If you are an Oahu driver, you probably know about the unmarked
camera vans designed to catch speeding vehicles. After much
public criticism, the legislature finally decided, early in
April, to put an end to the unpopular program, unanimously
voting to repeal legislation that they had passed, unanimously,
months ago. Instead of fixing the problem they created, our
elected officials are now going to make us pay to shut it
down. This is being done despite the fact that the idea was
a good one slow traffic down, decrease the number of
traffic fatalities resulting from speeding, free police for
more important duties.
The Department of Transportation was looking to reduce the
number of traffic fatalities resulting from speeding. In the
beginning of the program, the vans were out from 7 a.m. to
10 p.m. The so-called racers that they were trying
to catch did not go out racing between the hours of 7 a.m.
to 10 p.m. They did their racing in the wee hours of the night
or morning when the streets and roads were empty. That is
when the vans should have been out in order to catch the real
Ticketing drivers for going a few miles over the speed limit
did not make any sense at all to motorists. According to an
article written by Chenoa Farnsworth, the only way the state
wouldve been able to break even, dollar wise, with the
traffic camera system, is if they issued tickets to drivers
going six miles above the posted speed limit. Tickets issued
to drivers going under that threshold would constitute a monetary
loss for the state.
This is a very important issue because the Department of
Transportation adamantly said they were going to have a zero
tolerance policy when it came to catching speeding vehicles.
What kind of message were they sending out to the motorists?
It is not a positive one, because most of us know that going
a few miles over the speed limit poses little or no threat
to our fellow drivers. In any case, drivers going too slow
pose a safety hazard. If a driver is going too slow it may
cause other drivers to swerve in and out of traffic to pass
them and this can cause traffic accidents.
Some said the state was trying to use the traffic camera
system as a potential cash cow, but the example above would
show otherwise. Instead of the Department of Transportation
doing their math and realizing that it benefited no one (except
maybe ACS) to issue tickets to drivers going six miles over
the speed limit, they allowed it regardless. It showed the
Department of Transportation, trying to put their foot down
by having a zero tolerance policy, but instead
it made them look like an incompetent department. They exhibited
tremendous poor planning and lack of foresight.
In their lack of planning the Department of Transportation
overlooked yet another important issue, high insurance premiums.
Many states that have similar traffic camera systems have
developed laws that curtail things such as high insurance
premiums resulting from the traffic camera system. Here in
Hawaii, there was no law developed to protect us from
the traffic camera system. This meant that if a person got
a ticket, he or she didnt just have to pay the ticket,
but also higher insurance premiums. According to the Web site
of the City of Fairfax, Northern Virginia, who has a photo
enforcement traffic system, they consider the traffic violation
a civil violation.
Our representatives voted unanimously for this new traffic
camera system, and now they have unanimously voted to repeal
it, which will cost the stateusmillions of dollars
to compensate Affiliated Computer Systems (ACS) for the cancelled
contract. According to an article in the Honolulu Advertiser,
ACS told state officials they will seek $5 million to $8 million
to offset their startup costs under a termination clause in
its contract. According to the same article, it said that
if the above was paid, the money would have to come from a
$5 million revolving fund the department set up for the program,
which was supposed to be self-sustaining with ticket revenues
once it was fully running. Additional money would have to
be authorized by the legislature. Since many of the tickets
issued were dismissed, how much of this revolving fund will
pay for the $5 million to $8 million fee ACS is seeking?
The legislature created this program. They refused to take
responsibility for fixing it. They should pay for it from
their own pockets.