Letter: Response to 'Learn from LA'

This letter was submitted by David Kelly, president of the National Coalition for Safer Roads.

Justin Beck's Feb. 1 letter is filled with errors, hyperbole, and totally baseless claims.
First, Mr. Beck claims that red light safety cameras will somehow lead to "abnormal behavior" and "panic," thus causing more rear end other intersection accidents. The evidence shows exactly the opposite to be true.  
A recent Texas Transportation Institute study of 11,122 crash records from 275 intersections in Texas found 633 fewer crashes and a 32 percent decrease in right-angle crashes at intersections with red light safety cameras. The study also concluded that, "Evidence suggests that rear end crashes are not a result of the lead unit braking hard to avoid running a red signal and being struck from the rear." In other words, rear-end collisions occur because drivers follow the lead vehicle too closely or fail to control their speed, not because of the presence of red light safety cameras.
An even more powerful confirmation of how red light safety cameras positively affect traffic safety came in 2011 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety report. Researchers found that the rate of red-light running fatalities in 14 large U.S. cities with red-light safety cameras was 24 percent lower than it would have been without cameras in use. The finding translates to 159 lives saved in a five-year period. Had all 99 large U.S. cities used cameras, including cities in Connecticut, 815 deaths could have been prevented.
Mr. Beck's letter next claims vaguely defined "negative psychological effects" that will lead to people leaving the state, loss of business, and decreased property values. There is not a shred of evidence to substantiate this. To the contrary, there are currently some 555 communities in 24 states and the District of Columbia utilizing red light safety cameras to make their roads safer. There have been absolutely no reports or studies which have found "negative psychological effects" or lower property values do to red light safety cameras in any of these communities.
Finally, Mr. Beck claims that red light safety camera tickets must be "in the multiple hundreds" to pay for the cameras. The fact is that legislation in Connecticut has proposed a $124 ticket for red light running violations. Further, the vast majority of industry vendors pay for the installation and maintenance of red light safety cameras. Most contracts are based on a fixed fee, with no tie to the number of violations and have built-in safeguards to ensure that taxpayers are never left paying for the operation of the program.
Put simply, red light safety cameras work. They reduce serious accidents and save lives. The Connecticut legislature should give communities, if they so choose, the option to utilize this proven traffic safety technology.

Fairfield Resident February 04, 2012 at 09:34 PM
B.S. Mr. Kelly. http://abcnews.go.com/US/red-light-camera-backlash-cameras-causing-accidents/story?id=13925887 "According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nine states have banned red-light cameras. Several others have passed laws limiting the use of camera enforcement." "A 2005 federal study demonstrated that while injuries from right angle or T-bone crashes decreased by 16 percent at red-light camera intersections, injuries from rear-end collisions increased by 24 percent." "The final argument in the debate in Los Angeles may have already been decided by the courts. The courts have ruled that violations caught on a photo are unenforceable since there is no live witness to testify against an alleged offender."
Jim February 04, 2012 at 11:57 PM
The NCSR is the lobbying arm of ATS, the camera company. Mr. Kelly should have mentioned that his opinion is paid for. Who needs cameras, anyway? Cameras give a false sense of safety, because even with a $500 fine (Calif.) they don't stop the real late runs that occur when someone is lost, distracted or impaired. The mere presence of a camera can't stop the real late runs because the runners don't know (a tourist), or don't remember, that there's a camera up ahead. They're not doing it on purpose! The real late runners cause the accidents. To stop them, improve the visual cues that say "Intersection ahead." Florida's DOT found that pavement markings (paint!) cut running by up to 74%. Make the signals brighter, bigger, add backboards, and put the poles on the NEAR side of the intersection. Put brighter bulbs in the street lights at signals, and lighted name signs for the cross streets. The cues are cheap to do, so can be done citywide, unlike cameras which are expensive, ineffective against real late runners, increase rearenders, drive shoppers away, and send local money to Oz, AZ or Goldman-Sachs, never to return.
DreadfulDrivers February 05, 2012 at 02:42 AM
I don't believe late runs occur when someone is lost. That's not an excuse. Who doesn't notice stop lights coming up? Distracted drivers don't run red lights either, typically. People who are impaired, or more often impatient, do. And cues aren't going to stop those type of drivers. Cameras just might give the latter category something to think about though. @DreadfulDrivers
cheers February 06, 2012 at 03:38 PM
For the record, the following links will substantiate everything I said and more in my editorial. Notice what parts of my editorial Mr Kelly did not dispute - a telling revelation. http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jun/08/local/la-me-0608-red-light-20110607 http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/region_west_valley/peoria/peoria-turns-off-red-light-cameras http://warondriving.com/post/16875838390/red-light-camera-truth http://www.gazette.com/articles/cameras-131693-consider-denver.html http://warondriving.com/post/15042903265/fl-red-light-cameras http://www.motorists.org/red-light-cameras/objections http://www.motorists.org/red-light-cameras/increase-accidents http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/34/3413.asp http://www.desertdispatch.com/opinion/cameras-2877-red-safety.html http://www.mysuburbanlife.com/berwyn/topstories/x338367299/Berwyn-s-3rd-red-light-camera-criticized-by-residents-aldermen?zc_p=0 Justin Beck


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