[Editor's Note: This letter to the editor was written in response to Connecticut legislators' consideration of placing red light safety cameras at intersections. You can read about the legislation .]
We just returned to Connecticut from living in Los Angeles for over 20 years and experienced the implementation of red light cameras. In theory, the idea of catching red light runners and increasing safety with cameras at intersections while raising government revenue seems plausible.
In practice, not the case.
First and most costly: collateral damage -- the intimidation factor while approaching a light with a camera causes a variety of abnormal behaviors and leads to an increase in rear end accidents/injuries as motorists jam on their brakes as it turns yellow. Motorists in an intersection waiting to turn will panic and cause additional accidents.
Those are two obvious scenarios, there are more. Less obvious is the negative psychological effect at various levels. The Big Brother effect has deep implications which begin with fear, anger, and frustration, followed by avoidance of the area, and ultimately the potential for moving out of the area and/or the state. Do not underestimate the ramifications of loss of business, property values, and the fear of future government controls and loss of freedom.
Second, the courts will be swamped with motorists who dispute the ticket, and they are disputable. This is a massive waste of time and money for the motorists and the court. It is not cost effective for the state unless a predictable large number of tickets are issued and paid. Which means the vendors and operators of these cameras will set them up in such a way that revenue is maximized, meaning, speed limit alterations, yellow light variances and altered frequency of red light changes, for starters.
Third, the ticket prices must be high (in the multiple hundreds) to justify the costs associated with the program. The revenue gets divided up between a variety of entities. The state revenue justification is nonsense. Lastly, whomever is in power if/when this is implemented will not be come next election. It is a lose/lose proposition.