Friday, October 14, 2005

It's Still About Revenue, Not Safety

I turned on the Ernie Brown show yesterday when he was discussing a recent article in the Washington Post which confirmed what a lot of us had been suspecting all along: Red-light cameras installed at intersections tend to make accidents increase, not decrease:
The District's red-light cameras have generated more than 500,000 violations and $32 million in fines over the past six years. City officials credit them with making busy roads safer.

But a Washington Post analysis of crash statistics shows that the number of accidents has gone up at intersections with the cameras. The increase is the same or worse than at traffic signals without the devices.

Three outside traffic specialists independently reviewed the data and said they were surprised by the results. Their conclusion: The cameras do not appear to be making any difference in preventing injuries or collisions.
(More analysis here.)
C'mon, guys, we're onto you now. It's not about safety, and it never has been. It's all about revenue, and that's a pretty dishonest way to generate that extra cash for your municipality. All they would have to do is simply shorten the yellow lights a little bit, and...ka-ching!--extra green in the city coffers. It's not making anything that much safer (at most, it's changing the type of accidents--more people getting rear-ended, for example), and it's just making the city government look greedy.
Lon Anderson, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said the data reinforce the motor club's view that the red-light effort is targeted more at generating revenue than at reducing crashes. "They are making a heck of a lot of money, and they are picking the motorists' pockets on the pretense of safety," he said.
I've posted on this subject before, mostly because I live in a city that uses the cameras, and also because I was rear-ended at an intersection last year--one at which I might have gone through a yellow light if the city's usage of red-light cameras hadn't been in the back of my mind. I'm happy to update on any developments that reinforce the wrong-headedness of this policy, in the hopes that someday these mutant cash cows will go away here at home.

Quite a find: A rare manuscript by Beethoven, done in his own hand, was found this week in a cabinet in the library of a seminary outside Philadelphia.

Things that make you go "huh?": Last week, the Oakland A's ousted their manager, Ken Macha, supposedly because they wanted to "move in a different direction." Today, they announced that he's now un-fired and, for that matter, signed to a three-year deal.

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