If you want to know how many $100 tickets motorists have received since June 23, when a first red-light camera system went on line in Philadelphia, officials at the Philadelphia Parking Authority say they are barred from providing such information, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. A provision in the state law that allows the city to use the cameras at traffic intersections puts photographs, written records, reports, facsimiles, names, addresses, and “the number of violations” off limits to the public.
Critics say the provision leaves the public with no way of knowing whether the cameras are effective in helping reduce accidents at dangerous intersections or just mechanical money-makers. “How do you know if it is about safety or if it is about revenue?” asked Eric Skrum of the National Motorists’ Association, a group that has lobbied against the cameras nationwide. State Rep. Richard Geist, who sponsored the law that allows the city to use the cameras, said it is up to the Parking Authority’s attorney whether the ticket information can be released. Geist said the law was meant to ensure that a person’s privacy would not be violated; people would not want insurance companies combing through the names and license-plate numbers of people who receive tickets. He would not explain how someone’s privacy would be violated by the release of statistics on tickets issued.