Traffic Cam Backfire

The pathway to hell is paved with good intentions.

Surveillance cameras designed to catch red light runners have a significant back-fire effect: Driver fear of getting tickets by racing through the yellow causes more people to slam on their brakes at the last minute. Result: More traffic accidents overall, not fewer. Popular Mechanics:

Likewise, red-light cameras in Portland, Ore., produced a 140 percent increase in rear-end collisions at monitored intersections, and a study by the Virginia Transportation Research Council found that although red-light cameras decreased collisions resulting from people running traffic lights, they significantly increased accidents overall.

It gets better: Because traffic light surveillance is a huge revenue opportunity for cities ($32 million in revenues for Washington DC alone), and because people tend to have more violations when yellow lights are shorter, there is suddenly a financial incentive to decrease the yellow light duration. City planners tempted with Faustian deal: More revenue at the expense of more accidents. What red-blooded mayor could resist? One Maryland area apparently saw yellow light durations in one area drop from 4 to 2.7 seconds after installing light surveillance. Imagine that.

Music: The Replacements :: Skyway

3 Replies to “Traffic Cam Backfire”

  1. Hey, it makes opportunities all around. The next folks for whom this will be a blessing are lawyers suing cities.

  2. It’s an evolutionary step.
    Those who drive carefully and Legally don’t crash while those who are speeding, driving unroadworthy vehicles or not concentrating crash.

    It is not a Right that someone is able to drive on public roads, it is a Privilege. The more people loose their licences or crash their cars because they aren’t driving safely, the better.

  3. Daniel, I mostly agree, but unfortunately, when you slam on the brakes, you may endanger / crash the car of the person behind you. Not an easy problem to solve.

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