Ugh. Yes. I started my blog out with ugh. Photo cops. Vans with computerized radar guns. They sit in camouflaged areas in hopes of nailing speeders. I drove past one over the weekend, and my mind started to wonder, why do we have photo cops? A few years ago I got a speeding ticket while going over a bridge in Portland. It is hard to explain my side of the story because it was on a bridge where the speed limit changes three times while on the bridge. I never noticed the photo cop, and other than an address on the ticket that does not really exist (it is a bridge) it is hard to know where they took a photo of my car. The ticket showed I was speeding at the start of the bridge, and my 6 mph over the speed limit came out to a $200 ticket. All taken by a van with a radar camera.
Here is what I found out: The photo radar van can take two photos every second. There is an uniformed officer stationed in the van. I always thought they parked the vans and came back later. If there is an officer in the van, why not put the lights on and come after the offender? $200 seems like a hefty fine for 6 mph over the speed limit, which made me think it was another way for Portland to make more money, but their website states that any money from paid speeding tickets goes back to the photo radar program.
My frustration with photo cops: If you are going to give me a speeding ticket, follow me in a cop car, pull me over and give me a ticket. Do not rely on a van with a computer. It feels like calling a company and being repeatedly sent through the automated prompts on their phone line, over and over again. I want the personal interaction of the cop that pulls me over, let him yell at me, or let me explain where my head was, or about the signs, or let me just admit I was speeding. I would take that any day to receiving an envelope in the mail days or weeks later with a high price tag. A ticket in the mail seems more passive aggressive. Right?
I know they are supposed to deter drivers from speeding, but it feels like getting caught sneaking out at night by a robot rather than your parents. What do you think?