It just seems so unfriendly. The equipment could malfunction, and two groups of people won't like it at all: those who drive well over the speed limit and those with a particular interpretation of liberty.
Is it an important basic freedom to not be photographed in public?
What am I talking about? The negative side of the decision whether to use cameras to catch people going over the speed limit. The Hazelwood City Council just had a first reading of an ordinance to allow the police department to place cameras, monitored by a police officer, to provide evidence for prosecution of motorists driving ten miles or more over the speed limit.
As a member of that council, I have mixed feelings.
On the positive side, the cameras would promote safety by reducing driving speeds on Hazelwood streets, thereby saving lives and reducing the number of phone calls I get from people complaining about speeders. Okay, so saving lives is more important, but I do get a lot of phone calls on the matter. Safety may also be enhanced because the police will reduce the frequency of having to make the dangerous choice to use their lights and siren to chase speeders.
Cameras provide objective evidence of speeding. I have observed that when people are caught by a police officer breaking a traffic law, there can be a great difference in their perception of the degree of infraction as compared to the officer's. In my own experience, having had one speeding ticket in more than thirty years of driving, I still strongly doubt that I was going as fast on I-170 as that officer from a small municipality in North County said I was going. If there had been evidence taken by a camera, I would have closure.
There is also an issue of fairness; or perhaps justice is a better word. If someone is going 10 miles or more over the speed limit, shouldn't there be a penalty? And these cameras will allow for ALL speeders in traffic at the same time to receive the same penalty, not just the one the police officer can catch. Drivers who believe it is more important to keep up with the flow of traffic than to observe speed limits may want to change their habits.
What this all really boils down to is a conflict of values.
Safety and liberty are in competition here. This is the same kind of conflict I feel when I am going through security in an airport. I actually avoid flying because I don't like the feeling of compromising so much of my liberty for what seems like a remote possibility of improving safety.
Long ago, someone said, "Those who would give up liberty for safety deserve neither."
Does that warning still apply in this case?