from an expert in the field:
anne mcCartt is the senior vice president for research at the
Insurance Institute for Highway safety (
JuLY debate resuLts:
Should it be
harder to filibuster?
Speeding and red-light running are common factors in serious motor vehicle crashes. photo enforcement is an effective tool in reducing risky and aggressive driving. it reduces violations, prevents crashes and saves lives. the use of cameras to enforce traffic laws is not new. the most com- mon applications—speed cameras and red-light cameras—have been used for years in Canada, australia and a number of european countries. police have turned to technology because traditional enforcement alone is not enough to curb violations. there are only so many officers on patrol. even on dedicated patrols, each officer is likely to observe and ticket only a handful of violators. the main limitation of tra- ditional enforcement is manpower. this is where cameras come in. they can be placed in many locations, enforce the law around the clock and ticket virtually every offender. research by traffic-safety experts and government agencies around the world demon- strates the benefits. an insurance institute of highway Safety review of red-light-camera studies, for example, concludes that cameras reduce red-light violations by as much as half and reduce injury crashes by 25 to 30 percent. a downside is that rear-end fender benders may increase with red-light cameras, but his is not surprising. the more people stop on red, the more rear-end collisions there will be if the motorists behind them are following too closely or not paying attention. Yet, the body of evidence shows that red-light cameras significantly reduce overall crashes, especially those involving injury. Some argue that increased yellow-light timing is the answer to red-light running. While adequate yellow-light timing is important, longer yellow lights alone do not eliminate the need or potential benefits of red-light cameras. in one institute study in philadelphia, increased yellow-light timing reduced red-light-running violations by a third, but the addi- tion of camera enforcement further reduced red-light running by 96 percent. the goal of camera programs—whether to enforce speed limits or reduce red-light run- ning—is deterrence. When drivers know that a ticket is virtually assured, they are less likely to break the law and the roads are safer. C
Percentage reflects votes
received by July 16, 2010.
June debate resuLts:
Should wild animals be used
for our entertainment?
Yes: 17% no: 83%
Percentage reflects votes received by
june 30, 2010. Results may reflect
debate being picked up by blogs.
from an expert in the field:
James baxter is president of the national motorists association
automated tiCket CameraS beg several questions: if the public is unanimous in its belief that traffic signals should be obeyed, why do tens of thousands of violations occur daily? if the same drivers rigorously obey traffic signals a, B and C, why do they flagrantly violate traffic signal d? if 90 percent of the vehicles on a given road are traveling safely at 45 mph, why is the speed limit set at 25 mph? Should a photo issued by a for-profit corporation, on behalf of a revenue-strapped municipality, be accepted as unequivocal proof of a traffic violation? When ticket cameras are used in place of effective engi- neering techniques, is the motivation really about safety? With few exceptions, such as driver impairment and high-speed chases, red-light violations are not a product of wanton driver behavior. any intersection with high violation rates suffers from either poor design or incompetent management and operation. the most common prob- lems include yellow-light intervals that are too short, improperly synchronized signals, and poorly placed and maintained signals. if these deficiencies are corrected, violations evaporate and accidents decline. if, instead, ticket cameras are employed, violations do go down, to some degree, but accidents increase. also, there is no legitimate evidence that supports the claim that icket cameras reduce right-angle crashes. if speed limits are set to accommodate safe and prudent traffic flow, there is no need for intense speed enforcement or ticket cameras. Further, ticket cameras do not stop truly reckless, impaired or inconsiderate drivers; they may not even issue a ticket! to make ticket cameras
profitable (if they aren’t profitable they’re removed) the speed limit must be far below the prevailing speed of existing traffic, thus creating numerous violators. this causes erratic traffic flow
and more accidents.
When communities implement engineering-based standards—e.g., longer yellow-light
intervals or proper speed limits—the cameras become unprofitable. the response has been to
remove the cameras or focus on other violations, such as not coming to a complete stop when
making a right turn on a red, a violation that barely registers in accident statistics ( 2,000 crashes
out of 6 million), yet, in some cities, constitutes 80 to 90 percent of the camera citations.
Clearly, ticket cameras are not about safety. Just follow the money. C
august 2010 The Costco Connection 17
opinions expressed are those of the individuals
or organizations represented and are presented
to foster discussion. costco and The Costco
Connection take no position on any debate topic.