This is a follow up to the post from a few days about about the Arizona Republic article that boasted a 16% reduction in crashes since the camera program started. While the number is accurate, it hides a sordid truth about the composition of those numbers. Here is the data from a report I requested from the City of Tempe Police:
961 = Traffic Accident
962 = Traffic Accident with Injuries
963 = Traffic Accident with Fatalities
H = Hit and Run
For the purposes of discussion, I combined the hit and run and non-hit and run figures for each call type.
What the media DIDN’T tell you is that injury crashes decreased only 1.84% and fatality crashes increased 43%! When you think about safety, you think about injuries and fatalities. The cameras were supposed to increase safety, but yet again, we have evidence that cameras make the roads MORE DANGEROUS.
As mentioned in the previous posts, this data is hardly conclusive as it does not consider changes in police presence and enforcement methods, changes in laws (such as DUI laws), changes in traffic volumes, national safety trends/increasingly safer cars, and we lack data for prior years. I can only speculate because I don’t have figures, but if we assume everything stayed about the same with the exception of DUI laws which did become much stricter in 2008 and traffic volumes which we assume decreased due to the recession and high fuel prices, then we should naturally expect a decrease in accidents due to factors OTHER than cameras. With this consideration, it should be alarming to city officials that there was only a slight (1.84%) reduction in injuries and a dramatic increase in fatalities. I think it’s easy and reasonable to speculate that injuries and fatalities would have increased had it not been for stricter DUI laws and lower traffic.
I’d encourage everyone to write the article author at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask her why she didn’t report the full story.