Once a rarity, traffic cameras are filming across the nation. The latest technology, says the Wall Street Journal, includes cameras that keep tabs on highways to catch speeders in the act and infrared license-plate readers that nab ticket and tax scofflaws. Drivers, accusing law enforcement of using spy tactics to trap unsuspecting citizens, are fighting back with everything from pick axes to camera-blocking Santa Clauses. They’re using sprays that promise to blur license numbers and Web sites that plot the cameras’ locations and offer tips to beat them.
Critics cite research showing cameras can actually lead to more rear-end accidents because drivers often slam their brakes when they see signs warning them of cameras in the area. Others are angry that the cameras are run by for-profit companies that are paid $5,000 per camera each month. “We’re putting law enforcement in the hands of third parties,” says Ryan Denke, a Peoria, Az., electrical engineer who started a Web site, Photoradarscam.com, to protest the state’s speed cameras.