Search This Blog

Sunday, February 28

RED LIGHT CAMERAS DON'T WORK (unless of course you are trying to make a buck)

by Blondesense Liz

Yesterday I was traveling down a street at 40MPH, the posted speed limit. The light turned yellow when I was too close to the intersection to safely slam on my brakes because there were cars behind me. I decided that I must cross the intersection to avoid a rear end collision. It was an especially wide intersection and I noticed that the light turned red when I was in the middle of the intersection and there were several cars going through the intersection with me at the same time. I thought to myself that the yellow light obviously was not long enough there. I am not sure if there were big brother cameras at the intersection but if there were, I suppose I'll be getting a ticket in the mail. If I had slammed on my brakes though, I'd probably have been hit by the motorist behind me. Decisions, decisions. Body shop or Hospital?

This got me thinking about red light cameras at intersections... I had a feeling that they are making us less safe.

I did a little investigating via google this morning. Here's what I've learned so far.


Experts who actually give a shit about public safety assert that if a municipality wants to reduce the number of accidents in their community, the cheapest and most effective way is to lengthen the yellow lights. The problem is that people don't get rich when America is run safely. Municipalities want to make money so many install red light cameras in order to catch taxpayers running red lights. It sounds good on paper, sort of.... but this type of story was in a lot of newspapers: Cities Caught Illegally Tampering With Traffic Lights To Increase Revenue Of Red Light Cameras.


From Shorter yellow lights boost red-light camera revenue we learn that red light running which causes broadside accidents occurs when the offending vehicle has entered the intersection 3 seconds or more after the light turns red. So those are the people you want to charge with endangering public safety. People stopped at a red light are not going to proceed when it's green if there are still cars in the intersection... but if someone is barreling along and enters the intersection after the light has already turned red, you run into some problems.


I found this study done by Rep. Dick Armey, Majority Leader in 2001 and it confirms my fears of what is going on around here and you simply must read the whole thing The Red Light Running Crisis Is it Intentional? PDF

The study determined that in those municipalities where the yellow light times were extended, there was remarkable reduction in red light jumpers and less accidents! Unfortunately that doesn't make money for municipalities and insurance companies. Hmm. Does anyone really care about traffic safety or do they care about profit? Don't answer that.

The study confirmed my fears that having red light cameras at intersections actually causes more accidents because people have to slam on their brakes causing rear end collisions.


Before the advent of red light cameras, actual trained engineers were required to study the traffic in an intersection and increase the time of yellow lights. Since red light cameras have been invented and utilized, engineers do NOT study traffic patterns in order to increase safety at an intersection at all! Engineers are told to “use enforcement” instead. Dick Armey's study confirmed that some municipalities have shortened the yellow light times so that they could snag more motorists!

Oh really?


(From Dick Armey's study) Every study claiming red light cameras increase safety is written by the same man. Before joining the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), he was a top transportation official in New York City at the time the city began looking into becoming the first jurisdiction in the country to install red light cameras. In other words, the father of the red light camera in America is the same individual offering the “objective” testimony that they are effective.

A similar conflict of interest affects those entrusted with writing safety regulationsfor 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.

We traded away our privacy for this. We gave up our constitutional protections for this. In return, we are less safe. That is the red light camera scam, and it has gone on for far too long.
If you read the extensive study, you will see how and why red light cameras and big brother is being used to scam the American people. So I did some more research to see if the abuses had stopped since 2001. Nope. Seems that too many people and companies are profiting from your being caught in an intersection when the light turns red because the yellow light is too short.


“Rather than improving motorist safety, red-light cameras significantly increase crashes and are a ticket to higher auto insurance premiums, researchers at the University of South Florida College of Public Health conclude.”

Insurance companies benefit from your crashing into the scaredy cat who slammed on her brakes when the light turned yellow. The only studies that show red light cameras work are those funded by for profit insurance companies! More at Red-Light Cameras Just Don’t Work

Why does that not surprise me? How do they get away with this... oh yeah, that's right... we learned from the healthcare debate that insurance company lobbyists visit our elected officials 7-8 times a day.


Camera companies get a cut from every violation that is paid
The largest red-light camera company, Redflex Traffic Systems of Scottsdale, operates red-light or speed cameras in 22 states, and added 79 cities last year. It signed a $32 million maintenance contract with Chicago last fall, and in just the last three weeks of last year, Redflex added five new cities.

Redflex saw net, after-tax profits of $10.6 million in fiscal year 2008, up from $7.3 million the year before.

That ticket in Clive shows why: More than half of the $75 fine went to Redflex.

Not only is that a slap in our collective faces, camera company employees are the ones who determine if a crime has been committed in an intersection.


In happier news however, this story from a few days ago Red Light Camera Giant Redflex Loses $8 Million From Opposition
Largest photo enforcement vendor reports that opposition groups have cut into company profits.

The number one speed camera and red light camera operator in the US today reported that its profits plunged by 32 percent in the first half of fiscal 2010, due in large measure to rising public discontent with automated enforcement. Redflex Traffic Systems told Australian shareholders that after adjusting for exchange rates, the company lost A$8 million, primarily as a result of citizen activists taking action against photo enforcement.

“The business, particularly in the US, has become more difficult over recent years, and the results reflect the influence of a range of adverse issues and circumstances on the business, including… the rise of opposition from various groups opposed to photo enforcement, resulting in challenges to programs through citizen initiated referenda,” a company statement explained. “A state wide ballot initiative [in Arizona] could result in negative impact.”

Well that's good news. I think the American people are going to have to take time from their busy schedules and fight these tickets. There is lots of information here at Help! I got a ticket.
I plan to get busy in my county and do some investigating. I want to find out how much this project cost to implement, if the camera company gets a cut from fines paid, who inspects the violations, when was the last time engineers checked the yellow light times at intersections, have accident rates lessened where there are cameras, is it legal in NYS to not warn motorists that there are cameras at an upcoming intersection, etc etc. Should be very enlightening.

No comments: