Should people be able to issue their neighbours’ traffic tickets? – Streetsblog USA

Imagine a world where every cell phone in every pocket in America could be turned into a portable traffic camera, capable of ticketing misbehaving motorists with more than a few swipes on a touch screen.

It’s a fantasy or a nightmare, depending on who you ask — and it’s a hot topic right now as the New York City Council is considering legislation that would mandate residents to flag cars blocking sidewalks, bike lanes, and buses at a certain distance from schools and would pay the traffic enforcement charge to citizens at a rate 25 percent of the fine, only they are currently being paid to report idle violations.

The bill has led some advocates to call on cities across America to adopt similar policies — while others have warned of what they say would be a disaster for civil liberties with few safety benefits.

Advocates weren’t the only ones wondering whether a citizen traffic app should go viral.

Amid widespread coverage of the New York City proposal, the Silicon Valley company announced that it had patented a new app called SafeSense that would “collect, analyze, and verify user-generated traffic incident reports using artificial intelligence,” in hopes of “significantly expanding the reach of traffic enforcement.” enough to change driver behaviour. The app would theoretically help cities pay a fine for parking and parking violations based on citizens’ footage, as well as automatically filter out justifiable violations, such as a driver temporarily entering a bike lane to make a legal U-turn.

It is not clear to what extent cities can actually rely on AI to speed up ticketing for traffic accidents submitted by citizens – AI snapshots Fixed Traffic cameras in general still have to be reviewed by human officers — but proponents say the safety potential is worth overcoming these challenges.

“With traffic patterns returning to pre-pandemic levels, there is an enhanced need to enforce these laws, and crowdsourcing of violations is one tool that can be leveraged to do so,” said Charlie Treto of Hayden AI, which developed the app. “While there are very few cities that have launched these types of programmes, knowing there is technology available that citizens can use to do this will only help speed up the adoption of these types of policies. … There is no reason, as long as the rules of procedure are followed. due process, such evidence must be treated differently from evidence obtained by a law enforcement official.”

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Despite this, critics of law enforcement say there is a huge difference between evidence captured by police and a photo taken on a bystander’s iPhone — even if that phone is equipped with advanced AI technology and a direct line to the cops.

For all the very valid criticisms leveled at the officers involved (and even some automated types) of traffic enforcement, policemen are at least theoretically trained to do their jobs to agreed-upon public standards, no matter if those rules are broken and that training may be. As Washington Post journalist Luz Lazo wrote in 2019, critics of a proposed D.C. law that would have deputized 80 private citizens to issue parking signals warned that the program could “increase favoritism and discrimination in traffic crackdowns and harm the impartiality generally associated with traffic enforcement.” without finding a clear way to hold a civilian accountable if, for example, he chooses to take pictures of speeding violations committed only by black motorists.

Others have argued that citizen law enforcement could put themselves in danger if motorists who attempt to cite them are carrying weapons, especially if the person taking the photo is not wearing a uniform. If the civil port practiced for him Meanwhile, this can easily lead to racial violence as well.

It should be noted that even a “fair” law enforcement program by a citizen will not be truly just if it is used to enforce unjust laws, especially those governing environments designed in unfair ways. An advanced AI program could one day, after all, be used to ticket people to ride their bikes on the sidewalk—even if their neighborhoods don’t have bike lanes, as there often aren’t communities of color.

“In general, delegating everyone to do law enforcement work is not a great idea,” said Lisa Foster, co-executive director of the Center for Justice in Fines and Fees. “It smacks of soberness; it’s un-American in a very basic way.”

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Foster notes, though, that a primary concern in civil law enforcement is how to distract from solutions that might themselves make citations unnecessary, such as a barrier that effectively prevents a driver from parking in a bike lane. Before A neighbor had the opportunity to take a picture of her car. Some street safety advocates would argue, of course, that most American cities are unlikely to protect every bike lane within their borders anytime soon — though others might dispute that giving them money every time someone is caught endangering a rider Bike on painted trail only. Implicitly incentivize municipalities not to build poles at all.

This debate may be resolved if the law requires cities to allocate good revenue exclusively to Vision Zero projects, of which there are almost none now. If money were diverted to give citizen enforcers a cut, it would dilute potential funding for self-enforcing infrastructure even further, while providing a whole new population with a strong incentive to focus on deterrence strategies more than holistic and prevention-based. Approach.

Furthermore, Foster points out that for high-income motorists, true deterrence through fines alone can be difficult to achieve — while for the poor, even the smallest monetary penalty can be disastrous.

“The problem with the flat microstructure we have today is that it’s the same amount regardless of one’s economic circumstances,” she adds. “If our goal is deterrence, which it should be, then the amount it will take to deter me will be more than the amount it will take to deter a minimum wage worker — and much less than, say, Michael Bloomberg or Donald Trump. … For many For people, a $100 parking ticket means they’ll sacrifice buying food, paying rent, or paying for healthcare, just to pay that fine.”

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While advocates debate what an effective and fair approach to traffic enforcement might look like, though, American road users continue to die in record numbers—and some believe that law enforcement itself, if done properly, may help save lives. (Editor’s note: Supporters of the New York law cite, for example, the case of Madison Layden, a cyclist who was killed after being forced out of a bike lane by an illegally parked taxi whose driver might have thought twice if he or she was subject to a ticket.)

Hayden AI representatives point out that even if their app is never used to issue a single fine, it is could It is used to document where dangerous driving occurs outside the line of view of fixed cameras and police, and that its analytics can efficiently identify where infrastructure investment is most needed.

One way to address the issues [of bias] With data,” Tereto added. “The Safe Sense app and the data and insights it can provide will better inform other cities and municipalities about the different types of violations that are occurring, where they are occurring, and most importantly, provide a way for citizens who believe communities lack additional tools at their disposal to document These types of violations.

If a citizen-by-citizen law enforcement campaign becomes a citizen-data-collecting effort that revolutionizes road design, perhaps American police never will. need to To write another ticket — and cities might even be able to pay residents their contributions from the vast sums of money that would likely be saved by ending serious car accidents.

“Parking in a bike lane or blocking access to the sidewalk is not safe, and can cause real harm,” Foster added. “The question for us is, how do you best solve this problem? Are we, frankly, taking the easy way out, and saying the answer is to have people martyred and fined for this behavior — rather than trying to understand what we can do to stop them?” [from doing it in the first place]? ”

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