Revenue quest, not safety, behind red light cameras

This article came out about how Kansas City is installing red light cameras.

Highlighted quotes: 

In fact, when red-light cameras popped onto the public agenda in 2006, then-Mayor Kay Barnes said the city should consider them because they would bring in more money.

Yep, revenue, not safety.

Public Works spokesman Dennis Gagnon says each intersection must be cleared of any hazard or impediment that might increase red-light running.

Synchronization of nearby stoplights must be improved. Obstructing trees must be trimmed. Yellow-light intervals must be appropriate. Drivers will be warned when they approach a camera-equipped intersection.

If safety is the true concern, why didn’t they take these safety measures BEFORE deciding to install cameras? If all of those measures lead to a safer intersection, why wait until you install cameras to do them?

All well and good, but the argument that red-light cameras are about safety is questionable from the start. A study by the Federal Highway Administration concluded that while red-lights cameras reduced right-angle collisions, they led to an increase in rear-end crashes: Some motorists tend to slam on the brakes when approaching a camera-equipped intersection.

Yep, MORE accidents, not less.  Safety? Or revenue?

According to a paper published by the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, an increase in yellow-light time by only one second can reduce accidents by up to 40 percent.

The authors, George Shifflett and Justin Owen, report that a one-second boost in yellow-light time in Mesa, Ariz., cut accidents by 73 percent. Similar decreases were experienced in Fort Collins, Colo.

Virginia reported a 94 percent decrease in citations after a 1.5-second increase in yellow-light time. The state terminated the use of its red-light cameras, but re-introduced them in 2007.

Wow – if you can increase safety by increasing yellow light times without installing cameras and punishing people, wouldn’t that be the way to go? Safety through engineering, not safety through revenue?


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