Monday, March 19, 2007

The Failure of Traffic Cameras

Driving under watchful camera eyes has provided government with endless supplies of cash and those ticketed have little ability to challenge the charge. And that is bringing lawsuits and challenges that due process is being ignored.

Ohio and Minnesota are just two states whose court's are reviewing the use of such cameras. Claims are often made that the presence of the camera is enough to warrant their use. But what of the right of one accused to face their accuser in court? And once courts hold the tickets issued via camera technology illegal, how will they refund the money seized from fines?

I had read recently of several studies which showed that a much greater effectiveness of reducing accidents at intersections is achieved with two simple acts: clearer markings at intersections and longer times for a yellow light. A Popular Mechanics article by Glenn Reynolds mentions those studies:

But if the emphasis is on safety--rather than on revenue--there are better ways of dealing with the problem. A recent study done by the University of Central Florida for the Florida Department of Transportation found that improving intersection markings in a driving simulator reduced red-light running by 74 percent without increasing the number of rear-end collisions. Likewise, a Texas Transportation Institute study found that lengthening yellow-light times cut down dramatically on red-light running. It also found that most traffic-camera violations occurred within the first second after the light turned red (the average was just one-half second after the light change), while most T-bone collisions occurred 5 or more seconds after the light change. If there's a problem, cameras aren't really addressing it."

BUt it seems evident that given the option of simple engineering changes or of just taking money, it's all about the money.

UPDATE: There was a massive response to the issue of cameras and traffic lights at KnoxViews which is well worth the read. Just wish I had read if before I posted my views about cameras and traffic lights today.


  1. Don't worry about duplication of efforts; not enough can be said about this issue.

    We do indeed live in an age of cynical, profit-centered decision making in which the sacrifice of life and limb are mere consequences of what is to be gained.

  2. Due process, smosess. That was old America where freedom and liberty were respected and valued. Have you not seen the signs? You must not support the troops or you would be willing to pay the lemon squeezing fees. Don't ask questions the bosses will let you know when they want to hear from you. After all they are protecting us from the boogie man dontchaknow!

  3. Joe, Mack here. When you get a moment, will you visit my site and find the contact info? I cannot locate an email for you, and I was hoping to talk a little.

  4. Mack -

    i see no link to your site! however, when i changed over to this Blogger 2.0 is left out my email, but I have fixed that now. just click on my profile view and the email address is there.

  5. If this is generating such good revenue for K-town,how long willit be before Morristown dips into these waters?