Listen Live
St. Louis Public Radio. News That Matters

 

Local Programs

 

Schedules

 

About Programs

 

Listen

 

About HD Radio

 

St. Louis Public Radio Is
My Source For...

Professor Cordell Schulten"Pondering the persistent questions of life with my students." -Professor Cordell Schulten


Hear why people are so passionate about St. Louis Public Radio.

>> More


Home > Programs > Commentaries > Commentary Detail

Commentary Detail


Warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Chicago' for 'CDT/-5.0/DST' instead in /home/stlpub/public_html/includes/commentarydetail.inc.php on line 14
Safer But Paranoid
Commentary by: Wm. Stage
Aired June 11, 2008


George Orwell's famous novel, "1984", written in 1948, depicts a paranoid society kept in line by a regime that seems to know every move a citizen can make. Sixty years later Big Brother is still watching us.

Enter the Traffic Violation Photo Enforcement Program, an innovation that like it or not will make model drivers of us all. Positioned cameras take sequential photos of any vehicle in the intersection when the traffic signal was red. The camera records the license plate of the offending vehicle whose owner receives by mail a citation and a fine.

A blow for public safety or government-sanctioned robbery?

Since the program began a year ago, St. Louis City alone has mailed more than 45,000 citations, averaging 125 tickets a day. For each $100 fine collected, about 2/3 goes to the City and the rest goes to American Traffic Solutions, the Arizona-based company that installs and monitors the cameras.

The driving public may grouse but what good does it do? Camera-generated tickets are here to stay, maybe. The program is being challenged. Arnold, Missouri is the target of a federal lawsuit which alleges, among other things, the city is committing mail fraud by extorting payment. Attorney Chet Pleban, who filed the lawsuit, says camera tickets are unconstitutional and will some day be scrapped.

Meanwhile, the cameras are at work, catching unwitting motorists at every turn. Some applaud this tool believing that something must be done about reckless driving. There will be growing pains with this, but in the end we’ll all be safer...safer, but like the characters of Orwell’s novel, paranoid.


(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)

Back to Commentaries

Wm. Stage

Wm. Stage

Commentator

A journalist and photographer since 1982, Wm. Stage has plumbed the life stories of thousands of people. He has taught photojournalism at Saint Louis University's School for Professional Studies [1990-96] and he is an alumnus of the Photojournalism Workshop, offered by University of Missouri - Columbia's School of Journalism and held in a different Missouri town every year since 1946. He is the author of six non-fiction books including Have A Weird Day: Reflections and Ruminations on the St. Louis Experience. He lives with his dog, Jack, in The Hill neighborhood of St. Louis.

More Wm. Stage Commentaries