Tom Davis has the right approach on cameras

Sen. Tom Davis is my favorite Sanfordista, because while he believes some unlikely things with which I disagree, he at least takes a reasonable approach to things. He has a laudable willingness to engage with people with other views, and to avoid letting his ideology blind him:

BEAUFORT, SC (AP) – Beaufort Sen. Tom Davis wants a commission to study automated traffic cameras like the ones being used in Ridgeland on Interstate 95.

Ridgeland’s use of the cameras to catch speeders has prompted a senator to offer a bill to outlaw the cameras, as well as a federal lawsuit challenging the use of the cameras.

Davis wants a panel of members of state government, law enforcement and the South Carolina Bar Association to report to lawmakers by Nov. 1.

Bonneau Sen. Larry Grooms wants to ban traffic tickets based on photos and to require police to give tickets to drivers within an hour of a violation.

Ridgeland has mailed tickets to more than 8,000 drivers since last summer.

Some Beaufort County House members have offered a bill to ensure the traffic cameras are legal.

Yes, study it. While I vehemently defend the local government’s right to do this without being stepped on by the state (that subsidiarity thing again), I’d like to know more. I have my own reservations. For instance, don’t you lose a deterrent effect when the speeder is not stopped at the time of the offense (which tends to slow him down, at least for a time). Is that deterrent loss offset by the signage warning drivers of the camera’s presence? I don’t know.

But the standard should be, What works? Not vague anti-gummint ideology, or the preferences of the defense lawyers who represent speeders, or the perverse urge to frustrate local communities’ desire to govern themselves without state interference, or any of the other factors that tend to predominate in our XGR.

5 thoughts on “Tom Davis has the right approach on cameras

  1. Mark Stewart


    I think you have your Subsidiarity upside-down on this one.

    Ridgeland just wants to suck revenue from passing tourists – giving people all the more reason NOT to want to exit the interstate and explore our state.

    While I’m not sure whether I am opposed to camera usage in general or in favor of them (from experience I see them more about revenue collections than safety), I definitely don’t like the idea of local police (even sheriffs) being able to place cameras on interstates.

    If it was the Highway Patrol and what the department felt was advisable to enhance safety, fine.

  2. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    Growing up in Aiken, we all knew where not to speed because the likelihood of receiving a ticket was very high. Word gets out. Lots of people know not to speed in Cayce or South Congaree because of the speed vigilance.
    People in states with decent speed enforcement, like Pennsylvania, simply know not to speed. Places like GA–not so much. I find it hard to keep up with the vehicles on the Perimeter in Atlanta–zoom zoom!

  3. bud

    The important point on this issue which everyone seems to be glossing over is why did they put the cameras in to begin with? If there was a LEGITIMATE safety issue with lots and lots of carnage then by all means use the cameras to slow folks down. But if it was simply to bilk folks out of their hard earned money then shame on them. And to take this one step further, has the carnage decreased since the cameras were installed?

  4. Jim Duffy

    Why is the use of cameras in this instance such a problem? It is no more intrusive than camers located at traffic lights to catch motorists ignoring signals. Is it worse than police hiding at low points or behind something and using radar guns? It is not a financial rip off of motorists if they receive a ticket any more so than in any instance,\. The perceived value of a monetary fine is to alert the guilty party that they have broken a law. Raising revenue is an off shoot.


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