Commentary: Traffic Cameras Not the Answer for New Orleans

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NPR reports on a public backlash in Arizona against the state’s use of highway traffic cameras, similar to the controversial cameras in New Orleans. This has resulted in Governor Jan Brewer announcing that she will not renew the state’s contract with Redflex, the Australian “photo enforcement” company hired to install and maintain the cameras.

Meanwhile, a number of bills intended to kill the program have been introduced into the State Legislature. Similar to the case here in New Orleans, criticism of these cameras in Arizona has been fueled by the charge that it is a transparent attempt by the local government to bring in more revenues under the pretense of transportation safety, a charge even reiterated by Governor Brewer.

While Arizona can at least boast a discernible decline in highway fatalities since the implementation of this camera network, the municipal government of New Orleans lacks any comparable justification for its overreach into the daily lives of New Orleanians.

Unless city officials can present statistics verifying that the presence of a camera at the corner of St. Charles and Louisiana has done anything to make motorists safer (which some argue it most certainly has not), we can assume that the only byproduct of its installation has gone straight into the pockets of City Hall.

Recently, Jefferson Parish put an end to its traffic camera program after it was revealed that the company in charge of installing the cameras planned to give a portion of the collected revenues to a lobbyist who had steered Jefferson Parish in their direction. The company in question?: Redflex.

This revelation begs a reiteration of the question: what are the real motives for the New Orleans traffic cameras? This question, however, is essentially rhetorical; our municipal leaders need to follow the lead of Jefferson Parish and Arizona and pull the plug on this shameful chapter.

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