Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Red Light Cameras - A For-Profit Business

Michael Silence points to a report that the city of Morristown is fighting against proposed legislation from Rep. John Litz and Sen. Steve Southerland which would mandate statewide more time for a yellow light to last. The city is unhappy to see a challenge to their red light revenue cameras program, saying such a change would create massive traffic delays.

There are plenty of studies which note these revenue cameras often cause more accidents than they create safer driving. Mississippi has banned them statewide. Debate rages:

Red-light cameras may sound great on paper, but they're an idea whose time may never come. There's no room in the system for manual inspection (the automation is what keeps it cheap), the officials in charge of the program inevitably come under pressure to milk this marvelous cash cow they've discovered, and the cameras are easily spoofed or sometimes just plain wrong."

Since the effort to ticket drivers who run red lights has been a low priority for law enforcement for a variety of reasons, the reality sinks in that cities are in essence sub-contracting law enforcement out to for-profit companies.

Safety and traffic flow is certainly a concern for cities, but revenue cameras are not the way:

If intersection controls are properly engineered, installed, and operated, there will be very few red-light violations. From the motorists' perspective, government funds should be used on improving intersections, not on ticket cameras. Even in instances where cameras were shown to decrease certain types of accidents, they increased other accidents. Simple intersection and signal improvements can have lasting positive effects, without negative consequences. Cities can choose to make intersections safer with sound traffic engineering or make money with ticket cameras. Unfortunately, many pick money over safety."


  1. Anonymous11:33 PM

    where you always screw up is talking about news.

    look at your first paragraph. look at the last and tell us if there is a logical inconsistency.

    talk about horror movies you intend to write. talk about star wars. leave the news alone, joey.

  2. Joe, glad to see you talking about this. The anger over the cameras is one of the few things I've seen the citizenry of Morristown agree on. With the exception of our leaders at City Hall, that is.

  3. Anon - no one but you is conflictedm honey.

    pmm - are they angry enough to actually do anything?