Thank The Economy For More Traffic Cameras

from the they're-coming... dept

We just wrote about Maryland ramping up its traffic camera program, pointing out that it seemed more motivated by revenue than safety (despite what officials claimed). And, now we're seeing that New York is also ramping up its traffic cameras. Once again, though, the issue is about revenue more than safety. Paul Kedrosky points us to a study that notes that traffic tickets always increase when the economy goes down because municipalities are motivated much more by revenue than safety.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 5:13am

    Interesting that...

    76% of the 7,523 people who have voted thus far favor the red light cameras. People obviously see a problem and right or wrong, they believe the cameras are an attempt at a solution.

    Second point: Since a vast majority of people are buying the concept of red light cameras, does that make them an innovation?

     

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    Haywood, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 5:46am

    At what point do we throw the tea in the harbor

    Time are tough people out of work doing with out, so instead of the cities and states tightening their belts the find more creative ways to fleece the subjects. Believe me, in this instance they are subjects, not citizens.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 6:06am

    I took a polisci course dedicated to the economics of government. One of the main points I got out of that course is that when the government sees fines as a major source of revenue bad things always happen.

    Unfortunately fines are an extremely attractive source of revenue because they are in the category of "someone else pays that." Inevitably as the need for revenue increases the unit of government receiving the revenue expands the range of those who have to pay the fine. Shortening the yellow light time (as they did in Dallas and several other cities) is the classic example of this principle. The traffic light syndrome is classic because the desire for revenue completely reverses the stated objective of the program. The cameras are initially justified on the basis of improving traffic safely, but the desire for revenue causes the cities to take action to reduce safety because it increases revenue.

     

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    Danny, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 6:32am

    Re:

    Unfortunately fines are an extremely attractive source of revenue because they are in the category of "someone else pays that."

    Yes. This is why banks love Insufficient Funds (NSF) charges so much. They generate a lot of the annual revenue for a bank.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 6:46am

    Re: Interesting that...

    What people? 7523 people is less than a drop in the bucket for the state of Maryland or the city of New York. How is that a vast majority? Shit, even 76% isn't a vast majority.

    Maybe those are the policy makers that are deciding their territory needs the cameras? In that case you have a biased pool so where is your control group of average joes?

    What a useless first post.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 6:55am

    Re: Re: Interesting that...

    7523 people is a rather large number to get that high of a percentage over fifty percent(assuming they are all real votes), although it is selecting from a select group of the whole, as opposed to taking the poll at random. take some statistics. . . or if you arent in school, watch some youtube lectures of statistics classes

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 6:56am

    I have no problems with the cameras until they mess with the yellow light timing in order to catch more people. There have been many times where i've seen people fly through the intersection 1 or 2 seconds after the light on MY SIDE has turned green. That's just dangerous

     

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    Amos, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 7:12am

    It still comes down to the point that if you dont break the law you WONT get a ticket therefore depriving the municipality of money. Im sick of the lazy bastards that just cant wait for the light to change green again and run through when it's yellow. As soon as that light turns yellow you should be slowing down. Also there are the idiots making a left turn where there isnt an arrow and wait for it to turn red before making the turn because there is a lot of oncmoing traffic and they are too lazy to wait for 3 or 4 red light cycles to go when its safe.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 7:33am

    Re:

    I've seen yellows as short as a single second at red-light-camera intersections. From 40mph, the posted speed at some of them, that's not enough time to stop. That'd require an average deceleration rate of 1.8 gs, nearly twice what most cars can do.

    If the lights were set up with the recommended intervals for safety (4-second yellow, half-second red-to-green delay), I might be willing to reconsider the cameras. But they'd make nowhere near as much revenue under those circumstances (they probably wouldn't even pay for themselves). So, instead, the municipalities that use these things choose money over safety. This makes them no better than the bean counters at Ford who decided settling the inevitable lawsuits was cheaper than installing a paperweight-sized piece of plastic that would have kept Pintos from exploding in collisions.

     

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  10.  
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    Chris, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 7:52am

    Countdown timers are the solution

    I've said it before and I'll continue to say it on every article like this. Start pushing for cities to provide countdown timers rather than the lame arbitrary yellow lights with hidden timing.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 8:24am

    Extending Yellow light

    Years ago Virginia banned additional red light cameras and removed many existing units. I believe the Governor stated he wasn't going to value revenue over safety and found that extending the time the light is yellow and the time between when a light turns red and the other direction's light turning green actually did a better job with regards to safety.
    Skip to present day and a budget shortage has caused the new leaders of Virginia to install more cameras again. Ridiculous

     

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    Overcast, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 9:11am

    They will actually cause more accidents - people will just JAM on the breaks now to not go through even a yellow - myself included.

    But I guess I'm not worried about it - even if I do that and get rear-ended, I'll have to take the same stance about 'revenue' - it will be the other guy's fault and he'll have to pay.. Sadly enough. Almost been rear-ended twice now trying to stop for these things... but I'll hit the breaks as hard as I need to, to avoid the ill-fated camera.

     

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    Jake, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 9:27am

    There is no way for an infrared-triggered camera to tell whether one is accelerating out of a dangerous road position or just bombing along at Warp Factor Two for the hell of it. Once people start paying more attention to their speedometers than other road users, enforcement traps become counter-productive from a safety perspective, which rarely happened whilst the radar gun was in the hands of a trained police driver with judgement and discretion.

    Moreover, misuse of the law encourages lawlessness. Examples of sharp practice like the ones highlighted in previous blog entries implant the suggestion that since the primary function of enforcement cameras is to generate revenue, it really doesn't matter very much if you break the speed limit or run a red light.

     

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  14.  
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    A Dan, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 9:29am

    Re:

    That's not what yellow lights mean, at least not where I learned to drive. The manual in my state says that yellow (or "amber") means stop for the light if you can safely do so, NOT slow down.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 9:41am

    There was an article recently in the Chicago Tribune about red light cameras. The companies who actually install the camera and report violations to the state said that cameras are moved to different locations when revenue goes down, so there is no "safety" argument, red light cameras are strictly revenue producers

     

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  16.  
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    Randy, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 12:24pm

    Traffic tickets up in Canada as well

    When they have hardly run speed traps for ten years, suddenly the cops are everywhere with their radar guns. It really stinks when you consider that at the provincial and state level they are screwing up the economy by delivering massive amounts of capital to the bloodsucking insurance companies. While on one hand government is trying to infuse liquid cash into the economy; on another they are adding to the doom and gloom while simply padding stagnant corporate bank accounts.

     

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  17.  
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    Paul D, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 3:02pm

    Dear Mr. Politician, when did you stop beating your wife?

    I don't see anything wrong with putting cameras in politicians houses. If they want to make $50 off of me making a right-hand turn on a red, while firing city planners who can make the roads safer, fine. I want to make sure the politicians are not beating their spouses.

    I believe such a request to be very reasonable. After all, these days politicians seem to be less and less trustworthy!

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 5:43pm

    The red light cameras will put an end to the wanton green light theft that everyone around here is so fond of. Green light is not free and stealing it is a crime you will pay for.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 6:51pm

    just another tax

     

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  20.  
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    Tom, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 12:07am

    Re:

    Is it too difficult for someone who had a red light that turns green check both ways to make sure that someone isn't running a yellow? I mean, that person is already stopped, why not let the guy who would normally have to slam on the breaks to slow down just keep going instead of slamming on breaks?

    The problem is there are way too many traffic lights installed everywhere, where I live at least. Half of them are unnecessary. What's this world coming to? A screeching halt, I tell you!!

     

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  21.  
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    Tom, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 12:10am

    Re:

    Exactly, I agree with everything you wrote.

     

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  22.  
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    David, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 12:54am

    Revenue

    We have loads of these nasty things in the UK and it's the same old cry: "Not for revenue, they're for safety". The mobile ones are particularly sneaky, one quite often being situated near me about 400 yards after a fixed speed camera, going up a steep hill. Major road - non-motorway but a dual-carriageway "A" road (as we call'em over here). No real hazards but a 50 mph limit imposed in a knee-jerk reaction after two fatalities when an elderly lady and her young grand-daughter walked out in front of a car. No blame attached to the driver. There is a also a show-ground about a mile further on and it's obviously just sheer coincidence (!) that the speed-trap van quite often appears when there is a function on at the venue AND stays there all day, which is not normal for these things. They normally move on after word gets around. The cynics amongst us might think that it's to catch unwary strangers visiting the area - perish the thought.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 12:10pm

    Re: Re: Interesting that...

    Oh please...It was a survey. Do you understand SURVEY? People see the SURVEY and they vote either YES or NO. 76% percent of the people voting on the survey said they were in favor. Learn how surveys work. They are a representation of the larger population. The FACT that the SURVEY shows that the VAST MAJORITY of voters voted FOR the cameras is significant.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Interesting that...

    What a crappy response to a first post that presents a fact.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 12:17pm

    Re: Re: Interesting that...

    What a useless response to the first post.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 6:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Interesting that...

    Perhaps. If you look around at various surveys, the numbers seem to run from about 70% to 85% approval for speeding cameras and red light cameras, depending on the state or community. It is possible that all these surveys are biased, and to some extent they probably are, but you would think that if someone was trying to make a case for these cameras, they would not tilt the scale so dramatically. What I wonder is whether people who actually do not like the cameras say they do because they feel guilty about running red lights and speeding.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 6:06pm

    Re: Re: Interesting that...

    The first post is accurate. You will rarely get more than a small number of people to respond to any survey. I have seen surveys on MSN and other places regarding issues of national importance where the response is less than 1,000 people. To get this many people to respond to a survey of that type is nearly unbelievable.

    Your post certainly brings little clarity or new information to the subject of the consistently positive responses to the cameras.

     

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  28.  
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    Dan, Apr 29th, 2009 @ 4:55am

    More traffic

    I have no problems with the cameras

     

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