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South Carolina at Center of Speed Trap Debate, Part I

Interstate 95 runs all the way from Florida to Maine, including through both North and South Carolina. Travelers from all over the country use the highway to get from one place to another, and many of those travelers stop in the Carolinas. Now, a speed camera in Ridgeland, South Carolina, may cause those travelers to find other routes.

Speed cameras have been controversial since cities began installing them. Ridgeland's iTraffic camera system is no different. Drivers who have been ticketed and citizens of the town alike have voiced concerns about the legality and prudence of the camera system and the speeding tickets that are issued to drivers who are never pulled over by a police officer.

Some argue that the speed camera and subsequent tickets violate a law passed by South Carolina in 2009 that banned the practice of giving people tickets "based solely on photographic evidence" like that collected by speed cameras. The town mayor says that the speed camera set up on I-95 does not violate this law because it is operated by a police officer who is sitting in an RV along the side of the road.

Even the state governor questions that logic. However, he refrained from taking sides. Instead, he suggested that the state legislature should clarify what the law means when the General Assembly reconvenes.

Regardless of the legality of the speed camera system, some drivers simply don't like the idea of getting a traffic ticket without the chance to speak with an officer. As one man from New York put it, he "didn't even know [he] went through the town" until he received a $173 speeding ticket weeks later.

Later this week, we will discuss how the speed camera is impacting drivers from South Carolina and other states.

Source: Beaufort Gazette (via, "Ridgeland's I-95 traffic camera system: Public safety tool or a speed trap?" Patrick Donohue, 18 Dec 2010

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