Misleading Scientific American Report On Traffic Cameras

from the not-always dept

Tom sent over a report saying that redlight cameras aren't just about making money for local police (and the companies who sell redlight cameras), but that one study in Barcelona found that the city saved a ton of money due to fewer accidents. Now, what I find interesting about this is that it seems to contradict nearly every other study we've seen on this subject. Study after study after study after study after study has shown no decrease in the number of accidents... and in many cases an increased number of accidents. So is there something that Barcelona did differently with its cameras that resulted in a decrease in accidents?

After digging in, it looks like some of this may just be bad reporting by Scientific American's Cynthia Graber. First, she focuses the article on red light cameras, but the actual study she discusses was for speed cameras. I'm surprised that Scientific American would mix up the two, since they're clearly different. Second, as some people pointed out in the comments to Graber's story, the study happened over a two year period during which unemployment in Barcelona shot up drastically, potentially leading to fewer cars on the road, especially during rush hour periods when accidents are most likely. In other words, while this might be some evidence in support of speed cameras, at best, it shows a correlation, and the causal factor may be something entirely different, such as the amount of cars on the road.


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    Cloksin (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 6:34am

    Still in favor

    I know this isn't going to be popular opinion here, but I'm still in favor of red light cameras, and think they should be put on every light controlled intersection in the country.

    I just don't buy the argument that the presence of red light cameras cause more accidents than they prevent. The common excuse given for this is that because of the camera, and in an attempt to avoid a ticket, when the light turns yellow, people slam on their brakes, causing them to get rear-ended.

    If this is truly the case, then it presents more to the fact that people can't drive for shit, rather than the cameras cause the accident. First, there is no need to slam on the brakes when the light turns yellow, if you're so concerned about getting rear-ended, run the yellow and take your chances with the much cheaper ticket you "might" get than the inevitable collision that will occur.

    Second, if the person behind you isn't capable of paying attention to the fact that the traffic light their approaching is turning yellow and they need to consider stopping, and instead is driving so close to you that when YOU stop for the yellow light, they use the back of your car to stop theirs, then they shouldn't be driving in the first place.

    Maybe if we taught people how to be better drivers, and made them pass a more rigorous test before just handing out licenses all willy-nilly, then maybe accidents at intersections would be reduced whether there was a camera or not. But blaming accidents on the presence of a camera is just a cop-out and an attempt to avoid taking responsibility for ones own actions and crappy driving skills.

     

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    Scott Templeman, Jul 29th, 2011 @ 7:42am

    Scientific American

    Scientific American has been losing more and more credibility over the years (I think Scientific Political Agenda would be a better title). I do enjoy their coverage of evolution and psychology, but they show extreme bias and slanted opinions on just about any topic that can be politically biased. On other topics I tend to follow their sources and read what I can on those since I have little or no trust in their journalistic integrity (which in their defense is generally par for the course in the US media)

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 7:54am

    Re: Still in favor

    Red light cameras is nothing more than a bandaid solution to the REAL problem--they'll give a drivers license to just about any idiot who can guess well on a multiple choice test and bluff well on a driving "test".

    If there were actual stringent requirements in obtaining a drivers license, it would never have become an issue in the first place.

    So, to civilly disagree with you--red light cameras are not a solution, they're just an extended symptom of the problem.

     

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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 7:55am

    Re: Still in favor

    "I know this isn't going to be popular opinion here, but I'm still in favor of red light cameras, and think they should be put on every light controlled intersection in the country."
    But at least you acknowledge that it's an opinion.



    "I just don't buy the argument that the presence of red light cameras cause more accidents than they prevent. The common excuse given for this is that because of the camera, and in an attempt to avoid a ticket, when the light turns yellow, people slam on their brakes, causing them to get rear-ended."
    Reference the multiple studies Mike links to... there seems to be a mountain of numbers that suggest otherwise. Another point in these reports is this: even if the lights don't directly increase the number of accidents, they also don't decrease the number either. It looks like (in many of the studies) the T-bone collisions are traded out for rear-end collisions.




    "If this is truly the case, then it presents more to the fact that people can't drive for shit, rather than the cameras cause the accidents."
    No argument here... I lose count of the stupid I see on the 10min drive to work every morning. But does that mean that it's OK to introduce a factor that may exacerbate the situation? Why set idiots up for further failure? Unless the revenue the city receives is worth that...




    "Second, if the person behind you isn't capable of paying attention to the fact that the traffic light their approaching is turning yellow and they need to consider stopping, and instead is driving so close to you that when YOU stop for the yellow light, they use the back of your car to stop theirs, then they shouldn't be driving in the first place."
    Again, no argument here... but this doesn't really address the safety of the cameras or the risks and rewards they bring. In my opinion, if there are assholes riding my rear bumper, and the city is forcing me to make the choice between a possible ticket or getting rear-ended because the (in some cases, shortened) yellow-light gets me in that horrible window of 'not sure if I can make it'... I'm more pissed at the city for putting me in that situation.




    "Maybe if we taught people how to be better drivers, and made them pass a more rigorous test before just handing out licenses all willy-nilly, then maybe accidents at intersections would be reduced whether there was a camera or not. But blaming accidents on the presence of a camera is just a cop-out and an attempt to avoid taking responsibility for one’s own actions and crappy driving skills."
    Still, no argument here. It seems you're making a good statement... but unfortunately, it doesn't actually say anything to the point of the cameras. Saying they increase the number of accidents is not a 'cop-out' nor is it an avoidance of responsibility. It is all about setting up the stupid for failure.

    And how is it a cop-out for someone else's bad driving if it affects me? I'm not the one that was tailgating if I get rear-ended due to the camera. What if the guy in front of me stops suddenly for the yellow, which causes me to hit my brakes, and the guy behind me was tailgating and hits me? I had plenty of room, but still had to stop suddenly. How would that be me avoiding responsibility?

    I’ve worked as an auto claims adjuster. Trust me… the situation above happens all too often.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2011 @ 7:56am

    It's not just bad reporting. That something like this actually got through the editing process shows yet again how badly "mainstream media" journalism standards have fallen.

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 7:58am

    Re: Still in favor

    "Maybe if we taught people how to be better drivers, and made them pass a more rigorous test before just handing out licenses all willy-nilly, then maybe we wouldn't need red light cameras"

    FIFY

    The red light cameras are a reaction to people driving poorly. The reaction caused even more people to drive poorly (you don't just slam on your breaks without something being directly in front of you). If you want people to drive safer, there are much easier ways to do that, they just don't make money.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2011 @ 8:00am

    Part of the problem with red light cameras is that they are difficult to oppose if you want to go to court to challenge a ticket. It's virtually a case of "guilty until proven innocent" and the guilty party usually ends up being the owner of the vehicle, regardless of who else may have been driving the day it was caught on camera.

    Another problem is that some municipalities that have them installed have found the ticket revenue so lucrative that they couldn't resist the temptation to shorten the yellow-light time in order to catch more violators.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 8:01am

    Re: Still in favor

    Isn't educating your drivers the best option over cameras? Also, sometimes I go through a red light for many factors other than wanting to break the law. What about night time when you risk being robbed if you stop at certain red lights?

    The rear-end issue is quite true and sometimes it's not a matter of driving too close or lack of attention. Sometimes you look at your side mirrors to go to the other lane and in that small period of time the guy in front of you slams his break and when you react and slam yours the damage is already done.

    I have mixed feelings about the cameras. I've been to the US once, northwest coast. And, surprise! Ppl respect the red lights even when they aren't red! Drivers will often stop if you mean to cross the street even with green lights. And they'll ignore red lights if there's no traffic in the intersection they are at depending on if they want to cross or to turn left/right.

    So, uh, education is by far the best option and red light cameras (or speed cameras) are just auxiliary measures.

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 8:03am

    The Only

    There is a "once and for all" solution to bad drivers--car that drive themselves, or rather Self Driving Cars.

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 8:13am

    Re: The Only

    Go tell that to anyone who works with computers all day.

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 8:22am

    Re: Re: The Only

    Actually, *I* work with computers & programmable microprocessors all day.

    I've been doing 'in the trenches' code monkey work for several years now.

     

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    Kevin (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 8:24am

    Re: Still in favor

    I was just reading an excellent article last night that, while on a totally different subject, may shine light on the problem and why your solution isn't accepted by most people here. The article is called "Forcing Functions and Mouse Pads", and it explores an issue created by technological enforcement of strong passwords. This creates what experts call a "rearrangement" problem, where users whose memories can't cope with the requirement simply rearrange the problem and write the password down, which is in practice much less safe than even using a very weak password (as their data shows).

    In the case of the traffic light cameras, I think a similar pattern emerges, which you may have even hinted at in your scenario. Traffic light cameras are presumably intended to reduce (to use another commenter's phrase) "T-bone" style accidents by disincentivizing drivers attempting to "beat the yellow" and speed through the light. However, this may cause them to overreact to yellow lights (as other commenters, and moreover the above-mentioned studies) have pointed out, in effect rearranging the problem and causing another kind of accident.

    The increase in accidents may simply be due to the fact that, as we all are used to this sort of "stupidity" while driving, we anticipate it, thus partially reducing the incidence of the first kind of accident. However, most of us do NOT follow safe prescriptions for following distance, making the latter type of accident more likely, particularly as unexpected behaviors in response to new incentives arise.

    We can all agree that there is a lot of bad behavior from drivers, but forcing another kind of bad behavior doesn't make these problems go away.

     

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    Larry Luther, Jul 29th, 2011 @ 8:29am

    Re: Scientific American

    Nail meet hammer. I lost all respect for SA by 1995. SA has become another MSM outlet.

     

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    FormerAC (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 8:30am

    Re: Re: The Only

    Because when my office computer crashes, I can just reboot. When the computer running my car crashes, it just might crash the car too.

    No officer, I wasn't texting, I was trying to reboot the self drive CPU!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2011 @ 8:30am

    Re: Re: The Only

    I think they're a great idea and I work on computers all day. These things are a win/win if we mandate that drivers with a certain number of moving violations/collisions use them. Less stupid drivers on the road either because the cars do what they are supposed to, or less stupid drivers on the road because the cars all crashed and killed them all at the same time for unrelated reasons.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2011 @ 8:31am

    Re: Still in favor

    I thought the primary objection to cameras was that they were only there to make money. The issue being that the time, money, and effort spent on a camera system could have been better spent, from an overall driver safety perspective, on something else. Like better education for drivers! Something that government are seem less inclined to do because there's no tangible, monetary benefit to it.

     

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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 8:35am

    Re: Re: Re: The Only

    I wonder if the insurance companies will offer discounts based on your operating system. I bet MS would be a surcharge ;)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2011 @ 8:35am

    Re: Still in favor

    Longer yellow Lights have shown to be cheaper and more effective to implement.

     

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    Kevin (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 8:37am

    Re: Re: Re: The Only

    Because when my office computer crashes, I can just reboot. When the computer running my car crashes, it just might crash the car too.

    No officer, I wasn't texting, I was trying to reboot the self drive CPU!


    I don't think this situation is as likely. Leaving aside the technological advancement that would necessarily precede self-driving cars becoming mainstream, there is already a lot of attention paid to making embedded systems far more stable than PCs precisely because they require less user interaction.

    This is why you don't usually have to "reboot", say, your exercise equipment, or a parking meter, despite it likely having an embedded computer system. It is also more stable by virtue of the fact that users don't get to mess with it as much, by installing software, etc.

     

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    David, Jul 29th, 2011 @ 8:44am

    traffic lights

    I don't think that traffic cameras will lead to any consistent changes in the amount of accidents. I do feel that if we adapt systems like those seen in places like China, where traffic lights give countdowns before changing, it would help to avoid uncertainty when approaching a traffic light leading to safer intersections.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2011 @ 8:48am

    Re: Re: Still in favor

    If the money collected from these ticketing cameras were used to improve troublesome intersections, more people would support them.

    But...I doubt that's the case. It isn't always drivers behaving badly, but poorly designed or antiquated road or signal systems that should be addressed.

     

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    Gill Bates, Jul 29th, 2011 @ 8:53am

    Traffic lights suck

    and so do red-light cameras.

    Nearly every red light could be done better with a "round-about" or traffic circle. Traffic would move better, fuel efficiency would increase (as there would be less idle time) and maintenance costs would decrease.


    Of course the American mindset cannot embrace this idea, so we have lights and revenue-generating cameras

     

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    kirillian (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 8:54am

    Re: Still in favor

    I can understand that dealing with the stupid drivers on the road might be frustrating to the point that something like red light cameras might be an attractive solution. Nonetheless, I can't advocate something that potentially increases hazards on the road (makes them more unpredictable at the least) and at best doesn't seem to have any net effect (according to past studies...this study appears to be rather lacking...it might be different if we could point to quality studies upholding the safety-increases that red-light cameras bring).

    I 100% agree that we need to make people pass more rigorous tests...if they can't drive, don't pass them...if they have their license and are pulled over for being a hazard to traffic (assumes cops are out looking for hazards, not necessarily speeders or other such big-fine ticket items...), revoke their license...if people can't handle the consequences of reckless driving, then I'm not confident they should be on the road in the first place.

    For red lights, I still believe in two things: increase yellow light timings...in the city that I currently live in, the yellow light timings are all over the place...downtown where speed limits are 25mph, yellow lights last 5-7s...out on the fringes of town where speed limits are 55, some yellow lights are not even 2s long (also...red light cameras :) )...if that's not problem causing, I don't know what is. The second issue that I think needs to be addressed is the pause between a direction receiving a red light and another direction receiving the green. That pause should aid in clearing an intersection. My only issue with this though would be concern that behaviors might be affected over time...and people would ignore red lights as well...

    In the end, the cause of the issue (too many unqualified drivers on the road) needs to be addressed...

     

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    steve davidson (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 9:10am

    Cameras Suck, but they work

    Phoenix PD places the auto cameras along strategic roads that either they don't want to patrol, or they just got tired of handing out tickets after tickets....and sure enough I got nailed one day on way to airport and received the ticket in mail a couple of weeks later. While you can argue invasion of rights etc; the truth is, the next time I went to airport, I paid more attention to the speed limit, left a little earlier etc; What I find strange about your position is the fact that slower traffic and more attentive drivers does NOT reduce accidents, thus driving without regard to speed laws is irrelevant. My son-in-law is a Trooper...ride with him for a day and you'll see what speed does for drivers, their victims, and families.....

     

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    Mike C. (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 9:36am

    Re: Re: Still in favor

    The biggest problem with red light cameras is that most people are completely unable to judge speed vs distance. This results in one of two common situations:

    1) No red light camera and the person assumes they are going fast enough to get ALL THE WAY THROUGH the intersection before another direction turns green

    or

    2) Red light camera and the person assumes they have to SLAM their brakes to come to a stop in time. This can (and is) exacerbated by shortened yellow lights.

    There's an easy, low cost multi-part solution that would have a better benefit:
    1) Increase the duration of the yellow light signal by 0.5 seconds
    2) Have all directions be red for 1 second in between transitions
    3) Add a new painted road marker (i.e. a line across the road) to give people an idea of whether or not they can "make the light" if they're following the speed limit. If you're between the line and the stop light, it's safer to NOT brake. If you're before the line, you should be able to stop in time.

    Works in theory... :-)

     

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    AJ, Jul 29th, 2011 @ 9:38am

    Re: Cameras Suck, but they work

    I suppose people seeing the cameras or flash, and slamming on their brakes, is perfectly safe for said victims and families? NO one wants idiot drivers, but these damn cameras are just as dangerous as the idiot drivers.

     

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    Scott Templeman, Jul 29th, 2011 @ 9:47am

    Camera issue

    If people running red lights are so deadly or so frequent, then why do we need to set up robots to monitor intersections? Have you ever been stuck at an intersection for 3 minutes where no one is moving because of a poorly programmed light? Plain and simple law enforcement needs to do their job, not some automated ticket spambot. Who gets harmed when the frustrated driver decides to turn on Red at an empty 5 way intersection after sitting 2 minutes watching the lights go through it's sequence optimized for 9AM traffic? If a law is stupid and not based in the real world, it SHOULD be broken.

    "One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws"-MLK

    (and yes, a stupid disguised toll that protects no one, and encourages more reckless driving on a yellow light, is an unjust law)

     

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    PlagueSD (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 9:49am

    The rear-end issue is quite true and sometimes it's not a matter of driving too close or lack of attention. Sometimes you look at your side mirrors to go to the other lane and in that small period of time the guy in front of you slams his break and when you react and slam yours the damage is already done.


    If that's an issue for you, see previous post about following too closely. Checking mirrors and blind spot before changing lanes shouldn't take more than a second or two...Hence the 2 second rule for following the car in front of you.

     

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    Stephen Donaldson, Jul 29th, 2011 @ 9:54am

    RLC (and speed scameras) are NOT for safety, but money

    It is becoming very obvious that the RLC are NOT about safety since most RLV crashes are plus 5 second into red events. Further those crashes tend to have themes like: DUI, fleeing police, not paying attention to name a few.

    In the meantime most RLC "tickets" are for technical fouls like right turns on red, stopping over the stop line and split second mistakes.

    As for the speed scameras.

    Be aware that the police have been BUSTED manipulating numbers by underreporting like in the UK: http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/29/2913.asp

    quote: UK Department for Transport reports threefold undercount of road accidents during the speed camera era.

    Or in Austrailia underreporting deaths: http://www.banthecams.org/201107171466/Victoria-Police-exclude-72-deaths-in-record-low-road-toll.-To -make-scameras-look-good.html (or http://www.heraldsun.com.au/ipad/victoria-police-exclude-72-deaths-in-record-low-road-toll/story-fn6 bfm6w-1226088420032) Quote: POLICE excluded more than 70 deaths from Victoria's road toll last year before declaring it a record low.

    Victoria Police did not tell the State Government it had not included 72 other deaths, amounting to 25 per cent of its claimed record low toll of 287 fatalities.

    Be wary of accepting "reduction" in accidents claims. In Wiltshire UK, the police were saying speed scameras help "reduced" accidents that were:

    http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/05/538.asp Quote: The Wiltshire and Swindon Safety Camera Partnership claims that three months of speed camera usage on the M4 highway in the UK has slashed serious road accidents by 64 percent. "This dramatic reduction in crashes is as a direct result of our strategy to enforce the national speed limit on this section of the motorway, no other changes have been made to slow traffic down or to make the road any safer," explained David Frampton, the Project Manager for the camera partnership.

    That sounds like a significant benefit, except road safety experts say the camera officials are lying. "There is absolutely no mechanism by which their claims could be true," said Paul Smith, founder of the Safe Speed road safety campaign.

    The Association of British Drivers (ABD) fought with the camera partnership for release of crash data under the Freedom of Information Act. According to the documents, the crashes cited in the formal justification for the placement of cameras on the M4 include:
    •an accident where a pedestrian fell from a bridge
    •an accident where a gust of wind pushed one truck into another
    •several tire blowout accidents
    •a crash where a car drove the wrong way


    Fight the SCAM!

    Ban the CAMS!

    check out:

    www.motorists.org
    www.banthecams.org
    www.camerafraud.com
    www.bhspi.org

     

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    shep, Jul 29th, 2011 @ 9:54am

    Re: Still in favor

    If we are going to put in Red Light Cameras, I demand a long, long yellow light. Like 5 to 10 seconds long. That way the people running a red and getting a ticket are only the truly reckless ones. What we've found, however, is that when red-light cameras are installed the city tends to shorten the yellow light so that they can get more tickets, and that's when we really start to see the cameras/lights actually cause accidents.

     

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    Krusty, Jul 29th, 2011 @ 10:02am

    Re: Still in favor

    It’s NOT their presence but their programming that is the problem.
    The yellow light timing length is shortened to insure that you will be in the intersection when the light turns red.
    This is why people started to jam on their brakes at yellow lights.
    This was proven in city after city and if you don’t have a problem with that then your a fool.

     

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    Havoc (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 10:17am

    Re:

    Not quite true. They're civil cases, in which case the burden of proof is on the citizen, not the city. Place blame where it properly belongs: it's your town council or city government, YOU can get this recalled with a simple petition and a vote.

     

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    Havoc (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re: Still in favor

    "The yellow light timing length is shortened to insure that you will be in the intersection when the light turns red."
    Um, no. As far as I have seen, this is a direct violation of state law in most, if not all, states. If you suspect this has happened, call your state transportation department(most have toll free numbers) and report it.
    Cities have been fined for this very thing, and they have to follow the rules just like we do.

     

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    Vidiot (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    Re: Scientific American

    Agreed that the editorial "sparkle" is gone, in the name of mass appeal; I'd been a sporadic print subscriber for decades (in direct proportion to the pile of unread issues on my floor), and watched it fade. But the latest aggravation is the worst: enough of a tease on their RSS feed (via my iGoogle portal) to click through, only to find a paywall nastygram about two sentences in. Most feed stories from others with paywalls are at least partially readable.

     

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    Vidiot (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 10:32am

    Re: Traffic lights suck

    Actually, in NJ (known for our fine, fine drivers), we've gradually removed pretty much every traffic circle. They were colossal accident farms, mostly because they employed variables such as "good judgement". Drivers get unpredictable and wacky without black and white (or red and green) absolutes to obey.

     

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    Havoc (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 10:33am

    Re:

    And that other part- alleging shortening the yellow light- is illegal. Report it to the state, although in reality it is rare that it's actually been done- classic urban legend.

     

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    New Mexico Mark, Jul 29th, 2011 @ 10:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Still in favor

    If red light cameras came with "consumer protection" laws similar to your suggestions, I wouldn't be so vehemently opposed to them.

    I especially like the idea of a standardized warning line painted on streets, showing where a car can expect to make it through an intersection at the speed limit without the light turning red.

    As it stands now, red light AND speeding cameras are nothing more than ways to suck in more revenue, but doing so in the worst ways possible. I'll always be against any system that issues citations with no realistic appeal process. Why do we assume automated systems don't make mistakes? Of course they make mistakes, they just do so with greater speed and efficiency than people. Even the worst police officer isn't going to write hundreds of incorrect citations every day.

     

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    Angry Puppy (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 11:50am

    Un-Scientific American

    It's amazing how the topic of poor scientific reporting is being ignored in the comments while most are rampaging about the incidental red light camera article. However, I see that the same emotional, opinionated, un-thought out, factually inaccurate BS is used in the responses as, presumably, in the article. Oh the irony.

    I can not tell if red light cameras increase or decrease accidents at those intersections with them. The access to the raw data, analysis of survey sampling, and studies of factors like holiday and weather are not available to me. The studies Mike cites are not studies, they are reports from politically canted newspapers and car enthusiast sites that should be suspected of bias or should be taken as anecdotal or hearsay at best. You complain about Scientific American not being scientific and use even shoddier evidence to support an opinion presented as fact. Shame on you!

    One fact is obvious: If you are caught by a red light camera
    you ran a red light. You are a bad driver and deserve the fine. My town has cameras on every major intersection (and many minor ones) and I have not had a ticket in over twenty years. I suspect most of the boys and girls complaining about RLC tickets here are simply self indulgent, undisciplined, douche bags who are so pathetic they break traffic laws as whiny passive-aggressive acts of rebellion and hate that there are mechanisms created to catch them. Just wait twenty years to when, after ignoring the third HUD display warning that you are exceeding the posted speed limit, the car's on board management ECU reads your implanted RFID chip and reports your speeding to a roadside enforcement WiFi hotspot. The ticket will be in your email in basket when you get home. Orwell would laugh his guts out.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2011 @ 1:12pm

    Re: The Only

    is there a "once and for all" solution to bad programmers?

    i hope ms doesn't get the bid for Windows COS

     

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  40.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 1:52pm

    Re:

    If it takes you two seconds to check your blind spot, that leaves you 0.00 seconds to slam on the brakes if the car in front of you does. That's the point, a stupid act by a person in front of you at exactly the wrong time causes wrecks. And stomping on the brakes at a yellow light is a stupid act.

    Red light cameras don't stop the problem of bad drivers, it compounds it. There are easier and more effective ways to solve the problem, but they cost money not make it.

     

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  41.  
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    Killercool (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 1:56pm

    Re: Cameras Suck, but they work

    You misunderstood the story. The (probably) perfectly valid study about speed cameras was used to support a report about red light cameras.

     

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  42.  
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    Killercool (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 1:57pm

    Re: Re: Cameras Suck, but they work

    Also, there was a high probability of correlation being mistaken for causation.

     

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  43.  
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    Killercool (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Un-Scientific American

    You speak of an Orwellian future and decry "wrong thinking" youth in the same post? Odd.
    Anyways. What happened to the mindset that, it is better to let the guilty free than punish an innocent? Multiple times, red light camera have been shown to "malfunction", ticketing drivers who stopped late, moved up to the line while a red was showing, or went though a light that wasn't red yet.

    Also, bad reporting has been so prevalent in my lifetime, and I imagine many of the other commenters' lifetimes (25 and younger), that it is no longer considered abnormal or unexpected.

     

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  44.  
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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: The Only

    First of all, there's a big difference between a huge, millions- (billions?) of-lines-of-code, general-purpose operating system that needs to work with a large variety of peripherals that are operated via second-party drivers, and a dedicated, single-purpose embedded computer system with known, fixed peripherals and a limited number of tasks to perform.

    Second, unless you're driving an antique, chances are pretty gosh darned good that your car already is run by a computer. My current one is, my last one was (model year 1996) and possibly one or two before that.

    When is the last time you rebooted your car because it started running oddly? Seriously.

    They do fail, sometimes disastrously, but rarely. Please don't assume that every computerized process is as error-prone as a Windows installation. (Have you ever had to reboot your microwave?)

    The real problem with self-driving cars is designing them and/or their travel environment to avoid or cope with problems, not the robustness of the computers themselves.

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    chris, Jul 29th, 2011 @ 5:05pm

    Re: Re: Still in favor

    If someone rear-ends you it is their fault.

    The problem with this reporting is that it equates the number of collisions with safety. As you say, red light cameras cause an increased number of collisions while reducing the number of T-bone collisions, the later being much more likely to result in serious injury. I think if we are going to argue against the cameras it needs to be something other then that they increase the number of collisions.

     

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  46.  
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    nasch (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 9:53pm

    Re: Un-Scientific American

    However, I see that the same emotional, opinionated, un-thought out, factually inaccurate BS is used in the responses as, presumably, in the article. Oh the irony....

    One fact is obvious: If you are caught by a red light camera
    you ran a red light. You are a bad driver and deserve the fine. My town has cameras on every major intersection (and many minor ones) and I have not had a ticket in over twenty years. I suspect most of the boys and girls complaining about RLC tickets here are simply self indulgent, undisciplined, douche bags who are so pathetic they break traffic laws as whiny passive-aggressive acts of rebellion and hate that there are mechanisms created to catch them.


    Now that is some sweet irony.

     

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  47.  
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    Angry Puppy (profile), Jul 30th, 2011 @ 2:42am

    Re: Re: Un-Scientific American

    Never let the guilty free, make the system so the innocent can't be wrongly convicted. If RLC systems catch innocent drivers so often why have I not been? I see arguments like these a lot but never any evidence to prove the statement.

    Bad reporting started long before my birth, this doesn't mean we should tolerate it. I have never read an article in a major newspaper that had content I had first hand knowledge of that was accurate. We should complain and hold reporters to high expectations of accuracy and objectiveness.

     

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  48.  
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    Angry Puppy (profile), Jul 30th, 2011 @ 2:43am

    Re: Re: Un-Scientific American

    What irony? It was just a bitchy rant. Haven't you ever heard of trolls?

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2011 @ 5:33am

    Re: Re: Still in favor

    There is no *good* excuse for ramming someone in front of you. Way to many people tailgate.

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2011 @ 5:38am

    Re: Re: Still in favor


    rearranging the problem and causing another kind of accident.

    The cause is the person following too closely.

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    chris, Jul 30th, 2011 @ 5:42am

    Re: Re: Still in favor


    The cameras don't cause a hazard; bad drivers do.

    "we need to make people pass more rigorous tests"

    I don't support that. Driving is a right. If people cause an accident then throw the book at them but until then...

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    chris, Jul 30th, 2011 @ 5:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: The Only

    The computer keeps the engine running. The steering and brakes, no computer there. Okay, maybe anti-lock brakes. I've read that a computer driven car operated in the current environment is impossible and amounts to an AI complete problem. They will end up redesigning the roadway system to allow self driven cars.

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2011 @ 5:55am

    Re: Traffic lights suck

    In Houston we have a backwards traffic circle. Those in the circle do not have the right of way! Only in Texas...

     

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  54.  
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    nasch (profile), Jul 30th, 2011 @ 5:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Un-Scientific American

    Never let the guilty free, make the system so the innocent can't be wrongly convicted.

    And in a world of flawed humans and fallible technology, exactly how would you implement such a system?

     

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  55.  
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    nasch (profile), Jul 30th, 2011 @ 5:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Un-Scientific American

    lol, you still don't see it! You spewed out a bunch of emotional, opinionated, un-thought out, factually inaccurate BS immediately after complaining that the comments here are full of emotional, opinionated, un-thought out, factually inaccurate BS.

     

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  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2011 @ 6:00am

    Re: Re:


    a stupid act by a person in front of you at exactly the wrong time causes wrecks

    No, the person who slams into the car in front of them caused the wreck. If it takes you two seconds to check (that's an awfully long time) you need to stay more than two seconds behind the car in front of you. It's not rocket science.

     

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  57.  
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    nasch (profile), Jul 30th, 2011 @ 6:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Still in favor

    Driving is a right.

    In the US, driving is not recognized by law as a right. The whole concept of a driver's license is because some people have the privilege of driving and others do not. You may think it ought to be a right, but that's the situation. Also, if you believe stricter licensing requirements are wrong because they remove the "right" to drive, then there really shouldn't be any requirements at all. If you're over the state's minimum age and have a pulse, you can drive?

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2011 @ 6:05am

    Re: Re: Un-Scientific American

    Don't most RLC systems show you a video? It's not like it's the cameras that send out tickets. The videos are reviewed by law enforcement. I'm sure if you went to court, the video would be available for review.

     

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  59.  
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    Shawn (profile), Jul 30th, 2011 @ 7:04am

    Don't Read It

    I gave up reading Scientific America when I read an article that compare the modern day levels of CO2 with levels of CO2 and methane released by volcanoes in ancient times. If you don't know why that's so wrong, look up the effects of methane as a greenhouse gas.

     

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  60.  
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    Gene Cavanaugh (profile), Jul 30th, 2011 @ 10:22am

    Red Light Cameras

    Thank you. I knew that report was wrong, I just didn't know why, and now I do.

     

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  61.  
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    Angry Puppy (profile), Jul 30th, 2011 @ 3:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Un-Scientific American

    You mean as you are doing? Oh, the irony!

     

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  62.  
    icon
    Angry Puppy (profile), Jul 30th, 2011 @ 3:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Un-Scientific American

    Wow! And people call me cynical. And the answer is: By trying.

     

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  63.  
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    nasch (profile), Jul 30th, 2011 @ 5:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Un-Scientific American

    No, what I'm doing is feeding a troll. Totally different.

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    chris, Jul 30th, 2011 @ 5:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Still in favor

    Rights may or may not be stated in law, and licensing doesn't mean a right doesn't exist. For example, gun ownership is usually called a right, yet there is a licensing system in place. In this case I equate driving with the right to freely move about the country.

    I guess the main thing I'd like to say is I just don't believe the training will produce safer drivers. If we're talking about learning the rules of the road, then I agree, but as far as driving skill, I'd rather just leave it to people to know their own limits. I feel the same way about speed laws. Let me drive as fast as I want, but if I cause an accident I'll have to face the consequences.

     

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  65.  
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    nasch (profile), Jul 31st, 2011 @ 7:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Still in favor

    Rights may or may not be stated in law, and licensing doesn't mean a right doesn't exist. For example, gun ownership is usually called a right, yet there is a licensing system in place.

    That's true, however gun ownership is enumerated. And without the right being stated in law, you're not going to be able to defend it against the state except by violence.

    In this case I equate driving with the right to freely move about the country.

    People who have lost their driver's licenses, or don't qualify for one, still have the right to travel freely.

    I guess the main thing I'd like to say is I just don't believe the training will produce safer drivers.

    Do you think it's unrelated coincidence that European countries with much more rigorous training also have better drivers? How could more and better training (and stricter driving tests) fail to make drivers better?

    Let me drive as fast as I want, but if I cause an accident I'll have to face the consequences.

    If you were the only one facing the consequences, that would be fine. However, you might kill me and my family if you misjudge your talents, which is why we have speed limits.

     

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  66.  
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    Any Mouse (profile), Jul 31st, 2011 @ 8:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Still in favor

    This is why punishments in the law reference the withdrawal of driving 'privileges.' You might feel that there is a right to drive, but it is not recognized by law, and does not really exist.

     

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  67.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2011 @ 8:52am

    that's what happens when you let a woman do a scientific study

     

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  68.  
    identicon
    shawn, Jul 31st, 2011 @ 8:53am

    Re:

    so true...

     

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  69.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2011 @ 9:46am

    Re: Re: Traffic lights suck

    That sounds like...a parking lot. My condolences!

    Traffic circles are okay for tiny, single or double lane intersections that are easily navigated and visualized, but for large, heavy traffic patterns they are absolutely the worst idea evar.

    Kudos to Jersey for finally ditching them.

     

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  70.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2011 @ 9:52am

    Re: Re:

    Inept troll is inept.

     

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  71.  
    identicon
    chris, Aug 1st, 2011 @ 12:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Still in favor


    Are you familiar with the effect known as risk compensation? Speed limits are more of a political tool than anything else, similar to the TSA. Killing anyone would be a tragedy but you still need to show that the action being taken is actually preventing such a tragedy. Just like I'm not willing to accept any and all airport security measures without it being proven that it is actually keeping me safer. Otherwise, it's just a political move. I understand that the autobahn is one of the safest roads in the world.

    I believe there are too many differences between European countries and the US, roads, cars, etc. to draw an accurate conclusion. I think the training may help, on the other hand people will do some things no matter risky they know them to be.

    I guess it depends on your definition of a right. One could say that when the government restricts some behavior, then that must not have been a right. However, I believe that the government is capable of violating someone's rights, and so just looking at what the government has or hasn't done is not an accurate way of determining rights.

    Regarding enumeration, those powers not specifically granted to the government are reserved by the people. Therefore, it is more correct to say that you have all rights by default, and only the restrictions on your rights is what gets enumerated.

     

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  72.  
    identicon
    chris, Aug 1st, 2011 @ 12:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Still in favor

    When we find a law that conflicts with a right, we say that the law is unconstitutional, we don't say that the right must not exist.

     

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  73.  
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    nasch (profile), Aug 1st, 2011 @ 9:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Still in favor

    Killing anyone would be a tragedy but you still need to show that the action being taken is actually preventing such a tragedy.

    It's just physics, really. Momentum = 1/2 times mass times velocity squared. So the kinetic energy of a vehicle increases with the square of speed. There's only a certain amount of energy a car can absorb before transferring some to the occupants, so the more energy in a crash, the worse the injuries, above a certain threshold. So unless accidents become less and less likely at higher speed (something I'm sure you're not claiming), increased speed will tend, over time and all other things being equal, to result in more fatalities.

    There is a tradeoff between safety and convenience of course. I wouldn't want all our highways to have 30 mph speed limits, even though that would doubtless make them safer. If you believe the increased numbers of deaths from having no speed limits would be worth it, then I simply disagree with you.

     

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  74.  
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    Any Mouse (profile), Aug 2nd, 2011 @ 11:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Still in favor

    Driving is not an enumerated right. I don't see how you can call it one.

     

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  75.  
    identicon
    chris, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Still in favor

    So unless accidents become less and less likely at higher speed (something I'm sure you're not claiming)

    That *is* what I'm claiming, hence my reference to the safety record on the autobahn. Yes, obviously the individual accidents will be more severe. The fact is when people think they're near their limits, they tend to use extreme levels of concentration. When they think they're well below their limits, they do things like texting, adjusting the radio, looking away, etc.

     

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  76.  
    identicon
    chris, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Still in favor

    BTW, you technically gave the formula for kinetic energy, momentum is just mass * velocity. Just in case someone reads this site while doing their physics homework :)

     

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  77.  
    identicon
    chris, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Still in favor

    I think you're saying that rights don't exist unless explicitly stated in law. I'm saying that's just not true.

    Rights > Constitution > Law

    Think of cases where a law was declared unconstitutional. In those cases, a judge said that a person has a right to this or that and so the law was voided. If the judge would have come at it from the opposite side and said, well, the law says you can't do this or that so therefore you have no right to, then no law could ever be declared unconstitutional.

    Perhaps you mean the right to drive is not enumerated in the constitution. Well I've already covered that. While the it does state a handful of rights explicitly, it's main purpose is to list the rights granted to government. It is wrong to say that you only have the rights explicitly stated in the constitution. So how do you know what rights you have? You don't really; otherwise we wouldn't need so many lawyers. It's something you personally believe in and fight for.

    On a related note, what do you think about recent talks about a right to internet access? Because that's not stated anywhere either but many people are arguing that there is one.

    Before you think my position is too extreme, I want to say I do think the right to drive can be taken away under certain circumstances, just like many other rights. I just think people would be in a stronger position if it was considered a right.

    Since my comment on training started this whole thing, let me go back to that. It's been my experience that most licensing procedures make you go through a lot of red tape and bureaucracy while teaching you little. The drivers tests are so ridiculously easy so I question whether we need them at all. Now if everyone had to pass a performance driving test that might be different, but I just don't see that happening.

     

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  78.  
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    nasch (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Still in favor

    The fact is when people think they're near their limits, they tend to use extreme levels of concentration. When they think they're well below their limits, they do things like texting, adjusting the radio, looking away, etc.

    That's not very convincing unless you know of two countries (or states) that differ only in their speed limits, and are very similar in other respects: driver education, licensing requirements, traffic enforcement, average age of drivers, whatever else I'm forgetting. I don't think it's at all obvious that American drivers text and put on makeup while driving because the speed limit is low.

     

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  79.  
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    nasch (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Still in favor

    Now if everyone had to pass a performance driving test that might be different, but I just don't see that happening.

    +1 on that. Plus we could laugh at Youtube videos of people failing the test.

     

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  80.  
    identicon
    Robbed, Nov 9th, 2011 @ 4:09pm

    Re: Still in favor

    I lock up my brakes on yellow since I got scammed on a three second yellow. I am going to get hit from behind it's only a matter of time. Take your pro rip-off accident causing opinion an stick it up your union ass...

     

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


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