried in various areas here in Nor Cal, and some counties kept them (due to revenue) and some removed them (due to citizen challenges). They’re all owned and operated by private for-profit outfits. It’s easy money, I guess, for the taking from all those folks who won’t try to challenge the citation in court, but it’s generally been a huge rent-seeking endeavor by private companies that see an easy way to generate fines and take big chunks of them as “revenue”.

They’re a royal PITA, leading to unnecessary brake checks when someone suddenly notices them, regardless of their actual speed. There are an abundance of false triggers (many of which are dismissed by the human(?) operators that do the QA before sending the tickets, but some of which are not and those are difficult to fight), and the fine amounts are inflated, I guess so that the local govt sanctioning them can get enough of a take vs the oversized slice that the private company takes off the top.

Speed cameras will do all the same things, but more aggressively. I hope they are challenged and struck down. I am beyond disappointed that Governor Newsome would side with that kind of rubbish, but I’m sure that some good ol’ lobbying probably sealed that deal. Call me old school, but the idea that someone should be able to face their accuser in a court of law still means something to my way of thinking. Not that Citizens United didn’t cast a long shadow over such a basic idea, of course, but so goes the soup.


but, but, how will the cameras know to only take pictures of POC drivers?

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The record on these seems to be that they do nothing much to improve road safety, unless tickets issued or speeding stats are used as proxies for it, but they make a ton of money.

In UK, speed cameras tended to be installed at known accident black-spots and I’m sure there is plenty of data to show they have a positive effect in reducing the incidence of accidents at such sites. Just putting them up randomly is just grifting.

But average speed cameras are even more effective. Roads where they are installed do have a much reduced accident rate.

Guidance on the use of speed cameras

Department for Transport guidance on the use of speed cameras require that:

  • speed camera housings be coloured yellow;
  • camera housings should not be obscured, eg, by trees, bushes or signs;
  • cameras be visible from 60m away in 40mph or less zones and 100m for all other speed limit zones;
  • signs should only be placed in areas where camera housings are sited or where mobile cameras operating;
  • mobile speed camera operators wear fluorescent clothing, and their vehicles should be marked with reflective strips;
  • camera sites be reviewed at least every six months to ensure cameras are properly visible and signposted.

All authorities operating the speed camera system are expected to abide by these rules, but it is not a defence against a speeding charge if you’re caught by a speed camera which falls short of the rules.

The DoT recommends that speed cameras be located in areas where many speeding accidents have occurred. Before cameras are installed, other measures to improve safety (eg, improving road layout, anti-skid surfacing, enhanced visibility) should first be considered.


Deciding whether to install a speed camera on your road is the job of local partnerships between the police, local government, the Highways Agency and health authorities. They work together to identify dangerous sites where speed cameras could help improve road safety.

There are some government guidelines to help with these decisions. These recommend that for a speed camera to be installed, certain conditions should be met, including that at least 20% of drivers exceed the speed limit at the site. Also, accident history records should show that there is a serious crash risk on that stretch of road – there must have been at least two collisions resulting in people killed or seriously injured per kilometre in the last three years.

Public opinion and any community concerns about safety on a particular stretch of road should also feed into the decision about whether a speed camera is needed.

The money collected from speeding fines then goes into Central Government coffers, rather than to local councils. It’s also worth noting that speed cameras are usually cheaper to install than alternative traffic calming measures, such as bumps, bollards and chicanes.

Once a site has been chosen for a fixed camera, it shouldn’t be assumed it will fix the problem. Instead, government guidelines state that data should be routinely collected to ensure it’s working effectively and making an impact on road safety.

The decisions on where to put average speed cameras will be slightly different. You’ll often see them where there are roadworks with temporary lower speed limits, to keep road workers safe. But they’re not just used on fast roads - they can also be seen on urban 30mph and 40mph routes.


you don’t have to. just like “broken windows” or “stop and frisk” just put the majority of cameras in the areas minority groups have been segregated into. easy peasy.

it’s like the ensh*tification of the web. the cameras create an incentive to scam people: set the sensors wrong, artificially shorten the lights, do algorithmic matching on fuzzy photos, etc.

unless the law also says the state is the only one who can run the cameras, and limits where and how they can be deployed, it’s basically inevitable the scamming will happen