Cities that install red-light cameras like to claim they’re doing it “for safety”. But while you hear lots about the money, you almost never see any real safety statistics. Now Denver’s Auditor’s Office has ruled the city must prove red-light cameras improve safety or stop the program.
It’s all about honesty. If you’re doing it to raise money, just say so.
The various red light cameras the city has installed resulted in 27,000 tickets in their first year. But it’s not clear from the article whether or not accidents have decreased (the supposed reason for the cameras in the first place) or if the city is going to do better than break even. Complicating the economic aspect is the sad fact that only around 50% of the violators pay their fine. If they can’t exceed a certain amount collected, all of it goes to the company that owns the cameras.
Evan as Rochester installs more red light cameras, Los Angeles is considering removing theirs due to a lack of convincing data that they increase safety or make enough revenue to pay for themselves as supporters claim.
I’m all for safety, especially at intersections, but I’ve never seen how red light cameras help in that regard. Most of the problems I see are related to the inability of the traffic signals to adapt to traffic conditions. Traffic backs up in one direction, especially where there’s no turning arrow, and frustrated drivers fill the intersections making it impossible to exit under the green. We have the technology to do better, why don’t we?