The Maryland Court of Appeals will jump into the battles of whether it is reasonable to allow speed and red light camera merchants to receive a “commission” every time the camera catches a violator. A group of Prince George’s, Montgomery, Howard, and Frederick County residents says the payments, made by Montgomery County, Gaithersburg, and Rockville, are illegal. [2018 update: the court found it reasonable.]
This is the latest in a long, long battle between libertarians and their brethren and the photo enforcement technology industry, that operates speed cameras and red light cameras for local municipalities. The two most common photo enforcement systems are red-light cameras, designed to detect motorists who enter an intersection after the light has turned red, and speed cameras, designed to detect motorists going a certain amount over the posted speed limit. There is no question that people die in Maryland because people run red lights and drive too fast. The purpose is to discourage this activity. Are companies and the government profiting off this effort? Of course they are.
One stunning example of this is the case of the former CEO of Redflex. This company is one of the leading providers of traffic cameras in the country. She pled guilty to bribery in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Chicago. She apparently posted a help-wanted ad for a bagman in Chicago. This is the kind of stuff that drives libertarians, and most of us, crazy.