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South Carolina at Center of Speed Trap Debate, Part II

Earlier this week, we talked about the controversial speed camera in Ridgeland, South Carolina. While the question of whether or not issuing speeding tickets based on images from the camera is legal is still up in the air, drivers have voiced numerous other concerns regarding the iTraffic system on I-95.

One of the primary concerns is that the speed camera puts out-of-state drivers at an unfair disadvantage. Most of the time, when a driver receives a traffic ticket, that driver can appeal the ticket in court. But to do so, the driver must go to court. Out-of-state drivers would spend more money getting back to Ridgeland to fight the speeding tickets than they do simply paying them.

Even the mayor of Ridgeland admits that nearly 90 percent of the drivers who have been ticketed after being caught by the speed camera are from out of state. Citizens of Ridgeland and the surrounding area are worried that people will look for other ways to get from one state to another, and that might mean bypassing their towns altogether. That could mean a significant loss of revenue for businesses.

Another concern is that the town of Ridgeland is putting money-making ahead of the needs of drivers on I-95. Although the town mayor argues that revenue is not a driving factor, the significant increase in revenue since the camera's installation is hard to deny. In November of this year, Ridgeland sent more than $100,000 to the state as revenue from traffic tickets and assessments. Last year, the town only sent $37,415. Many analysts have said that the increase in revenue is due mainly to the new speed camera system.

The last concern people have voiced has to do with the contract between the city and iTraffic, the camera system company. Apparently, Ridgeland did not have to pay for the installation and operation of the iTraffic cameras. Instead, the town is splitting revenue from traffic violation citations generated by the system with the company. This scheme doesn't sit well with many of the people who have received tickets because of the new cameras.

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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