In 2014, Texas oos Member Ted Levitt had the opportunity to advocate against school bus stop arm cameras and school zone speed cameras in a county adjacent to his. With this written testimony (that he also read at the meeting), he was able to help convince the county commissioners to NOT install the cameras after he informed them of the Texas law.
As soon as I found out that Rains County is considering signing contract with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) for the installation and use of school bus stop cameras and unmanned school zone speed camera systems I felt the need to come here and speak on the record. I have been tracking ATS and the use of these camera systems around the country for many years.
ATS claims in their advertising material and perhaps on their salesman’s disingenuous, inappropriate and incorrect use of the term “safety” that these systems improve school zone and school bus safety. The National Highway Safety Board reported that between 2002 and 2011 the nation’s 450,000 public school buses traveled more than 4.3 billion miles to transport 23.5 million children to and from school each year. The report found that during that 10 year period only 123 school-age pedestrians died. Of that number 88 were killed by the BUS. To the best of my information there have been no accidents or fatalities, or even official complaints, in Rains County to school-age pedestrians. These camera systems would be installed to fight a problem that doesn’t exist. Other studies and reports de-bunk the safety issues as being nothing more than a clever way for ATS to raise its bottom line while statistically these photo camera systems do nothing to improve school zone and school bus safety.
More importantly, the Texas Transportation Code forbids the use of automatic traffic control systems and reads as follows:
Limitation On Municipalities
(a) A municipality may not implement or operate an automated traffic control system with respect to a highway or street under its jurisdiction for the purpose of enforcing compliance with posted speed limits. The attorney general shall enforce this subsection:
(b) In this section, “automated traffic control system” means a photographic device, radar device, laser device, or other electrical or mechanical device designed to:
(1) record the speed of a motor vehicle; and
(2) obtain one or more photographs or other recorded images of:
(A) the vehicle;
(B) the license plate attached to the vehicle; or
(C) the operator of the vehicle.
Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 646, Sec. 1, eff. June 15, 2007.
This Act takes effect September 1, 2007.
Further, there are many other issues that the Commissioners Court should be aware of regarding ATS:
- ATS has been sued by 70 Florida communities and has been ordered by the Court to repay a portion of all ticket fines going back to July 1, 2010 for failing to follow Constitutional Due Process requirements where the 70 communities allowed an ATS employee to review the camera data for the police who subsequently issued the tickets. The 6thAmendment requires that a defendant be allowed to confront their accuser. ATS is head-quartered in Tempe, Arizona and would not and did not provide the technician who analyzed the data for cross-examination.
- Courts across this country have ruled that these camera tickets have violated the defendants Constitutional Rights under (1) 4thAmendment exclusionary rule (2) 5th Amendment due process (3) 6th Amendment confrontation clause, Hearsay rule, out of court statements and under the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Crawford v. Washington (2004) (4) 7th Amendment trial for all matters of $20 or more (5) 14th Amendment equal protection clause.
- ATS has been sued in 16 N.J. cases and settled these cases for the return $4.2 million an expected $800,000 in attorney fees. These tickets were issued without the equipment being properly inspected and maintained and by uncertified technicians in violation of state law. As I understand it Rains County would be responsible for these inspections and certifications. Section 644.101(d) of theTexas Transportation Code also requires the same inspections and certification. Does Rains County have certified technicians and certified inspection equipment?
- ATS settled a Missouri class-action case for the refund of 20% of all camera ticket fines which is expected to cost ATS $16 Million.
- ATS settled several suits in Canada in 2011 for $13,000,000.
- ATS is currently being sued in Federal Court in St. Louis, Missouri where ATS is charged with violating 15 U.S.C. 1601 et seq. Of Title VIII – Consumer Credit Protection Act and 42 U.S.C. 1985 – Conspiracy to interfere with civil rights of the Federal Statutes.
It is my opinion that if Rains County was to enter into the proposed contract, which by Statute is illegal, ATS and the County could be charged with conspiracy to commit the following: extortion as it is illegal to issue camera tickets under Section 542.2035 of the Transportation Code; mail fraud as the illegal tickets are mailed; wire fraud as ATS’s portion of illegal ticket fines are transferred electronically to ATS.
I further believe that the officer that issues a camera ticket would also be a party to these acts and also commits perjury if he testifies at trial and for submitting a false government document as he did not see the actual offense committed. Further, section 644.101(d) of the Texas Transportation Code states only a properly trained and certified Sheriff, a deputy sheriff or any peace officer may enforce traffic and highway laws, not an ATS employee in Arizona.
Also, both ATS and Rains County could be charged with violating the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (18 U.S.C. §§ 1961–1968) commonly known as the RICO Act as well as other Federal violations.
I urge the Commissioners to look very carefully at the contract and assess all the negatives before entering into the proposed one-side and illegal contract. All credible data shows that the installation of these illegal camera systems does nothing to improve safety and only enriches ATS at the public’s expense and liability. ATS is nothing more than the modern day snake oil salesman that has a cure for whatever ailment you believe you have.
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Editor’s Note: Here is some updated data for your use.
In 2007-2016, the national data showed that there were 37 child deaths by cars and 62 deaths by the buses. The combined data from 1999-2016 shows the average of 36.22 child deaths by car per 10 years and 82.89 by the buses.
In the past two years, Dallas, Texas has been reeling from a total debacle with stop arm cameras that bankrupted the school district due to corruption. It is a different company with a different set of problems that Ted describes above, but throws serious doubt on the whole system of cameras for profits. This story of corruption continues but here is a good overview: .
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