Caltrans has just put in a live-streaming camera at the Las Positas Road exit on Highway 101 in Santa Barbra. The camera will be convenient for people trying to gauge traffic conditions heading south but it also raises questions about privacy.
Jim Shivers a spokes person for Caltrans said the cameras are to help plan a commute or a road trip.
“(The cameras are) a tool for the public,” he said. “They can look at it from their home and see what traffic conditions are.”
The new camera is one of more than a thousand that have been placed on Californian highways. Not all of the cameras can be seen by the public, which raises the question of what are the other cameras for?
In New York, drivers using the toll roads can get an E-ZPass so they don’t have to throw coins into a basket. However, if they are too through the tolls they can be issued a citation.
Could something similar be used with these live traffic cameras? For instance a computer program could read license plates from the camera at the Broad Street exit in San Luis Obispo and then read again at the new camera in Santa Barbara and if the time it takes to get between them exceeds the speed limit a ticket could be issued.
Shivers said that Caltrans does not record what goes on and does not work with law enforcement. He did say that cities and counties could do this to catch people who go through red lights or other moving violations.
This doesn’t mean that Caltrans couldn’t implement a system to do this in the future and with the current financial crisis the state could use all the money it gets from tickets.