Monday, August 13, 2007

1,2,3,... Redlight

JP will soon be installing redlight cameras to increase revenue, er..., decrease accidents at intersections in the parish. The cameras will be installed by RedFlex Traffic Solutions at no cost to the parish. A map of the planned locations can be found here.
The ACLU tried to get on the parish agenda to speak out against the cameras, but were denied time to speak. They argue that even though the tickets issued by the cameras will be civil rather than criminal, they are still illegal. Readers take note, I am with the ACLU 100% on this. This is the type of thing they should be working on, not pretending to be amateur art critics.

The evidence that redlight cameras reduce accidents is weak. Here are the results of several studies from here. Here are a few of the studies listed:

A 2005 Virginia DOT study found:
"The cameras are correlated with an increase in total crashes of 8% to 17%."

A 2006 Winnipeg, Canada city audit found:
"The graph shows an increase of 58% in the number of traffic collisions from 2003 to 2004.... Contrary to long-term expectations, the chart shows an increase in claims at each level of damage with the largest percentage increase appearing at the highest dollar value."

A 2004 North Carolina A&T University study found:
"Our findings are more pessimistic, finding no change in angle accidents and large increases in rear-end crashes and many other types of crashes relative to other intersections."

Other than being illegal (according to the ACLU) and probably increasing the number of accidents, I have several more objections.

1. The owner of the car will be ticketed, not the driver.

2. Do you get a ticket if you move through an intersection to make room for police, fire, or ems?

3. If this is being done to improve safety, why is the data not being reported to the insurance companies?

This whole thing is just a money grab. The number of tickets written is down since the hurricane and the JP police dept. is looking for a way to increase revenue. Shame on the council for rubber stamping this crap. The inevitable lawsuits will end up costing the parish money, just like the State had to pay up for the obviously unconstitutional ban on video games.

If the parish wants to increase safety, reduce accidents, and reduce citations (all of which would reduce insurance rates), increasing the length of yellow lights is a simple and inexpensive solution.

A 2004 Texas Transportation Institute study found:
"An increase in yellow duration of 1.0 seconds is associated with a [crash frequency] of about 0.6, which corresponds to a 40 percent reduction in crashes."

There have been instance where yellow light times have been reduced to generate more tickets.
A 2001 report by the Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives found:
"The changes in the yellow signal timing regulations have resulted in the inadequate yellow times. And these inadequate yellow times are the likely cause of almost 80 percent of red light entries."

I plan on going to several of these intersections in the next several days and filming several light cycles at each. After the cameras are installed (supposed to be finished by early September), I will return and see how the yellow light times fared.


Anonymous said...

You might want to read up on ABQ NM where accidents across the city dropped 8% the first year after photo enforcement. Or Prescott Valley AZ that went from 600 violations a month to only 25 a month in just 6 months.
How about how the data was released to the insurance industry at their request lowering the insurance rates in ABQ NM after cameras were installed?
And no, you dont get a ticket for moving out of the way for EMS.

The German said...

Thanks, for the comment.

I'm sure these cameras have reduced accidents in some placed, but I they are equally likely to increase them.

I still think the best approach is to lengthen the yellow light. If that does not incur positive results, then you can try other options, like cameras.

Jonathan said...

whats the ban on video games? should i riot or light a car on fire?