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Anti-speeding cameras spark rage, revolt in Hawaii

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HONOLULU — Bumper stickers here shout the slogan "Slow down! This ain't the Mainland!" But drivers are now in open revolt over a program forcing them to drive more slowly.

This month, the state began using digital cameras — operated from unmarked vans and mounted near intersections — to catch drivers who speed and run red lights on selected state roads and highways.

The response has been swift. Rebellious drivers have snapped up several thousand license covers that illegally obscure plates, owners of automobile-accessory shops say. They have sent letters to the local papers urging people not to pay their tickets. Cell-phone brigades call morning radio shows to relay the vans' locations, and reports abound of drivers hurling obscene gestures, insults and even trash at the vans.

Some officials are even saying that the program may be working too well. "People are now driving too slow," said Carol Costa, a spokeswoman for Honolulu "They're driving in packs so their plates can't be seen by the cameras. There are people who speed around the packs of cars. And the vans, of course, themselves are being targeted by drivers."

The effort has ignited such rage that some lawmakers are considering repealing it, and the city and county of Honolulu have bowed out of the anti-speeding part of the program, saying it makes people drive erratically.

In one respect, though, the program is a clear success. In its first eight days, it produced nearly 1,300 traffic citations.