American life

Speed Zone Cameras are Taxing our Patience

This week our local Nassau Co NY Legislature shied away from a property tax increase of 3.4% or about $41 for the average homeowner. Election day shyness.

At least that property tax rise would have been up front. While certainly not a treat it is at least not the the trick of speed zone cameras they think they duped us with. I’d rather pay the $41 than the $80 for a “gotcha” fine. We driving citizens know what up-front action is and what transparent “child safety” tax ploys are.

These ploys are grossly unfair. Almost all of the fines levied against motorists at these school speed zone cameras are for those who have inadvertently transgressed the speed limit. There is a distinct lack of intent in these violations.

If you drive in rush hour traffic you are more apt to pick up on all the other cars doing the slo-mo through the camera zone. You look around and it’s surreal. It’s like being in one of those TV commercials where the woman runs down the beach all slo-mo, hair slowly whipping up in the misty sunrise.

Woman jogs sunrise mist pony tail flyingDSC_1416 copy

But if you are leaving home late, say a retiree going off to an 11:00 a.m. doctor’s appointment you are likely to be traveling down that brown brick road with only a few cars or maybe all alone. And if you’re not very attentive, worrying about that doctor’s prognosis, an IED (Improvised Entrapment Device) awaits. You’re more likely not to slow down in time. Wham! Bam! Eighty bucks more for that doctor’s visit, Ma’am, thank you very much.

And when you have transgressed the Magnificent Money Machine the violation notice doesn’t come for three or four weeks allowing a driver to rack up more debt not realizing he’s in violation in that radioactive zone. As you know $30 of that $80 fine is for Administrative fees but if you want to pay by phone or computer there is an additional “convenience” fee. I kid you not, this is not a Saturday Night Live skit.

I don’t know about you out there but my phone rings regularly with a message from all manner of local politicians telling me what wonderful things are being accomplished. They never lose my number for that. But for three or four weeks the County doesn’t give me a heads up with a robo-phone call: “You’ve been recorded in violation of section blah blah at such and such street. A summons is forthcoming. Please slow down.”

No, those poor kids remain in danger of me hurtling down the Nassau Autobahn at velocities approaching 32 mph. Have they no shame? But this late-notice policy allows a possible 2 or 3 more violations before the tug on the coat goes to the driver.

And tickets. Parking, school speed zone, or red light camera are all devoid of equal justice. A ticket for eighty bucks is a whole days pay for a laborer making $10 an hour but only twenty minutes at an hourly rate of $240 for an attorney, doctor, or other professional. And many make much, much more, I’m fully aware.

Where is equal justice under the law here? Sure the better off deserve their Georgica Pond digs and Rolex watches but when the law is violated shouldn’t the punishment be equal for all? Even those of lesser wealth but still relatively rich get a pass. Maybe a half day’s income or a certain percentage of gross annual income, one tenth of one percent of a persons gross or whatever would be more fair. Not only would that would be a fairer guide for penalties it may also better solve some of those tax woes!

The way it stands illegal parking or driving too fast in school zones is a mere inconvenience to the well off, not a penalty, not even an inconvenience if they have their staff take care of the pesky fines once a month. Why should the well off consider slowing in a county money-making school zone if they are pressed for time and time is money? Just speed up and blow those 17-mph-serfs off the road.

Be well,

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