From the Brainroom: Traffic Cameras

Once a rarity, traffic cameras are filming away across the country.

Cameras are not just focusing on red-light runners.

New technology: Cameras monitor highways to catch speeders in the act.

New technology: Cameras have infrared license-plate readers that nab ticket and tax scofflaws.

Drivers: Accusing law enforcement of using spy tactics to trap unsuspecting citizens.

Drivers: Fighting back with everything from pick axes to camera-blocking Santa Clauses.

Drivers: Using sprays to blur license numbers and Web sites that plot the cameras' locations and offer tips to beat them.

Cities and states say the devices can improve safety and bring in revenue in tight times.

Critics: Cameras actually lead to more rear-end accidents because drivers often slam their brakes when they see signs warning them of cameras in the area.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: End of last year 345 jurisdictions were using red-light cameras, up from 243 in 2007 and 155 in 2006.

Camera Suppliers: Estimate over 3,000 red-light and speed cameras are in operation in the U.S. up from about 2,500 a year ago.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Study of crash causes released July 2008 found about 5% of crashes were due to traveling too fast and 2% were from running red lights.

Driving off the side of the road, falling asleep at the wheel and crossing the center lines were the biggest causes identified.

Source: WSJ, Get the Feeling You're Being Watched? If You're Driving, You Just Might Be, 3/27/09,