A disturbing fad has taken hold at Thomas S. Wootton High School in Maryland. Students there are using automated traffic cameras to harass other students and adults by creating fake license plates and intentionally speeding through areas monitored by the cameras to generate tickets.
The students start by borrowing a car similar in make and model to the one their victim drives. They then use a font face similar to the one used on Maryland license plates and print the victim's real license plate number onto glossy photo paper. The photo is taped over the car's actual license plate and the perpetrators drive by the traffic cameras at high speeds.
The cameras that these students are abusing are located in residential and school zones where speeding has been a problem, creating a dangerous situation for residents. The targets of the scheme are faced with wrongful speeding tickets that are very difficult to overturn, and the students themselves risk stiff consequences if they are caught using fake license plates to implicate innocent people while driving recklessly.
The students think that this is all part of a game, but they are risking their own lives and the lives of others while jeopardizing their futures and causing real harm to their victims. It's only a matter of time before this game leads to tragedy.
The problem is not widespread, but could quickly become so as more municipalities adopt automated traffic cameras. Especially since the tools needed to fool the cameras are easily obtainable by students.
Parents and teachers can help by talking to their students about this game and letting them know how dangerous it is. Let them know what the penalties are for violating the applicable laws in your area. Encourage them to report this activity if they learn about it and to stop their friends from engaging in it for their own sake.