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Red light cameras don't work

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Not only do red light cameras not reduce traffic accidents, they actually increase the number and severity or crashes in an intersection.

This report from Ontario, Canada’s Ministry of Transportation’s concluded that jurisdictions using photo enforcement experienced an overall increase in property damage and fatal and injury rear-end collisions. The report also concludes that there was an overall reduction in serious accidents and angle collisions. However, a closer look at the data found in this government-sponsored report show that intersections monitored by cameras experienced, overall, a 2 percent increase in fatal and injury collisions compared to a decrease of 12.7 percent in the camera-free intersections that were used as a control group (page 21).

If they’re not solving issues, then why are they installed? To boost revenues to the local government, who collect an ever-increasing fine each time a camera fires.

A similar conflict of interest affects those entrusted with writing safety regulations for our traffic lights. The Institute of Transportation Engineers is actively involved in lobbying for, and even drafting legislation to implement, red light cameras. They are closely tied to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which in turn is funded by companies that stand to profit handsomely any time points are assessed to a driver’s license.

In short, the only documented benefit to red light cameras is to the pocketbook of local governments who use the devices to collect millions in revenue.

kc! Bradshaw
October 13, 2009 12:01 PM

$500 ticket from a red-light camera in San Francisco. Plus I have to go to traffic school and pay whatever fees they have on top of that. In my case, I did wrong and knew it. But many places have traffic cameras on confusing intersections with bad signage. Like Emeryville, CA. Terrible. Another case of bad city planning leading to more traffic infractions which are caused by confused drivers. Even in my case, I only ran the red light out of frustration that I had been the ONLY driver on the road and had been stopped for the last 10 blocks alone at red lights. Thank you for your post.

October 26, 2009 8:24 AM

I agree with your theories on red-light camera use (that they are used as revenue generators, not as the safety mechanisms touted to the citizens when they are installed), but I'd read that tickets from red light cameras do not put points on a person's driver's license. It's like the old Monty Python line ("We don't morally incense you, we just want the money."). So I don't see how it boosts insurance rates by use of points. Perhaps the insurance industry is working toward a keeping of red-light tickets from cameras as an additional way to boost one's rates?

Jon Amendall
October 27, 2009 3:45 AM

I have read what is said for the Ontario Study of Red Light Cameras and want to read the report in full. I have studied the problems of Road Safety and Road Use and can add the following comments without fear of contradiction: There are underlying causes of Road Traffic Accidents that fit the heading of Bad Engineering (report to the Minority Leader of the House of Congress and Professor Mondermans theory of Shared Space - AMA's comments on the subject do not show proof as these things do). Speed cameras do not prevent accidents - random events cannot be affected by external influences, nor can a single device change an underlying cause (as claimed by the UK Government and others). The US federal transport department's report in 2005 concluded that Red Light Cameras cause accidents as well as Ontarios and pre-dates it. The original Statistical Analysis of the effects of Red Light Cameras was carried out with one member of the team holding large amounts of stock in the Red Light Camera companies and subsequent work showed: the methods of analysis were faulty the conclusions were false reworking of the data properly contradicted the initial work in every area Recent re-working in the areas of study showed that Red Light Cameras cause accidents (see works done by universities in Texas and Florida) There are stand alone self-calibrating apparatuses that cannot continue with the precision claimed by their manufacturers as any computer programmer knows (fears raised about Gatso equipment in Australia after a massive failure of gantry equipment - roughly 30 000 000 dollars worth of refunds and court cases still being heard - put the company into Administration). Manufacturers testing of their equipment does not reach a standard that would be acceptable to a statistician as representing the population in general (Gatsometer BV's testing used one type of Ford car - a Mondeo as I am told) Will some-one please explain to me very carefully how any of these devices can continue to be used when the best level of error in North America is 11% and independent statistics are not available elsewhere - as a point of fact the Home Office in London told me that there are no centralised reports for traffic cameras in the UK when I asked last year. Road Transport Systems generally are a mess and I want to do the work to help to change this. Generally - nobody wants to know.

This discussion has been closed.

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