Share Moments, Share Life, Share Revenue Too? Speed Cameras In Cobb County (Part 2)

An outline drawing of a car passing under a speeding camera with the label "70." The Cobb County Courier logo is in the lower left hand corner

By John A. Tures, Professor of Political Science, LaGrange College

Nowadays, most young people may not know what “Kodak” was, but for many of us, the traditional family camera, and developed film, were a major part of our lives before the advent of social media. And the Kodak’s slogan “Share Moments, Share Life.”

In Cobb County, cameras are about to be another integral part of our lives, with the proposed expansion of speed cameras. And we can add “Share Revenue” to the Kodak slogan, as local politicians decide where the influx of ticket money will go.

Speed cameras are nothing new, as they are permitted in school zones. But Cobb County Commissioners are strongly considering expanding them throughout the county. In addition to debates over if they should proliferate throughout the county, and at what speeds to set the numbers, there’s a lot of disagreement over where the revenue should go, beyond the purchase, installation and maintenance of these machines.

Wilson, Willis, Hendrikz, LeBrocque and Bellamy did a deep dive on a large number of studies of speed cameras. And they found “Twenty eight studies measured the effect on crashes. All 28 studies found a lower number of crashes in the speed camera areas after implementation of the program. In the vicinity of camera sites, the reductions ranged from 8% to 49% for all crashes, with reductions for most studies in the 14% to 25% range. For injury crashes the decrease ranged between 8% to 50% and for crashes resulting in fatalities or serious injuries the reductions were in the range of 11% to 44%….For crashes resulting in death or serious injury reductions ranged from 17% to 58%, with most studies reporting this result in the 30% to 40% reduction range. The studies of longer duration showed that these positive trends were either maintained or improved with time.”

But not all are sold on the idea of speed cameras. In the Marietta Daily Journal, State Rep. Dave Wilkerson (District 38) claims that the proposal could set a dangerous precedent, and not just with how fast cars are driving. “If it increases public safety, I’m OK somewhat with speed cameras…If it’s used as a revenue source, I am completely against using any kind of fines to fund our public safety.”

Funding law enforcement seems like the most logical step, given the expenses that go along with policing, both in salaries of officers and the procurement and maintenance of vehicles, weapons and other tools of the trade. But there’s a call for others to get a share of that revenue. Cobb County D.A. Flynn Broady notes that his office could use some of that for their increasing needs.

Chief Magistrate Brendan Murphy pointed out that with more tickets, that means more work for his court team. “Please don’t forget that even in these automated tickets, real people have real due process rights. So even with these automated tickets, it takes clerks and judges to make it happen….I know I don’t have the clerks, I think everybody does not have the clerks, to handle that,” he added for the Marietta Daily Journal.

In his article “Speed Cameras: Improving Safety or Raising Revenue?” Richard Tay claims “Despite numerous studies showing the effectiveness of speed enforcement, especially automated speed enforcement, in reducing crashes, public debate still continues in regard to the revenue-raising aspect of speed enforcement.” Writing in the Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, Tay finds “Using speed camera enforcement data from the City of Edmonton, this study found that catching offenders had a significant effect in reducing injury crashes that was beyond the deterrent effect provided by the presence of police on the roads alone. The apprehension of offenders is therefore a key component needed to maximise the effectiveness of the speed camera programme and not solely as a means to raise revenue.”

There is a good way to improve these speed cameras. As “The Georgia Virtue,” claims, “Municipalities are bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in some places and, oftentimes, having a minimal impact on speeders because the speeder does not receive the violation notice until several weeks after the alleged speeding incident occurred.” Having quicker notice of the event, and a chance to contest the ticket, would be an improvement. Therefore, much of the revenue should go to the courts to handle these cases. That would be fair to the motorists, as well as those who have to cover their paperwork from disputes.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. His views are his own, and do not speak for LaGrange College faculty, students, staff or administration. He can be reached at His Twitter account is JohnTures2.