January 03, 2006

4x4 Posers or Just Camera-Shy?

The midnight-blue Range Rover with Texas plates parked next to my Jeep at the motel in Taos last week might have benefited from a can of spray-on mud.

But while the pure Shropshire dirt in aquaeous solution is sold for the stated purpose of allowing sedate 4x4 owners to make it look as though they actually used their vehicles offroad, the real purpose, more likely, is to thwart Britain's growing array of closed-circuit traffic camera. If, as this UK cop-blogger says, the police are turning into social workers, then closed-circuit cameras will make society perfect. (You believe that, don't you?)

Even Boing-Boing got it wrong, at first.

I am a little more cynical about traffic cameras after an experience this fall. Last July I sold my well-cared-for Volkswagen Westfalia camper van to a guy from Fort Collins, who came all the way down here to look at it and paid me almost as much as I was asking.

About two weeks later, not having yet registered it to himself (bad new VW owner), he drove too fast through an intersection with a speed camera.

Months later, I got the court summons. (The photograph that was supposed to be included to prove my misdeed was missing.) I protested. I got another summons. I protested again. All this took weeks. Eventually the charge was dropped--I guess I finally convinced them that I did not own it, was not driving it, and had not set foot in Fort Collins since about 1995.

I was afraid that as a fugitive, I would never be able to return to that city of "broad streets and narrow minds," as my cynical high-school friends used to say.

If I lived there still, I might patronize these people. For mud, I can just go down my own driveway.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Personally, I hate the photo-surveilance. First, its lazy. Secondly, the police provide more than just punishment - their very presence serves as a deterrent. A subconscious reminder that the law is out there.

Take the cops off the street, and that subconscious fear of "getting caught" begins to fade. Cameras are nothing more than cheap money grabs.