Anne Arundel Speed Cameras Increase Accidents, Revenue

$2.85 Million. That’s how much Anne Arundel County raked in off their speed cameras in the last five years.

Sadly, it also increased accidents by 40%. Are red light cameras really the answer if all they do is collect money for local governments? Am I the only one who wonders why the insurance industry doesn’t rise up in the night and come after the local governments for the losses caused by these cameras?

9 Comments so far

  1. Don (unregistered) on April 5th, 2006 @ 3:51 pm

    Your linked story buries the lead. “although there is early indication that the rate of serious accidents in intersections is falling.” Putting aside the fact that correlation does not imply causation, a decrease in t-bone accidents which on average cause higher property and person damage is worth an increase in rear-end accidents.

    Further, a temporary increase in accidents is better than a long-term behavior that causes accidents and does not change. And there’s no doubt that the cameras DO change behavior. From the same story: “In Snellville, for instance, a single camera system at one intersection produced 1,188 citations in its first two weeks of operation. In February, with three camera systems clicking at three intersections, the city issued only 1,680 citations, according to numbers supplied by Snellville Municipal Court.”

  2. Seen_it_all (unregistered) on April 5th, 2006 @ 4:20 pm

    Even though I hate being caught by those red light cameras, I know that once caught, I try not to do it again the next time. So I do agree with Don’s quote from that article that behavior does change.

    It is really not worth the pain and suffering, should there be an accident. AND the worse is that I have seen lots of people running red lights when the lights have been red for more than 5 seconds at intersections where cameras at not present.

    Driving behavior in general just seems to have gotten worse.

  3. Stacey (unregistered) on April 5th, 2006 @ 4:28 pm

    Knock, knock. Big Brother here.

  4. Tiff (unregistered) on April 5th, 2006 @ 5:56 pm

    Agreed, Stacey. I don’t believe local governments who promise only to ever use cameras to catch traffic violators any more than I believe the federal government when it says, “But we’re only wiretapping terrorists without warrants, we promise!”

  5. wayan (unregistered) on April 5th, 2006 @ 10:16 pm

    Like this is even worth a debate!
    1) Running a red light is a citation-worthy offense that is very dangerous to self and others
    2) You either run it or you don’t – a binary act with no grey area
    3) There is no presumption of privacy while driving – even the ACLU agrees with that

    So no matter if it doesn’t save lives or only generates revenue, if you run a red light, you should get a ticket. And a camera is way more impartial than a traffic cop.

    Now a better debate is if we need all these red lights, if they should last so long, or if we feel we need to be somewhere so badly that risking a T-bone or dead pedestrian it worth the two minutes saved.

  6. Don (unregistered) on April 5th, 2006 @ 11:12 pm

    Piffle on big brother – that doesn’t even qualify as an argument, just a boogyman – and piffle on the somewhat better qualified but equally misguided concern about misuse of red light cams.

    UNLIKE surveilance cams which I do not approve of, red light cams only fire when an offense is committed. If you’ve ever seen the disco-fest of lights that is them flashing when they fire off you know this. The good ones also shoot more than just your plate – you get a nice little wallet photo of the driver, allowing for reasonable challenges, just as you can challenge the calibration of a radar gun.

    The only notable difference in the equation is whether a cop pulls you over and hands you a ticket or you get it in the mail. We already allow for the detection and later charging of crimes that are discovered electronically. If you don’t believe me, pick up the phone, call your Senator’s office after-hours and leave a threatening message. I’ll lay good odds you get a visit from law enforcement. Make a bogus 911 call. You’ll be speaking to a dispatcher, not an officer, but I assure you you’ll meet one soon.

    You’re using internal combustion technology to commit the offense and ignoring other technology IS the offense. Having yet another bit of technology detect you doing it doesn’t even register on the radar (ha ha) of this card-carrying member of the ACLU.

  7. Tiff (unregistered) on April 6th, 2006 @ 8:57 am

    So… who told you that the red light cams only fire when someone is violating the red light? The government? Bush tells me they’re only wiretapping the phones of terrorists.

    Do you really think the cameras couldn’t be quietly modified to snap photos at other times? After all, we’ve already rolled over and let them put the cameras there at all. It’s still warrantless surveillance, and the difference is only one of degree.

  8. Don (unregistered) on April 6th, 2006 @ 11:02 am

    While I have issues with surveilance, I can’t justify getting wound up over this for a couple of reasons. The most significant on being, we have no reasonable expectation to privacy in public. Take a few minutes looking though some photographer rights & applicable laws and you find that both Joe Schmoe and your local government have a right to take your picture as you boogie down the road. If the crux of your objection is that these may be used to play lookie-loo at you at other times then you need to just get over it or lobby your lawmaker.

    Comparisons to warrantless listening aren’t really reasonable; you have a legal basis for an expectation of privacy on the phone.

  9. Cant_picture_it (unregistered) on April 6th, 2006 @ 4:43 pm

    I agree with Wayan, the point isn’t about privacy or a new method of revenue generation for the county. You run a red light – it’s against the law. When you break the law, there should be consequences and a device like a red-light camera is pretty objective (unless someone can prove to me that they only take pics of cars owned by blacks, hispanics or asians).

    The reason for traffic signals is to keep order and when someone doesn’t respect that, then that causes chaos, destruction and sadly in many instances, death.

    I don’t agree with the argument that one’s civil liberties should supercede the value of one’s life. If red-light cameras change the behavior of drivers, then it is worth having it when it reduces the number of deaths or accidents.

    In the end, is getting somewhere a few seconds late is really worth the life of someone who could have had 50 years of extra time to be with their son/daughter, husband/wife, and father/mother?

    Let’s put this in perspective.

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