Newspaper Reports Debunk Myths about Safety and Red Light Cameras

Published: Fri Nov 11 2005

WASHINGTON -- All across the United States the studies and news reports in one city after another reveal a consistent result: red light cameras do not contribute to a lower accident rate, and the system regularly gives tickets to innocent drivers.

"The red-light cameras just don't work as advertised. Thousands of innocent drivers are getting tickets they do not deserve," said Joe Scott of PhantomPlate, Inc. "The red light cameras actually lead to an increase in rear-end accidents as drivers slam on their brakes to avoid citations. Speed cameras are inaccurate and regularly ticket drivers who were below the speed limit."

Millions of people each year receive tickets from red light and speed cameras, and many complain that those tickets are sent in error. Most believe that the process of defending themselves is so challenging and expensive that it is easier to just pay the fine and move on with life.

Many drivers use PhotoBlocker (tm), a very inexpensive, simple method to prevent most red light and speed camera tickets. A form of self-defense against imperfect technology, according to Scott. PhantomPlate has a web site at

PhotoBlocker (tm) is a simple aerosol spray that when applied to a license plate does not in any way alter the appearance of the plate to the naked eye, but the flash picture from a red-light camera or speed camera makes the number on the plate unreadable.

Reports from all around the nation support the claims made by Scott. His company makes PhotoBlocker (tm), a spray used by more and more drivers as a form of protection against unjust tickets. Brisk sales of the spray indicate that a growing number of motorists are trying to protect themselves from a system that is unfair, and does not work.

City officials claim the traffic enforcement cameras are needed to increase safety, and they also claim they are not motivated by the revenue the cameras produce. The evidence does not support those claims.

The Washington Post recently conducted an independent examination of the effectiveness of Washington, D.C.'s 45 intersections with red-light cameras. The results? Injury and fatal crashes climbed 81 percent, and broadside wrecks -- considered among the most dangerous -- increased 30 percent.

The response of city officials is to add more red light cameras at additional intersections.

"Cities need money, and politicians often look to speed cameras and red light cameras as a great source of revenue. All around the country drivers are becoming victims, and thousands are getting tickets they do not deserve," said Scott.

The Virginia Department of Transportation conducted a study and increased the length of the yellow-light cycle by 1.5 seconds at an intersection with red light cameras. The increase in the yellow-light time resulted in a 94 percent drop in citations at the intersection.
"When the yellow-light cycle is too short it doesn't allow drivers enough time to clear the intersection. Those drivers are law-abiding citizens who are victims of a system designed to maximize revenue, not reduce accidents. They did nothing wrong. So now they are using PhotoBlocker spray to prevent unjust tickets," said Scott.

Red light cameras in the state of Virginia were turned off earlier this year because the legislature agreed that the cameras are ineffective, and imperfect. However, other states continue to use the cameras and are anxious to add more.

One city was recently caught using a short yellow light to generate a high number of tickets. Union City, Calif. was forced to refund over $1 million in fines improperly collected from a red light camera at an intersection with a short yellow light. The short light was 1.3 seconds below the minimum time required by law, so it was trapping motorists who could not stop in time to avoid a ticket.

Drivers cannot help but wonder how many other cities use short yellow light times to boost the number of tickets generated by red light cameras.

"Use of the PhotoBlocker spray grows with every report in the news about enforcement camera problems," said Scott. "Drivers are not using the spray in order to violate the law. They are protecting themselves from greedy cities and a system that is not working as advertised."

A short yellow light forces drivers to decide whether to run the light and risk a ticket, or slam on the brakes to avoid the ticket, but risk a rear end collision. A study by the Texas Transportation Institute reported that adding an extra second of yellow light time can cut accidents by 40 percent or more.

A recent report in the Colorado Avalanche revealed that a system of red light cameras in Ft. Collins issued 64 percent more citations, but the citations did nothing to reduce accidents. The Coloradoan newspaper reported an increase in accidents of 83 percent at the same intersection. In spite of this, city officials are considering the addition of more red light cameras in the city, even though they agree that the report does not support their claim that the cameras improve safety.

At one intersection in Ft. Collins a different approach was taken. The time before the yellow light turns to red was lengthened by one second. The number of citations issued by the red light camera dropped by more than 60 percent, and the number of accidents at the intersection dropped 57 percent, according to the Colorado Avalanche.

"Most drivers are good people who want to obey the law. If cities give them enough time to either stop or clear the intersection they will. But as long as cities use short yellow lights to generate more revenue through increased tickets, motorists will resort to PhotoBlocker to protect themselves," said Scott.

In 2001 the city of Mesa, Ariz. also lengthened the time for yellow lights by one second. That action is credited with a permanent safety improvement and a reduction of 73 percent in the number of citations issued by red light cameras. That caused a major decline in revenue, which the city has taken steps to improve, according to a recent report in the Arizona Republic.

The speed limit on most roads in Mesa has been lowered, and speeding fines are now higher. Mesa has speed cameras and a combination of red light cameras that also catch speeders. The lower speed limits are expected to improve revenue for the city, according to the Arizona Republic.

It is not known how many cities lower speed limits in an effort to issue more tickets from speed cameras.

"Drivers are the victims. A month ago they were obeying the law in Mesa and there were very few speeding tickets. Now with the lower speed limits drivers who were obeying the law are now considered violators and are getting hit with increased fines," said Scott.

Not all cities are making money on the traffic enforcement camera systems. California cities Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Oceanside, Vista, Escondido and Poway have all reported a loss or are breaking even, according to news reports.

City officials in Marysville, Calif. ignored the reports of loss by other cities. They added a red light enforcement system a few months ago to offset a $1 million deficit in the city budget, according to the Appeal-Democrat.

The Philadelphia Weekly reported a 20 percent increase in accidents at red light camera intersections in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Inquirer revealed that drivers are getting tickets they do not deserve because the system is flawed. One man got a ticket in the mail even though the car in the photo was not his. The license plate was read incorrectly and the ticket was sent to the man in error.

The man questioned how many other innocent drivers are getting tickets they do not deserve, but they do not fight because they believe they cannot win against the enforcement cameras.

The law in Pennsylvania is being used to shield the red light program from scrutiny. The Philadelphia Weekly reported that the law enables cities to refuse to give information, including how many tickets are issued.

A woman in Davenport, Iowa received a ticket in error and was reported by the press when she attempted to appeal her red light ticket twice and was turned away both times. She gave up work and followed instructions on the ticket for making an appeal, but was sent home in frustration.

The recent incident in Davenport gives further evidence that the system is not working, and it also supports the concerns by most drivers that it is far too difficult to fight the automated tickets. Prevention is easier and less expensive.

"Drivers are tired of getting tickets they do not deserve. The cost in time and money to defend themselves is excessive, so they would rather use PhotoBlocker (tm) spray to save money by preventing the unjust tickets. We want our roads to be safe, and we do not encourage anyone to break the law. But we know how frustrating it is to get a ticket you do not deserve," explained Scott.

Incidents reported in the media increase the demand for cans of PhotoBlocker (tm) spray. The company reports sales of over 350,000 cans protecting over 1 million vehicles 23 countries. The product is available from many local distributors, retail outlets, and over the Internet at

"We get calls, e-mails and letters from many professionals who are very happy with the effectiveness of PhotoBlocker spray. Journalists, doctors, lawyers, firefighters, teachers, and judges themselves have resorted to using PhotoBlocker spray to avoid entrapment," said Scott.

Joe Scott

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