Sunday, November 21, 2010

Red Light Cameras

Red light camera system at the Springfield, Oh...Image via WikipediaThis morning was a reminder of why I do not like red light cameras at intersections.  I was heading home from the grocery store when I was coming up to an intersection that has a red light camera.  As I approached, the light turned from green to yellow.  I was fairly close to the intersection, and had I maintained my speed would have easily made it through the intersection before the light turned red.  However, I had the camera in the back of my mind, so I hit the breaks.  I had to hit the breaks fairly firmly to stop before the intersection and an item sitting on the passenger seat flew to the floor of the car.

Thankfully, it was fairly early on a Sunday and the road was fairly empty.  Had there been another driver following closely behind me, they may have felt that they could have made it through the intersection before the light turned red.  The result of which would have been a rear end collision, and therein lies my issue with red light cameras.  Drivers that are aware of the red light cameras may be more prone to break suddenly when they could have easily and safely navigated the intersection, increasing the likelihood of a rear end collision.

Jurisdictions claim that the purpose of the cameras is for safety and not revenue.  The National Motorists Association has maintained the opposite.  Their feeling is that the red light cameras are more likely to increase accidents rather than reduce them.  In January 2008, they released a blog post with links to five different studies that showed that red light cameras increased accidents. Earlier this year, the city of West Palm Beach installed red light cameras.  In the first 70 days, rear end collisions more than doubled and overall accidents increased.

I have never gotten a ticket from a red light camera, nor a speed camera for that matter.  Nor have I been involved in an accident at an intersection with a camera.  So, I am not taking this position because I am bitter about getting a fine, or worse yet, about being in an accident.  There is probably a benefit in reducing right angle collisions, but if studies show overall accidents increase, then the cameras may cause more harm than good.  That is, if safety is the goal, but if the goal is revenue, then mission accomplished. 
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5 comments:

  1. The red light camera's do the same funtion that a Cop on patrol would issue a ticket.Cheaper to have a camera that a cop.same result thought a ticket.

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  2. The problem is that it is actually not safer having a red light camera. Accidents increase. I would hazard to guess that when cops are around, people are more careful

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  3. I may be woefully mistaken, but from the way it was explained on a local news broadcast after they installed red-light cameras here, tickets are only issued to those who enter an intersection AFTER the light turns red. Therefore, any car entering an intersection while the light is yellow would not be ticketed. Subsequently, I changed my attitude towards the cameras. For anyone who runs a red-light should get ticket--depending upon the circumstances, of course.

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  4. thanks for sharing your knowledge. good day!

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  5. that is true, Fish, but the problem comes when the driver in front decides to stop quickly, and the driver in back thinks they can make it and speeds up. I don't dispute that those who run the red light don't deserve a ticket. They do. It is the increased incidents of accidents that I have the problem with.

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