Banning Red Light Cameras, Anyone?


As the Denver Post's Kurtis Lee reports, a bill to prohibit red light cameras in Colorado is gaining some bipartisan momentum:

A proposal introduced in the Senate late last week would bar cities and counties from using automated vehicle-identification systems that pinpoint drivers committing traffic infractions.

Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, has introduced similar legislation the past two years, though unlike in previous sessions, he has strong support this go-round from House and Senate Democratic leadership.

"These cameras just create revenue for cities and don't actually increase public safety at our intersections," said Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, the bill's prime House sponsor. "I think we should be focused on making people safe, not raising money." [Pols emphasis]

As Lee reports, local governments are raking in millions in fines from relatively low-overhead automatic camera enforcement at intersections. Not surprisingly, the Colorado Municipal League doesn't like this bill one bit–though they cite the public safety considerations, not the revenue. At the end of the day, money talks: and the badly needed revenue these cameras provide may prove reason enough to keep them with no further debate needed.

What say you, Polsters? Red-light liberty, public safety, or cash?

22 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ModeratusModeratus says:

    It takes a true statist to defend the zombie cams.

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      When red light cameras are outlawed . . .

      . . . only outlaws will have red light cameras?!?

      (Hey, it's your effin' logic — I'm just applying it consistently . . . )


  2. ajb says:

    Lots of studies…

    This one looks good:

    Crash effects detected were consistent in direction with those found in many previous studies: decreased right-angle crashes and increased rear end ones. The economic analysis examined the extent to which the increase in rear end crashes negates the benefits for decreased right-angle crashes. There was indeed a modest aggregate crash cost benefit of RLC systems.

    So you trade one kind of accident for another. 

    This study from Texas says that there are more effective ways to increase safety;

    The study found that improving signal visibility reduced violations 25 percent. Other changes could net between 18 and 48 percent reductions. Yet they found when the yellow signal was 1 second shorter than the standard ITE timing formula specifies, red light violations jumped 110%. Extending the yellow an additional second yielded 53% reduction in violations, producing the greatest benefit of all the factors studied (2-6).

    When safety is the main concern, preventing crashes is more important than reducing violations. Yellow signal timing again proved most effective in reducing crashes. An extra second yielded a 40 percent collision reduction.

    The study also found that the vast majority of red light camera tickets are issued within the first second a light is red — in fact, the average ticket is issued when the light has been red for half a second or less. Yet right-angle crashes, which account for the majority of red-light related collisions, "with one exception, all of the right-angle crashes occurred after 5 seconds or more of red" (5-16). In other words, tickets are being issued primarily for split-second violations where collisions are not occurring.

    As a cyclist, I'd rather see cars run into each other than run into me. Most people survive car-on-car violence. Car-on-cyclist? Not so much. That said, I'm more interesteed in improved safety than revenue, so whatever works best. 

    • Robb says:

      Indeed. There are many more effective means to increase safety.

      Revenue from red light cameras is consistent and reliable enough to be attractive to municipalities — which says to anyone thinking about it that it doesn't change behavior, e.g. doesn't make anything safer.

  3. BlueCatBlueCat says:

    Modster will be so sad that he can't call you a "statist". I'm predicting few lefites will be taking up the defense of the red light camera as a lefty/statist battle cry. In general, most people, even lefties, don't like tickets, do approve of being nice to puppies and kittens. Shocking, I know.

  4. davebarnesdavebarnes says:

    Exist only to raise money. No safety purpose at all.

  5. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    As long as Colorado refuses to budge on TABOR limits, we'll continue to have these shyster revenue-raising schemes.

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      And that's the other side of the coin. Funds have to come from somewhere and the anti-tax fanatics have made funding for all kinds of things we need pretty scarce. I for one, trembling at the prospect of being called a "statist", whatever Modster means by that,  am more than willing to see the demise of red light cams.

  6. OrangeFreeOrangeFree says:

    A couple of notes:

    If these things are bringing in millions, shouldn't we be more concerned that there are enough people breaking the law to generate said millions?

    Anyone else find it odd that this bill has, after having been defeated numerous times in past sessions, all the sudden picks up steam now only AFTER it was exposed that several legislators – many of whom were caught by these cameras – aren't getting tickets?

    These cameras, as far as I'm aware, are really only at the busiest, most troublesome spots, especially in Denver. From where will the officers be pulled so they can now keep round the clock staffing at these spots? 

    As someone who's had to dart into traffic to get around people who have stopped way over the line, I don't mind people getting a little camera flash for being douchenozzles. 

    To summize – why is this an issue of major public importance? Are people really that pissed off that they got caught breaking the law that they now want to put a law in place to prevent them from getting caught breaking the law? 

  7. itlduso says:

    I got one turning left at Bowles and Santa Fe a few years ago.  The left hand turn signal went red before the through traffic even changed to yellow.  Ridiculous.  I later learned that others complained about it and it was fixed.  I didn't pay the ticket I got in the mail.  After the first letter, I sent subsequent letters back as undeliverable.

    Come get me, Coppers!

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