Yet Another Study Shows That Redlight Cameras Increase Accidents

from the what-problem-are-they-solving? dept

This certainly isn't the first time, as we've seen plenty of similar reports in the past, but yet another study is showing that red light cameras tend to increase the number of accidents. The majority, of course, of these accidents are rear-end collisions, often caused by people slamming on the brakes at the last minute to avoid running the light. Of course, the cameras did generate a ton of extra revenue for the city as well -- which is where the real issue comes in. Is the purpose of these cameras to make driving safer, or to raise local revenue? If it's to make driving safer, it seems like this could more easily be accomplished by extending the length of the yellow, and also leaving an extra second or so where all directions have a red light, rather than immediately switching cross traffic to green. Unfortunately, these days, it seems more likely that these cameras are much more about the revenue -- even though they'll be defended by using the claim of safety reasons.


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 1:59pm

    If intersections with cameras are leading to more rear-end accidents it seems likely to assume that this is because _the actual law (like, "don't run a red light you fuckwit") is being enforced_ and then we need to ask why this enforcement is a bad thing?

    The person stopping and the person who runs into the stopped car both saw the light. Just because you think the person in front of you should run the red doesn't mean they are obligated to do so. If you are following so closely that you can't stop for someone who is stopping for a red light then you were following too closely for the speed at which you are travelling and you are at fault for the accident. The camera did not cause the accident, you did.

    In short, this is not about red light cameras actually increasing accident rates, but that intersections where traffic laws are being enforced are leading to an increased rate of accidents caused by bad drivers.

    Sounds like a win-win situation to me...

     

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    traffic_engineer, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 2:06pm

    Increase in wrecks

    It is not really much of a debate that red-light camera's cause more rear end wrecks, but they decrease the number of side impact wrecks which are much more likeyly to end up in death and expensive repairs. The implementing of red-light camera's are also economically examined by traffic engineers before they are implemented and they have been found to cost the public less overall. Also the fines usually don't even amount to enough money to pay the cost of the system and maintenance.

    So if you like more death on the roads and increased property damage then get rid of red light cameras.

     

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    Mike (profile), Apr 5th, 2006 @ 2:07pm

    Re:

    If intersections with cameras are leading to more rear-end accidents it seems likely to assume that this is because _the actual law (like, "don't run a red light you fuckwit") is being enforced_ and then we need to ask why this enforcement is a bad thing?

    That misses the point. Which is more important? Enforcing the law or making the situation safer.

    The entire point of the law is for safety, so I would assume that making the situation should be the priority.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 2:14pm

    People tend to push the limits of what they can get away with. If yellow lights are extended, drivers will start treating them as an extension to green - and that defeats their usefulness.

    In 10 years of driving, I have never (in normal weather conditions) had to slam on the breaks to stop at a red light. The people who do this are probably distracted (cell phones!) or exceeding the speed limit.

    I don't doubt that revenue is "driving" the installation of these cameras, but I seriously doubt they are causing wreaks for otherwise careful drivers.

     

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    dani, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 2:21pm

     

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    emichan, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 2:26pm

    The point of the traffic law in general seems to be more geared towards revenue-generation than safety.

    It certainly seems, from my personal experience anyway, that traffic law enforcement only improves safety where it is seen to be enforced, i.e. everyone slows down when they see a cop on the side of the road, but they speed back up once they get down the road.

    I can't help but wonder if it wouldn't be better to rethink our whole system. Why aren't we fixing the root causes of unsafe roadways? We should focus more on safe driver training, and making it much more difficult to qualify for a driver's license.

    If we start out with safer drivers, our roads will naturally be safer without the need for more rigorous enforcement or silly "mommy says wear your seat belt or no dessert" laws.

     

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    Keith, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 2:40pm

    Cameras the cause or shortened yellow lights?

    Is the real cause the camera, or that the yellow times were shortened: from: http://www.thenewspaper.com/rlc/reports/rlcreport.asp "But why have so many people become wanton red light runners all of a sudden? The answer seems to be that changes made to accommodate camera enforcement have produced yellow light times that, in many cases, are shortened to the point that they are inadequate. And when people come upon an intersection with inadequate yellow time, they are faced with the choice either of stopping abruptly on yellow (risking a rear end accident) or accelerating. The options for those confronting such circumstances are limited and unsafe. But each time a driver faces this dilemma, government increases its odds for hitting the jackpot. "

     

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    Gomorrah, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 2:42pm

    Red Light

    I have never had a problem with the cameras. I wonder if any of you even know what the safe driving distance is for a car in front of you. We have them here in Texas, and I have seen no problems with them, except for people who are being stupid.

     

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    Preston Flesh, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 2:46pm

    So many law abiding citizens! Wow!

    So the next step is to enforce the speed limit with similar technology and a zero tolerance policy. None of you flag-waving law lovers speed........ not a one.

    Oh, and mandatory tax audits for EVERYONE!

    Suckers.

     

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    Dennis Morgan, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Red lights and rear-end collisions

    In my experience with city driving the biggest reason for rear end mishaps is following to close and if you try to leave yourself room for a reasonable reaction space someone will think its just enough room for them to change lanes and gain a car length on the lane they just left. I don't know the answer.

     

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    ZOMG CENSORED, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 2:47pm

    Yellow != Speed Up

    Some people don't understand what yellow/ amber lights are for. It's not a signal to speed up and avoid the light, but to slow down because the red light is coming. People are just too stupid to figure it out...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 2:55pm

    BTW, the devices used to slow or stop a vehicle are called "brakes," not "breaks"...

     

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    MikeP, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 2:58pm

    I agree with Emichan when he said the key is safer drivers and harder qualifications for getting a license.

    Above and beyond that, I think there should be much stiffer penalties for traffic infractions due to the safety issue.

    If it cost 3 times as much to get a speeding ticket, people would slow the hell down. Also, people's licenses should get suspended until they pay the ticket. In addition, if we didn't let repeat DUI and DWI offenders back on the road so quick that would help a lot.

    We have a huge infrastructure in place for mass transit. Buses, trains, subways etc. It wouldn't hurt to keep unsafe drivers off the road for longer lengths of time while they save their lunch money to pay off a ticket.

     

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    Faz, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 3:09pm

    Put a count down timer on amber to show seconds left to red is the answer

     

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    justkimberly, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 3:14pm

    Re:

    Anonymous Coward said:

    >>In 10 years of driving, I have never (in normal weather conditions) had to slam on the breaks to stop at a red light. The people who do this are probably distracted (cell phones!) or exceeding the speed limit.
    Then you have gotten lucky! I am a VERY safe driver, always try to maintain safe driving distance, and that is DARN hard in Atlanta! But I have been places where I know the light to yellow was too fast and I have had to slam.

    So, quit generalizing please. The original author had valid points. I am in GA now, and the best way to avoid those Red Light rear-enders is like we do up North, have WARNING lights quite a bit back alerting drivers that the next light is either Red, or will be Red when you get to it, so you can start slowing down. They have no such warnings on the roads I travel here, and some are 55mph roads! So, I know when to be weary and when the next light comes, but someone from out of town might not. And I don't care how much you pay attention, if you don't know a light is coming up, especially on a curvy road, and you are going 55mph, the only way to avoid passing through a red at a certain point is slamming.

    Perhaps you have been protected in your driving communities, but come to the big cities and then spout your generalizations.

     

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    justkimberly, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 3:16pm

    Re:

     

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    justkimberly, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 3:18pm

    Re:

    emichan said:

    >>We should focus more on safe driver training, and making it much more difficult to qualify for a driver's license.

    If we start out with safer drivers, our roads will naturally be safer without the need for more rigorous enforcement or silly "mommy says wear your seat belt or no dessert" laws.
    You got that right! But with all of those safe drivers on the road, obeying the laws, how would they generate money?

    I was flabberghasted to learn when I moved to Atlanta that drivers here not only don't have to take a road test to get their driver's license, they don't have to take driver's education in high school. Yet, they insist those drivers from states that do require such are the ones who cause the problems on the roads down here. Go figure.

     

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    WhoNu, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 3:21pm

    Ban em all

    WhoNu has a special hand signal for those traffic cameras...

     

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    Speedy_Delivery, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 3:23pm

    Re: Cameras at intersections.

    While some people in our society are very intelligent and 100% law abiding, people as a whole, are pretty dumb. So, it doesnt matter who's fault it was, who was following too closely, or whatever.

    The law has to consider that as a whole, people will do dumb things. Either it considers how to make things safer for these dumb people, or how to make more money off of them.

    The law generally doesn't do both.

     

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    justkimberly, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 3:24pm

    Re: Re: Red lights and rear-end collisions

    Dennis Morgan said:

    >>In my experience with city driving the biggest reason for rear end mishaps is following to close and if you try to leave yourself room for a reasonable reaction space someone will think its just enough room for them to change lanes and gain a car length on the lane they just left. I don't know the answer.
    Isn't that the truth! I hate when people get in my safe driving distance, and here in Atlanta, it is almost impossible to drive that way on the highways, which is why I A.) avoid the highways at all costs and B.) Avoid the highways at all cost especially during the day!

    And then when someone does cut into your safe driving distance, and you try to back off to regain it, you can't because of the idiot behind you!

    I really think part of the answer is for police to aggressively go after the unsafe drivers, not the speeders. Come on really, if the traffic is not heavy, and someone wants to go a little faster in the fast lane, so what. I would rather they go after those who zig zag in and out of traffic, and tailgate. Truth is, if the speeder cause an accident, he is likely going to be in it, but that zigzagger will long be gone when the accident happens.

    This coming from someone who was driving a 92 saturn sedan and got rear-ended by a Ford excusion driving WAY too close, totalling the saturn and giving me 2 years of agonizing pain

     

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    Posterlogo, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 3:31pm

    RTFA

    I'd be interested in knowing how many "serious" accidents such redlight cameras have PREVENTED. I believe the preliminary data shows that such accidents as a result of red-light runners, which would cause way more bodily and material harm than a rear-ending, are reduced. This would appear to be contradictory, since the data would appear to suggest that red-light runners have even increased.

    Upon closer examination, I think the shortened-yellow-light theory is quite valid.

    I think the red-light cameras are ultimately a valid way to catch irresponsible drivers (my sister, a pedestrian, got sideswiped by one...could have been much worse).

    That said, the yellow light time should be adequate and driver education should be compensated to match. I do think that most speed limits are artificially lowered for the sole purpose of revenue. Traffic engineers recommend the "85th" percentile limit: The speed at which 85% of traffic would have flowed at even if there were no posted speed limit. This "natural" speed limit is influenced by factors such as traffic, road width and quality, etc. Thus engineers recommend this also become the "posted" speed limit. The county almost always artificially lowers it (because they're tough of crime, right?). Things like that make me question the motives behind the redlight cameras, even though I think the assholes that run the lights deserve a ticket.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 3:34pm

    Simple Solution
    Pop up Spike Strips

     

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    AJ, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 3:35pm

    HA!

    I drive to fast, I have run stop signs and lights, ran over curbs and property,tailgate, change lanes like i just stole my car, i talk on the cell phone and beat my kids while putting on makeup listening to the music wide ass open in traffic that wont move... All of us are guilty of most of the above, i really dont think a stupid camera will stop much of it, maybe the people that know its there, but not the rest. What it will do is make money for the very short period of time it takes to defeat it with technology, just like anything else..actually there is already a way to defeat it, but thats not my point. Catching someone is not prevention. Education is the key, but in my case a waste, I like how i drive :)

     

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    AJ, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 3:36pm

    eeek

    *someone

     

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    JD, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 3:43pm

    Re: Yellow != Speed Up

    I'm sorry... but if you hit the brakes every time the yellow light comes on you're going to end up stopped in the middle of the intersection a lot. I'm not saying Yellow = Speed Up, but it certainly doesn't always mean hit the brakes.

     

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    Bogamol, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 3:50pm

    Re:

    I come from a region that has a poor public transportation system. We have a few buses and the people mover in Detroit (which goes from Downtown Detroit to the otherside of Downtown Detroit)

    People need to be able to drive and some people will be worse at it than others. It is simply not enough to say that only people who are great at driving can drive. Everybody needs to be able to drive in order to be economically stable members of our society. The answer is not to simply attack the people who are worse drivers, the answer is to make driving safer by making it easier. This being a tech related site I'd have thought people would be able to see this. People who couldn't use technology well didn't buy it. Subsequently, companies like Microsoft and Mac have made their operating systems easier to use (rather than insulting the people who have difficulties with thier products) People are not stupid. The very people you call stupid for poor driving are the same people who run the hospitals, operate businesses, build things, make the economy go around.

    The idea presented in the article is a good solution. It could work. Make the roads more user friendly, don't just attack people who can't do something well but are forced to try because our fast economy.

     

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    Agonizing Fury, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 4:01pm

    Re:

    We have a huge infrastructure in place for mass transit. Buses, trains, subways etc. It wouldn't hurt to keep unsafe drivers off the road for longer lengths of time while they save their lunch money to pay off a ticket.

    I don't know where you live mike, but I know that in the US very few cities (other than the major ones) have any type of mass transit system whatsoever, so your plan is flawed. The reason the law allows unsafe drivers back on the road so soon is that there is little other choice for a way to let them get to work.

     

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    PYL, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 4:01pm

    think about this

    Has anyone ever driven in downtown L.A.? There is always so much traffic and barely any left turn signals (although there are left-turn lanes, I don't get it). So when the traffic going straight does not slow down on yellow, the left turn cars HAVE to turn on red. I know someone who got a red light ticket because he was trying to make a left turn but the driver in front of him turned way too slow and the driver going straight ran the red light. At most intersections in LA and surrounding areas, the first left turn car is in the middle of the intersection, while the second left turn car is already over the crosswalk line. There is no other way to get around it. One car per left turn per light interval does not work here. Something has to be done about this! It is unfair to give red light tickets to people that have to drive in extremely congested areas that have improperly planned traffic signals (such as having a left turn lane and no left turn signal). As for most drivers in ATL, I lived there for 5 years. I have to say, most drivers in ATL leave WAY TOO MUCH space in front of them and start braking WAY TOO SOON (especially in the suburban areas), leaving about half a car's length in front of them when they are at a complete stop. This is the cause of many accidents. Stopping too early should be cause for tickets as well, just as going too slow is in most states. A safe driver is not necessarily a slow one.

     

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    Mike B., Apr 5th, 2006 @ 4:05pm

    Are You Kidding Me?

    It's not the damn cameras that are causing the problems, nor is it the 'revenue' that is gained from them. And if you extend the yellow portion or extend the length of the red portion, people will still run the light. The only way to put a dent in it is by two things: drivers being more defensive than offensive and by better enforcement.

    Those of you that are claiming the cameras are for revenue are morons. Plain and simple.

    Those of you that claim the cameras are the cause for more accidents are morons. Plain and simple.

    What needs to happen is drivers need to take ownership and responsibility for their actions. How about when you see a light turn yellow, not trying to beat it. What's the harm in just waiting 30-60 seconds before you have to go again. This is NOT the cameras fault but instead it is our fault as a society of selfish, uncaring, self-centered people.

    *grumbles about damn morons and the damn moron that started this topic

     

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  30.  
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    RayW, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 4:07pm

    Re: Red Light Cameras

    According to the NHTSA:
    In an average year,
    Red light runners cause an estimated 92,000 crashes, resulting in about 950 deaths or about 1 percent.

    On the other hand 1,848,000 rear end collisions resulted in 1,923 fatalities or about 1 tenth of a percent.

    That means your ten times as likely to die in a red light runner accident than you are from being rear ended. Doesn't take a genius to see the overwhelming logic in using red light cameras. It would take a ten fold increase in rear-end collisions to just make the argument even. They are talking about a 21% increase in accidents. This means at least that number of red-light runners didn't happen, with a likely reduction in fatalities equal to at least 1 percent of that 21% increase. Because the culprits here are people at least one vehicle back from the vehicle that legally should stop. These people are really dangerous if they are the second car through a red light. Fortunately their insurance company is finding out from the rear end collision before they get a chance to kill someone in a side impact collision. Not that I like insurance companies, but at least they penalize bad driving.

     

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    Agonizing Fury, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 4:08pm

    Re: RTFA

    Posterlogo, I couldn't agree with you more, but needed to add one more thing. I have driven in many countries, and one of the countries that has it right is Germany. The speed limits are reasonable for their roads, and their [equivalent of] interstates are safer even in places with no speed limits. Why? Because the police pull over the dangerous drivers, not just the ones who are speeding. There is nothing more dangerous than a person going slower than the general flow of traffic in the center or left lanes!! Did any of you know that it is illegal in most states to drive in any lane other than right lane unless you are passing someone, or about to execute a turn or exit to the left. way too many drivers in the US just drive in the center lane with no regaurd for other people.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 4:09pm

    I run red lights and am proud of it.

    Here is why I run them. When I know that the green lights are irrationally long for the cross-traffic (such as when they are timed and traffic is light), it is less dangerous and conspicuous to make sure that all the cross-traffic lanes are occupied by vehicles stopped at the light (I don't run the light unless I can verify that) and then zip through at the tail end of the yellow than it is to stop and wait for the cross traffic to finish and then run the light brazenly (which I will also do).

    There are also lights where i will loudly curse drivers in front of me and give them as intimate a demonstration of my middle finger as I can from a distance when THEY dont run the lights. These are the lights where MY green is so short that unless several people run the beginning of the red, traffic will be blocked up through another intersection. Or at intersections with left turn yields where there is never enough gaps in the oncoming traffic for anyone to turn. Sorry, man, if you dont run that yellow or red light this lane will literally NEVER make any progress.

    Driving is complicated. Laws are guidelines. If you can't handle the complication, follow the guidelines--they'll keep you pretty safe--and accept my cursing as a just punishment for being a member of society not fit enough to interact with others in this important way.

    If you want to completely eliminate all of my light-runnings, all you have to do is make the lights more intelligent.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 4:16pm

    Regarding statistics

    Oh yeah, and regarding statistics, if youre going to attempt a statistical argument here: in 2004 16,694 traffic deaths (39% of the total) involved alcohol [NHTSA ; http://www.madd.org/stats/10212 ]

    Try your social engineering there instead of tinkering with the #$*&^#$ing lights.

    Have you lost any friends over vehement insistence that they not drive drunk lately? Actually I never have, no matter how pissed they are at the time. The day after, I doubt anybody human holds it against you. Try it sometime and see. Your mileage may vary but I hope not.

     

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    Sean, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 4:19pm

    Yellow

    No matter how long they make the yellow light, there will still be people running red lights.

    The biggest problem is people being impatient and inconsiderate.

     

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    Micaiah, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 4:19pm

    Kill them all together...

    This seems to be more a discussion about Yellow-Lights....

    FIrst of all to the guy when your sister got hit, ANYONE who hits ANYONE else in a crosswalk, is an idiot and deserves to have their licence taking away. I don't care if the light is green, but most likely they were turning, either on a right hand turn, which is free in washington, but not free to hit people. Or a left hand turn and they the walker, has FULL rights to cross the road, unless the driver has a green arrow. I guess that just goes back to basic education.

    My solution is eliminate the yellow completely, If you are running a light then you should be running a red light. You will IMMEDIADTLY see results I am sure.

    This will probably have to have other implications like everyone else has been saying. However longer reds for all sides, is a good option. I mean given traffic a breather for a longer time period will actually save you time, when you cut out the 10xs as much time to wait for the yellow, wait for the illegal turners and what not.

    Well I am sorry to be biased towards cross-walkers, as I can't drive due to my eye sight. However basic education, eliminating yellow lights completely, and having a longer red period for all lights is just nominal ways to stop red-light runners. Or more to the point Yellow-Light runners.

    Micaiah

     

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    Chris, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 4:24pm

    The universal answer

    http://www.phantomplate.com/photoshield.html

    Just put something on your car like this and ignore the cameras.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 4:25pm

    Re: Kill them all together...

    Micaiah, I don't remember learning anything about pedestrians or crosswalks in driver's ed. (it was probably covered, but only cursorily) and we certainly didnt go into the city for the road testing.

    For many people, driving around pedestrians is as rare as driving on ice. It is an infrequent occurance (depending on where you live of course) and is therefore especially dangerous because they're not trained mentally to deal with it.

    As to why people aren't extra-careful... well. They probably are. It just doesnt happen often enough for them even to know how extra-careful to be.

    For some folks, a pedestrian in a crosswalk is as unexpected as a UFO landing.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 4:26pm

    My understanding is that they do enhance revenue. Fines are split between the municipality and the company that installed and maintains the cameras. I'm not saying that is the sole reason cities install them, just a factor.

    I'm bothered by them for a few reasons.

    1) I'm a free market guy. Profit incentive is great. But I'm disturbed by the idea of private companies profiting off the justice system.

    2) I hate cameras. Acceptance of red light cameras make other surveillance methods less objectionable (see: London, England).

    3) Nearly automated issuance of tickets, issued to the registered driver of the vehicle, regardless of who's driving. I can't understand why this even approaches being legal.

    I've never received a red light ticket, so perhaps I have some misconceptions, since I'm basing this on what I've read. Still, I'm full of doubts about their benefits.

     

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    Stu, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 4:30pm

    Re: Cameras the cause or shortened yellow lights?

    The camera was put there for revenue. We all know that. The yellow light was shortened when revenue dropped because the 2nd car in the chain started stopping in time, and the 1st car was making the yellow light.... (thus no revenue)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 4:33pm

    Re: 3 points from a free marketeer

    A.C., I empathize with your point number three. My experiences with municipal traffic courts have been so disgusting (ticketed for placing too large of a stopsign at an intersection. if that makes any sense [it doesnt]) that even if I was unjustly issued a ticket due to another driver running a light with my car I would be too discouraged to contest it. If I am going to get an unjust ticket, I want it done to my face by a human jerk, not a computer.

     

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    Roland, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 4:34pm

    Speeding Causes Accidents not Cameras

    If a car is driven at a reasonable speed stopping at a Red Light does not cause accidents.

    This argument is just another rationalization for speeding.

     

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  42.  
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    Lynn (profile), Apr 5th, 2006 @ 4:37pm

    What I dont understand is how the camera actuall decreases accidents. It will not stop a light runner. If someone is going to run the light, they will, camera or no camera.

    Red light camera have got to be the most idiotic means of "increasing safety" I have ever seen. One reason, here were I live, you CAN NOT turn right on red at a red light camera, which at most intersections causes a huge jam.

    As far as revenue, my county has claimed that it requires 47% of each ticket to pay for the service and maintenance on each system. Well where does the other 43% go??? LOCAL REVENUE!

    I can also attest to local drivers slamming on their brakes to avoid getting caught by the camera. And, honestly, how many people still use the "safe distance" rule when you approach a busy intersection, especially during rush hour? Granted, I use the safe distance every where else, but its impossible to use on a busy street at an intersection when every one is traveling around 30-40 mph.

    Oh yeah, heres a thought, for all the folks that think they actually DECREASE accidents....go to your local county office, and ask to see the accident records. It is public knowledge and it is available. You did pay for those cameras with your tax dollars and you have every right to see how they are "helping" you. Compare those numbers with the national average... you will be shocked.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 4:38pm

    Re: Speeding Causes Accidents not Cameras

    Roland that is probably true, and irrelevant. There are other cars to consider here, as well as the psychological factors of knowing you could be photographed and ticketed by a machine, and so forth.

     

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    Chris Maresca, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 4:41pm

    Re: Are You Kidding Me?

    Actually, there was recently a study done on traffic patterns in various countries around the world. The conclusion was that having NO lights, stop signs or other traffic control devices was the safest environment.

    That was because traffic control devices serve largely to speed up the traffic, not slow it down. When you have no such devices, everyone has to slow down to avoid accidents.

    I can't find a link to it right now, but it was from WHO or another larger international body.

    Chris.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 4:44pm

    proposal...

    Maybe we could have laws at a state-level law that prevents municipalities from profiting from light cameras by requiring that profits after operation and installation be handed over to the state for other traffic safety purposes, or refunded proportionally to whomever received tickets.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 4:45pm

    Road spikes!

    Maybe we should put in tire popping spikes that activate when the light turns red! That way when you run the light, you spin out all over the place! Bet you'll never run a light again!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 4:48pm

    Re: Re: Are You Kidding Me?

    Chris, it is a well-known fact that the way to make roads the absolute safest is require, by law, that an incredibly sharp skewer be attached to your steering wheel, in the center, pointed towards your heart. You're gonna be damn carful in that car, arent you?

    Anyway... I have doubts about the study youre mentioning. Another possible conclusion is: other various countries around the world are safer environments for driving. For many factors which I can make up off the top of my head without trying very hard, if you like.

     

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    Major Dork, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 5:02pm

    Re:

    Did you just say that an "increased rate of accidents" is a "win". You're the fuckwit, dude.

     

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  49.  
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    Mike (profile), Apr 5th, 2006 @ 5:16pm

    Re: Re: Red Light Cameras

    That means your ten times as likely to die in a red light runner accident than you are from being rear ended. Doesn't take a genius to see the overwhelming logic in using red light cameras.

    Er. Work on your logic skills a bit more.

    This isn't an either/or option. Why not simply increase the time before cross traffic has a green light. That would cut down on *both* types of accidents, making everything much safer.

     

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    Mike (profile), Apr 5th, 2006 @ 5:19pm

    Re: Re: Are You Kidding Me?

    Actually, there was recently a study done on traffic patterns in various countries around the world. The conclusion was that having NO lights, stop signs or other traffic control devices was the safest environment.

    Chris, we've written about that twice before:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20040520/0110225.shtml

    http://www.techdirt.com/articl es/20041207/0932232.shtml

    And, yes, what they've found is people tend to drive much safer without lights, signs or other traffic control systems.

     

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    John, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 5:33pm

    I was in St. Maarten recently on the Dutch side where there is very little traffic controls whatsoever, basically a situation with no stop signs, lights or even lines painted on the road (the Dutch don't keep up their side of the island very well).

    I rented a car there, and what I found was a hell of a lot of aggravation. People were honking their horns like crazy, yelling at one another, an generally getting really angry. The congestion was absolutely terrible.

    Traffic controls may be primarily intended to speed up traffic, but they also save us a lot of anguish by making things a lot more orderly and predictable.

     

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    Harvey Wallbanger, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 5:34pm

    Re: Re: 3 points from a free marketeer

    It's a falacy that they increase local revenue. Snottsdale Aridzona uses these cams & the city collects

     

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    Topo, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 5:59pm

    El viejo truco de pasarse el rojo...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 6:04pm

    Re:

    None of you flag-waving law lovers speed........ not a one.

    No, I don't, unless I'm in a situation where the safest way out is to move forward quickly. (It happens.)


    The subtext in your message, though, confirms a study that I saw once. The study found that everyone is a good driver, if you ask them. The catch is that what constitutes "good driver" depends on the person. A safe driver will say that safety makes a driver "good", a courteous driver will say the same about courtesy and so on.


    The real problem is that driving is a prisoner's dilemma game. It pays to be the only defector, but everyone would be better off if everyone cooperated.

     

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    Curator Bob, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 6:30pm

    REALLY Red light runners

    Too bad there's no politically correct way to publish some of the colorful moment-of-impact Kodak moments those cameras capture.

    Viewing a few good shots of carnage ocurring as drivers and passengers are being butchered in intersection collisions might cause some of the whining millions to take pause.

     

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    Javarod, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 6:34pm

    Light timing

    Short yellows do exist, and companies have been caught tweaking lights to generate revenue. The key here seems to be what the arrangement is, often times the cameras are run by a private contractor who gets a large portion of the fines, therefore they're inclined to make as much money out of it as possible. Solution? Have the towns run them, that way the likelyhood is that there won't be any hanky panky as they town is more likely to be safety focused first, revenue second.

    As to using cameras for speeders, they're doing that on Route 101 in Scottsdale here in AZ. So far they've generated several thousand (yes, thousand) tickets per month, surprising considering that the posted speed limit is 65, but the camera doesn't flash until 75 or higher. As to the speeds, the highest identified speed so far IIRC is 118 MPH, and unidentified was a motorcycle with no plates captured doing 131 MPH. And people are complaining that these cameras are unfair to them... Ummm, yeah, right.

     

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    Professor Highbrow, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 7:14pm

    Re: Cameras at intersections.

    The law has to consider that as a whole, people will do dumb things. Either it considers how to make things safer for these dumb people, or how to make more money off of them.

    The law generally doesn't do both.


    Well said. There are a lot of valid points posted here, but the issue should be SAFETY not PROFITS. Any other point of debate amounts to government authorized extortion.

    There will always be bad drivers, and making it more difficult to get a licensce and better driver education would definately help (E.g. You are literally too DUMB to drive, sorry.)
    Despite what the official law says, most people perceive a yellow light as "Get the Hell Out of the Intersection or Stop before you get to it." The decision is up to the driver as to which is the best option.
    So it seems logical to just be sure that yellow lights are on long enough for the given speed limit to either keep going or stop easily before approaching the intersection.
    And I agree entirely with the idea of both lights being red just a little bit longer.
    If the government in your state is so damn concerned about "safety," intersection cameras are not the answer, and it's a waste of taxpayer's money.
    If we're gonna allow this type of enforcement, why not just force every citizen to install a GPS tracking device in their car that "calls home" when they are driving over the speed limit. Stay safe, but stay away from turning this into a surveillence society.
    The Trooper on the highway is the pacecar, and once he's gone everyone speeds up to the speed limit +10 mph on the highways, anyhow, as someone pointed out.

    So Let me Pose a related question:
    Why is it legal for a bar to sell more than 3 beers to a customer within one hour and let them drive home?
    Why? Because bars and restaurants mean BUSINESS. BUSINESS means $$$, both through taxes and by attracting more people to the area.

    So how is this not about money? In big cities they issue ridiculously expensive parking tickets in the name of "enforcement" and no one is any safer, are they?
    Its pricey in big cities because its a good source of disguised taxation! And say you want to fight the ticket... even if the judge says you're exonerated, you still wasted 5 hours and had to pay court costs of $40++ depending on where you live for the right to stand for 2 minutes in front of a Traffic Court Judge.

    Get with the program, people, if you don't thing that money has anything to do with this shitty idea. Maybe you just think that we live in a socialist country, but we don't. C.R.E.A.M.

    --Professor HighBrow

     

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    Bogamol, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 7:40pm

    While I think that the solution to bad drivers is to make driving easier rather that just punching them in the face everytime they screw up. It seems evident that nobody is willing to give anyone any leeway on driving. The voters will rule on this one and the majority is going to stick with the cameras, I guess...

    This leaves us with the problem of bad drivers. If people are incapable of driving than something has to be done. They can't drive. How will they get to work? Bus Service? Cab? How do we get them to work? Who is going to pay for it? he/she probably can't afford a chauffer or a bus service. If they can't get to work, are they incapable of working? Are you going to force them to live in the cities again so they can walk to work?

    It seems to me that, in general, you would rather point the finger at 'bad drivers' and restrict them from advancing in life, though they have a difficiency in a essential skill. The way I see it, it is better to be patient with these people and help them thrive rather than exploit them. More laws and fines are not the answer to everything. Treating people like they are stupid or children is a recipe for disaster.

     

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    Chris Maresca, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 7:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Are You Kidding Me?

    Well, you got a bunch of links to two studies, not one. And, having lived in 7 countries, I can safely say that Americans are among the slowest drivers, and also the worst. That's backed up by OECD studies that show that the US has the lowest average speeds of any western country and the highest accidents per driven kilometer.

    Most of that is not due to red-light running, but other factors like poor vehical control, bad lane discipline and a general lack of attention while driving (as shown by 'drive-thru's'). That is reinforced by the three years I spent as an EMT (in the US). Most of the accidents I saw were either drunks or people loosing control of their cars.

    Chris.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 8:05pm

    Re: Re: Are You Kidding Me?

    The conclusion was that having NO lights, stop signs or other traffic control devices was the safest environment.


    That may be true in sense of there being less traffic accidents, but I wonder how many people would die because of ambulances or fire engines not being able to make it in time.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 8:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Are You Kidding Me?

    That may be true in sense of there being less traffic accidents, but I wonder how many people would die because of ambulances or fire engines not being able to make it in time.

    None, us Paramedics can get though anything. (except a train) ;-)

     

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    Mousky, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 9:57pm

    Re: Increase in wrecks

    Since when do traffic engineers perform an economic analysis of red-light cameras? And contrary to what you believe, the fines from red-light cameras more than cover the cost of the system and maintenance.

     

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    mister_spatula, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 10:00pm

    Messing with natural selection

    red light cameras, along with speed cameras, mess with natural selection.

    without them, over time, we would breed out the idiots that run red lights rather than preserving them like we do now.

    the human race is run.

     

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    Mousky, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 10:03pm

    Re:

    The same argument was used to oppose increasing speed limits on the Interstate system - if people are driving 70 in a 50, the will drive 90 in a 70. The facts show differently, the increase in average speed was far less than the increase in the posted speed limit. In Montana, the average speed decreased when speed limits were removed during the day.

    Red light cameras are causing wrecks for other drivers. Many studies of red-light camera intersections (especially ones funded by the insurance and policing industry) only look at collisions in the intersection. If you include a certain distance from the intersection, several studies have shown an increase in rear-enders.

     

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    Mousky, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 10:07pm

    Re:

    Safer drivers will help, but the solution with the biggest impact is the proper design of roads and intersections and the use of reasonable speed limits (85th percentile). The safety at most intersections can be improved by adding 1.5 seconds to the length of the amber light. Yes, some people will try to run the light, but most will not.

     

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    A Funny Guy / The Poison Pen, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 10:39pm

    Re: HA!

    While i deplore the type of person you claim to be I have to admire the BALLS you have to admit you are that type of person.

    It will be much easier now for you to seek mental help now that oyou have come out of the closet.

    Just keep pouring out that truth dude....

    and let the kids rest a day will ya...... you did everything they are doing and i'll just be you didn't get beat for all of it.

     

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    steve, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 10:42pm

    Simple Solution

    Simple Solution:

    Change the solid white lines that lead up to an intersection to double white lines and require them to be a length equal to the time you would travel at the posted speed limit during the yellow light.

    It sure would help the inattentive simpletons on the road make split second decisions when they finally look up at the road and attempt to drive.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2006 @ 11:31pm

    Re: I run red lights and am proud of it.

    wow, you're one of the most arrogant fools i've ever heard. those laws aren't guidelines. in fact, not following those guidelines causes accidents. its your arrogance that leads to people zig-zagging in traffic. if you can run a red light, who says the person going the other way won't. if everyone drove the way you do, there'd be a lot more accidents. the reason you haven't been in one isn't only because you *think* you're a safe driver, but its because everyone else isn't an idiot like you are. its people that disregard the "guidelines" that cause accidents. i don't care that you're willing to risk your life to get to where you're going a minute sooner, but i get pissed off when you're willing to risk someone elses life. cars *can* kill you. they aren't toys and they're not video games.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 2:59am

    Re: Are You Kidding Me?

    Yeh, and we think you're a moron.

     

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    Scott, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 6:09am

    Re: Re: Cameras at intersections.

    Actually Prof. here in Ohio, if you are that bartender you better pray there are no accidents. The law can hold the bartender responsible if it found that they should have know the driver was intoxicated/impaired.

     

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    Scott, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 6:13am

    Re:

    OOOOh, so everyone else is doing it, I should too.

    This is the same idiot mentality that causes accidents to begin with. Most posts about this start out with the dogma "I drive perfectly, everyone else is an idiot". By this very logic you should not be "cruising with traffic" because the guy in front of you is not watching the guy in front of him who is on his cell phone and ignored that traffic has stopped.

     

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    Scott, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 6:18am

    Re: Messing with natural selection

    "without them, over time, we would breed out the idiots that run red lights rather than preserving them like we do now"

    Not quite, reverse corelation there, the red light runners are not the ones getting killed, the others, the idiots are walking away.

     

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    eeyore, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 6:29am

    I ran a red light the other day. I got to an intersection and had that split-second decision whether to stop and decided I had time to make the light. It was red when I entered the intersection, but most lights have a pause of a second or so before they change from red to green. What I did was essentially wrong and I'm not saying any different. What bothered me was that the THREE cars behind me all ran the light. The last car had to be at least two seconds behind me, meaning the crossing street light was green for a full second before he entered the intersection. Of course anybody seeing him barreling by at 80+ would have hesitated and let him go through. But a few years ago I was sitting at a light between a van and an SUV and when the light changed I pulled into the intersection and got T-boned by a car I never saw who ran the light. He tried to claim I jumped the gun and the light was "still yellow" when he entered the intersection. Fortunately for me I had several witnesses who gave statements that the light was red well before he reached the intersection.

    My point: the real problem isn't red light cameras, it's the notion in this country that "yellow light=FLOOR IT." I've seen cars hit intersections a good two or three seconds after the light has changed and never hesitate. And since they're usually going a good 20-30 MPH over the speed limit, if they hit anybody it's going to be bad. People need to learn that a yellow light isn't a signal to speed up and beat a red light, and that running a red light maybe MAYBE saves you four or five seconds TOTAL on your trip. Is that really worth risking your life for? Or somebody else's?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 6:35am

    Re: Re:

    And tacitly condoning running red lights is going to make the situation safer??

    You must be one of those people that blame trains for hitting cars that ignore the crossing gates.

    You continually rail against people that blame cell phones for causing accidents. Now *you're* blaming cameras for accidents. Sorry, no soap.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 6:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Red Light Cameras

    This isn't an either/or option. Why not simply increase the time before cross traffic has a green light. That would cut down on *both* types of accidents, making everything much safer.

    Maybe you should work on *your* logic skills. It doesn't necessary follow that increasing the delay would have any effect. Where's your citation to support this?

     

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    Wizard Prang, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 7:53am

    Amber means STOP!

    Most people seem to think it means "FLOOR IT!".

    I have an annoying habit of braking for amber which has had the driver behind praising my braking technique. At least that is what I think he was doing - his mouth was moving :)

    And that, my friends, is why there are there are more accidents at camera-infested junctions.

    Personally, I think the cameras should be removed, but sadly it seems that too many people cannot be trusted to do the right thing unless a Cop is watching...

     

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    Wizard Prang, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 7:59am

    No it won't

    The reason that people run red lights is because they know that there is a delay, and they make allowances for it. Lengthening the delay will make this worse as people become accustomed to the longer delay.

    If you don't believe me, watch busy junction for a few minutes.

    I would just as soon we go the other way and have Red actually mean Red, and not, as is currently the case, "Oh, I have a couple more seconds"...

     

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    anonymous coward, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 1:21pm

    i'm sure that the people in the crosswalk are happy that drivers are trying harder to NOT run red lights.

    From my experience, brain-dead suburbanites are responsible for most traffic accidents. They are either a.) talking on their cell phones b.) drinking a triple grande venti half-caf somethingorother c.) just too friggin self-absorbed d.) used to driving in their gated pedestrian-free community e.) all the above

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 2:04pm

    Truth

    Local governements will glady sacrifice the lives of children to generate revenue.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 10:51pm

    Re:

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 10:52pm

    Re:

    You need to make a decision. Is it more dangerous to stop on the yellow or red or get rear ended.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 10:53pm

    Re: Re:

    Simple suggestion..a countdown clock on the yellow...hmmm novel idea

     

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    Scott, Apr 7th, 2006 @ 5:47am

    Here's an idea

    Did anyone listen to the local radio stations talk about this when it came up? In Columbus OH, they were up in arms and they had on every radio station(probably the same group calling ever station):

    "The easiest way to defeat a red light camera is to tailgate the guy in front of you." With this typical dipsh*t reasoning there would be an unavoidable increase in accidents. People first looked for a way to defeat the camera, not to drive better.

    In response to the "countries without lights" nonsense. The drivers tests in most other countries are much harder than the US. Most include costs far exceeding the US to get it as well, and the cops do not have to defend writing tickets in court. If you get a ticket, you pay, because most cop cars have dash cams, and a lot of highways have cameras too. But you would piss and moan about your rights being violated with that too.

     

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    Mousky, Apr 7th, 2006 @ 8:23am

    Yes It Will

    A similar argument was used by those opposed to the removal of the 55 mph speed limit on the Interstate Highways. If people are driving 70 in a 55, they will drive 85 or 90 in a 70 zone. Unfortunately, the facts say otherwise. The average speed increased less then the increase in the posted speed limit. Increasing the deal will not necessarily result in more people running red lights.

    If you are running a red light - not an amber light - that means one of three things: 1) you were not paying attention to the traffic lights; 2) you were travelling way too fast to safely stop; or 3) you are an idiot who likes to take chances. Adding back about 1.5 seconds to the amber cycle (a length of time that became optional) would give the people in group 1 and 2 above a better chance of slowing down and stopping, or at the very least travelling trough the intersection before the opposing green appears.

    Your argument has some validity with the third group of people. But no amount of enforcement, intersection improvements or traffic light tinkering is going to stop idiots from taking chances.

     

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    Mousky, Apr 7th, 2006 @ 8:45am

    Re:

    What you did was not "essentially wrong", it was wrong. I find it amusing that you were bothered by the three cars that also ran the red light, but do not seem to be bothered by the fact that you entered the intersection when the light was red. That means that you were not paying attention, that you were driving too fast to safely slow down and stop, that you like taking chances, or some combination of the three.

    It is even more amusing that you talk about "yellow light=FLOOR IT" but admit to entering an intersection when the light was red. What did you think the amber light was for in your case?

     

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    Sharon, May 15th, 2006 @ 4:40pm

    red light runners

    If the duration of the yellow light increases, motorists will
    realize they have even more time to make it through the light. The only way to stop red light runners is to place some type of enforcer at each intersection.
    Who slams on their brakes when the changes? That's what the yellow light is for.

     

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    Sharon, May 15th, 2006 @ 4:51pm

    Re: Are You Kidding Me?

    Well done Mike B. You are absolutely right.
    In our society we have individuals that live to please themselves and those that care about the good of our society.
    No matter what law you enact, the selfish ones will break it.

     

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    Janet, Jan 23rd, 2007 @ 9:24pm

    Re: Red Light

    On the 'safe distance' comment...I learned a trick in HS drivers ed and have used it ever since...the "one-one thousand, two one thousand" rule> When on the highway, pick a fixed object ahead on the side of the road such as any road sign. As the rear bumper of the car ahead of you clears it, start counting 'one one thousand two one thousand'. Your front bumper should NOT reach the object until you finish counting, or you WOULD NOT be able to stop in time to avoid an accident. If you can finish the second thousand, you are good. Try it sometime :-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  89.  
    identicon
    j, Jun 17th, 2007 @ 7:55pm

    Re: Increase in wrecks

    the one where I received my revenue enhancement (aka ticket) has continued to have mid intersection collisions. I did note at traffic school thought that 95% of the people there were camera visolations so it begs the question, who needs cops? The cameras are cheaper, work 24 / 7/ 365, no unions, no benefits, same number of deaths and more revenue. All at the loss of life and a few other violations (suspended licenses, rights of the car owner if it is borrowed... to name a few).

    It i$ all about $afety.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  90.  
    identicon
    j, Jun 17th, 2007 @ 8:00pm

    Re: Yes It Will

    in my area (Santa Ana CA) the lights are not timed he same. Our yellow lights are different so I cannot anticipate which light will trigger yellow to red at 5 seconds or 11 seconds. Makes life hard when you are subjected to such selective enforcement. BTW - my ticket was at 10:30 PM, I was the only person in the intersection thus my decision... saved a lot of lives there and only cost me $400 for traffic school, $100 for court fees, a Saturday in Court listening to people who were also screwed and being forced to eat food from a van supplied by........ the same people that gave the traffic school class. WHAT A SCAM.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  91.  
    identicon
    j, Jun 17th, 2007 @ 8:14pm

    Re: Are You Kidding Me?

    I find the person that say they are the best, most religious or a non moron are typically just that. Best of luck in life and I'll see you in traffic school or the newspaper.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  92.  
    identicon
    Tim M, Nov 22nd, 2007 @ 1:14am

    Re: Anonymous Coward

    The person is refering to the person who now slams on their brakes when they are 50 feet from the intersection when the light just turned yellow like your belly. This person if not in fear of a ticket would have safely passed through the intesection and the person who was behind them would have had a safe distance to stop at the intersection. Thus the PANIC stop is cause otherwise normal conditions to turn into unsafe ones.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  93.  
    identicon
    Paul, Oct 5th, 2009 @ 5:23pm

    Red Light sCams in Scottsdale AZ

    Heard, anecdotaly, that the City of Scottsdale was recently found guilty of illegal red light timing and forced to refund fees to motorists. Anyone hear about this that could point me to a relevant article on this?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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