New York Times Reports: Safety of Traffic-light Cameras Questioned

A recent report in the New York Times provides evidence that traffic accidents increase at intersections where a traffic-light camera is installed. The report also explains that many motorists are using a license plate spray to make the numbers on the plate unreadable to cameras.

New York, February 18, 2005 -- The New York Times reports that the use of traffic-light cameras to give out traffic tickets by mail has resulted in an increase in rear-end collisions caused by motorists trying to avoid a ticket when the light suddenly changes. The report also mentions the many critics of the system who claim it is used for revenue and there are no improvements in safety.

The companies that make the speed and traffic-light cameras defend their equipment and continue to make additional sales to existing clients, with new cities purchasing the units all the time. Manufacturers claim the photo cop units free up police who are already over worked, according to the article.

Not so in Chapel Hill, N.C. where city council member Mark Kleinschmidt convinced the city to end the use of the cameras after just four months. They prefer real police to handle the task rather than trusting it to a machine, according to the New York Times story.

Studies that were presented in Washington, D.C. by researchers Forrest Council and Bhagwant Persaud, conclude that rear-endings have gone up nearly 15 percent after cameras were installed in seven cities, with injuries from such accidents up 24 percent, according to the story.

The New York Times also pointed out that many motorists are taking action to prevent getting the tickets. They are spraying their license plates with Photo Blocker (tm), a clear spray that causes license plates to be unreadable in a flash photo taken by one of the controversial cameras.

"When they can't read the number on the plate they can't send you a ticket," said Joe Scott of PhantomPlate, Inc., makers of the spray.

"We do not want to encourage people to break the law by speeding or going through red lights, but law-abiding citizens do not want to be unjustly penalized by speed cameras that are not working correctly," explained Scott. The company offers information at

Numerous media organizations have conducted independent tests on the effectiveness of the PhotoBlocker (tm) spray, and they report that there is no specific law against the use of the spray.

"PhotoBlocker has been the subject of reports in the New York Times, Washington Post, Washington Times,,, NBC, CBS, ABC News, Tech TV, Norwegian TV, Dutch TV, Washington Times, UK's Daily Mail and many, many more. To date conclusive tests were conducted by the Denver Police Department, Dutch Police, Fox News, Swedish TV, Australian TV, British TV and others on six continents.

Joe Scott
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