Holman Jenkins, writing in the Wall Street Journal, has one of the best arguments against red light cameras I have ever read. Check it out here.
In essence, he says that studies have shown that only about eight percent of all traffic accidents are due to running red lights or speeding. The rest (Taking out drinking) are due to inattention on the part of the driver. His point is that these suckers are there to enable the cities to collect revenue, not to make the streets safer.
His point is made by this: It seems that if you extent the yellow light one or two seconds, the vast majority of people running red lights goes away. It’s the fact that yellows are set to the state mandated minimum (three seconds) rather than four or five that catch folks. If you had just a bit more time to either go through the light or to stop, the problem goes away.
His proof? Cities where cameras are installed have reduced the yellow to three seconds because they know more people will be caught. Read the article. I think you may be convinced.
As for the big problem at intersections, the “T” bone accidents where people are maimed or killed. I’m not certain that cameras really stop that. Person running lights at 50 miles an hour are going to do it, ticket, camera, or fine. It has also been shown that people slamming on the brakes when they see a red light camera actually cause rear end collisions.
So, if you wanted to make intersections safer, extend the yellow a second. No cost. But no revenue.
Jenkins also comments that in the UK, they have so many traffic cameras that every trip by every person is on tape somewhere. Frankly, I would just as soon my every move isn’t recorded for posterity, or datamining.