As many as 700 communities, with a combined total of more than 60 million people, outsource their street and highway camera systems, the report found.
While vendors capture violations, police or other local officials approve which violations are issued tickets. Some contracts penalize cities if they don't approve enough tickets, effectively setting a ticket quota, the report said. That can undermine the authority of local officials to decide when to issue tickets, it said.
"Automated traffic ticketing tends to be governed by contracts that focus more on profits than safety," said Phineas Baxandall, the report's co-author.
Baxandall acknowledged that cash-strapped communities have a financial incentive to maximize the number of citations they issue even when they don't use a vendor. But local governments are also accountable to voters, whereas private vendors aren't, he said...