Photo-Enforcement Technology Replaces Officers On Patrol

Dennis Faas's picture

It's no secret that most of us are guilty of driving with a "lead foot". Sooner or later, we all think twice about going just a little faster to get to our desired destinations. Often, it's not the risk of an automobile accident that deters us from putting the "pedal to the metal", it's that at any moment a police car zoom up behind, lights flashing.

But what if there were no more officers on road patrol? How many of us would go just a little faster knowing that there would be no consequences for such actions?

In some states and municipalities, police officers have stopped patrolling certain areas looking for speeders. The flip side: these officers have been replaced by surveillance cameras.

In recent years, some cities have adopted photo-enforcement technology. Those who exceed the speed limit in these districts are not usually caught by an officer, but by a surveillance camera that takes a picture of the offending vehicle and its license plate. (Source:

Unsuspecting victims return home one day and find a surprise waiting for them in their mailbox: a ticket for a violation that may have occurred weeks and even months ago.

Those who advocate on behalf of driver's rights argue that having cameras set up in place of real officers actually invites drivers to speed. In the past, not knowing where an officer would be hiding created the need for drivers to be cautious at all times. Having cameras in identifiable locations would lead to a slight reduction in speed followed by episodes of speeding after a surveillance area had been passed.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has remained a strong advocate in favor of having surveillance cameras. It argues that standard law enforcement does not have the resources available to keep up with the high volume of violations. (Source:

Most cities want law enforcement cameras for a reason other than making their roads safer: acquiring the extra revenue that comes with catching more violators. Many believe that having surveillance cameras increases the speed count from 'a couple an hour' to a couple dozen an hour.

While photo-enforcement may frustrate speeders, the new technology should actually work to their benefit. Many municipalities are treating speed violations caught on film in a manner similar to parking tickets, meaning violators will not have points deducted from their license. (Source:

Still, authorities are advocating that the best way to avoid receiving a speeding ticket is to drive with caution at all times.

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