Between 2007 and 2009, the city of Chattanooga's speed vans gave out 36,683 tickets. That is almost half of all tickets given by automated traffic cameras in Chattanooga.
The biggest problem with these cameras, though, is what they don't detect. According to a study carried out by the U.S. Department of Transportation, speed is only a factor in around 9 percent of accidents. These speed vans only check for one thing, speed; therefore the driver of the vehicle could be driving drunk or have drugs in the car and, as long as they aren't speeding, they will not receive a ticket.
These speed vans also are incredibly unfair to drivers. Signs are not required to warn drivers of speed vans, and somebody just driving with the flow of traffic a few miles over the speed limit can receive a ticket. While it's true they were in fact speeding, if more traditional speed traps were being used those drivers would not be pulled over.
These speed vans need to be outlawed, and at the very least their needs to be more regulation in place for signage and location of speed vans.
Conservatives would have us believe that anything done by government is corrupt, wasteful and inefficient, and that the answer to everything is tax cuts, privatization and deregulation. How many times do we have to be fed this hogwash before we learn?
This nation won a fratricidal civil war, developed into the world's leading industrial and military power, won two world wars, created what was once the world's best public education system and defeated world communism at least partially through the efforts of government. Government can be slow, inefficient and at times unresponsive. But when it does move it does so effectively, massively and awesomely.
We rose to undisputed world dominance in the 20th century in a time of relatively high taxes, increased government regulation and a strong organized-labor movement. But since the beginning of Reagan's "Government IS the Problem" era, we have been slipping behind in almost every social and economic measurement.
Once a world leader in income equality, today we are a complete loner among developed nations and more closely resemble Mexico than Canada. But until the American middle class stops cutting its own economic throat every time it goes to the polls, nothing much is going to change.
GEORGE B. REED JR., Rossville, Ga.