Who needs red-light cameras? Nobody
Where's the problem? Fatalities from red-light violations comprise a mere 2 percent of all U.S fatalities (about 925 of 43,000).
- Greg Mauz
- Special to the Sentinel
- September 17, 2008
Florida -- without cameras placed at intersections -- has recorded the greatest decline in red-light-violation fatalities in the nation. From 1996-2000, there were 618 fatal crashes from red-light violations versus only 493 from 2001-2005 -- 125 fewer for a 20 percent decline.
Consider also that Florida recorded this improvement while gaining 3 million more drivers. Injuries also dropped more than 10 percent. There is no "safety epidemic," as camera promoters have stated. So why is Orlando installing red-light-ticket cameras at selected intersections?
Ticket cameras violate due-process rights (not privacy), including the right to face your accuser, burden-of-proof issues and right to a fair trial. U.S. mail provides inadequate notification of the violations, and there's no guaranteed delivery. At least 29 percent of vehicle owners ticketed are not the drivers of the car, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, yet they are forced to pay the fine.
A recent poll by MSNBC recorded 62 percent against red-light-ticket cameras among more than 40,000 people who responded. The National Motorists Association, Florida Civil Rights Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Florida Department of Transportation and the Legislature reject ticket cameras for various reasons.
In addition to the lack of an honest need, rights violations, extortion of money from innocent people and the lack of public support, ticket cameras usurp more than 70 percent of the public's money from red-light violations less than one second into the red light. These are not "dangerous red-light runners" but folks who honestly mistimed an often unethically short yellow light. Honest cops do not ticket these invisible violations. Camera enforcement's latest scam involves ticketing people for legal right turns on red.
More than 90 percent of severe Florida red-light-violation crashes result from three main factors: driving while intoxicated, attending to emergencies and not paying attention. None of these behaviors or crashes is preventable by using ticket cameras. Promoter statements that cameras save lives are completely absurd.
As a traffic-safety researcher for 22 years, I have written three objective, comprehensive reports on photo enforcement. "Camera Enforcement: A Picture of Fraud" (52 pages at motorists.org/mauz.php) proves from seven different analyses that the cameras cause more crashes, injuries and fatalities. More than 20 other studies support this conclusion.
Camera promoters claim that rear-end crashes are few, minor and a trade-off with fewer red-light-violation crashes. All deceptions. Rear-end crashes increase, on average, 70 percent with many whiplash and back injuries and some fatalities. This trend of increased rear-end crashes lasts for years and overall injuries rise significantly. In fact, rear-end and all U.S. signal-related deaths have increased since the proliferation of cameras in U.S. cities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Real solutions to improving signal-related traffic safety include: banning ticket cameras, making engineering improvements (including longer yellow lights), enforcing DUI violations, reducing police chases, equipping emergency vehicles with light changers and offering more-comprehensive driver education to encourage paying attention behind the wheel.
Those who endorse ticket cameras are placing government/corporate power and money above human rights and safety. And that's not a pretty picture.
Greg Mauz of Christoval, Texas, is a traffic-safety researcher who formerly lived in South Florida.
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