Red Light Cameras Part 2: Not So Safe

The insurance industry, and the Red Light Camera (RLC) suppliers them selves lobby hard and long to get RLC put up wherever they can. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a front 100% funded by insurance companies, puts out reports that purport to show how RLC increase safety at intersections.

It ain’t about safety. RLC actually contribute to more accidents and more injuries.

The IIHS is the only organization to make such safety claims, and they vigorously attack reports that say otherwise, as well as personally attack the people who head up the research team, whether that be doctors compiling raw injury data, or PHD’s at the federally finded and staffed Transportation Research Board. Every time Richard Retting, head shill of the IIHS calls foul, he has been responded to, making public his lies and misinformations.

The IIHS has conned well over 100 communities into using RLC based on the misconception they increase safety. In most states, an automated traffic citation is a moving violation, a criminal offense. It goes on your record and raises your insurance rates. Currently, Illinois classes automated traffic violations a civil offense. A simple fine, no real court procedure, but no record that would raise your insurance. Would it surprise you to know the insurance industry is also fighting hard for your right to your day in court? Just make those tickets criminal moving offenses, and residents will have the protections of due process-and the resulting increase in your insurance rates. If we’re stupid enough to buy in to the safety con, why not the due process con I guess.

The Studies Concerning Red Light Cameras

Just to recap again to make this crystal clear:

On one side the red light camera companies have a website touting RLC make intersections safer, almost exclusively relying on

IIHS and all their reports. Tailored to weave a false support of increased safety due to RLC.

On the other side are government agencies, government funded research boards and organizations, federal and state DOT data collection, and international studies that all say RLC do not make intersections safer.

The Transportation Research Board, is one of six major divisions of the National Research Council (jointly administered by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine) and is funded by the state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation. They found what is found in many previous studies—a decrease in right-angle crashes and an increase in rear-end crashes—although both effects are somewhat lower than those reported in many sources.

The Australian Road Research Board, ARRB Group, is a public company whose members are federal, state and local government authorities in Australia, Australian Local Government Association and the national authorities of New Zealand. Thier ten year study of RLC intersection analysing data from the five years before and the five years after installation, shows RLC causes increases in rear end and adjacent approaches accidents on a before and after basis and also by comparison with the changes in accidents at intersection signals.

The WaPo study of DC’s RLC showed conclusively that, despite initial claims made by the Police Department (who relied on the IIHS) the number of accidents has gone up at intersections with the cameras. The increase is the same or worse than at traffic signals without the devices. Worse than doing nothing!

The Virginia Department of Transportation study conducted by the Virginia Transportation Reasearch Council found analysis indicated that the cameras were contributing to a definite increase in rear-end crashes, a possible decrease in angle crashes, a net decrease in injury crashes attributable to red light running, and an increase in total injury crashes.

The USDOT Federal Highway System study found a significant decrease in right-angle crashes was found, but there is also a significant increase in rear end crashes.

– The Florida Public Health Review did a multi-jurisdictional study that shows not only do RLC cause an increase in accidents and injuries, they went so far as to analyze and dissect the Oxnard Study, IIHS’ main “proof” that RLC help, and to put into a public publication the connection that while insurers may not set out to increase crashes and injuries, increases in crashes and injuries indirectly contribute to automobile insurance’s performance as a growth industry. Increases in crashes can raise the risk rating of drivers in a community, which can lead to disproportionately higher automobile insurance premiums, and, subsequently, rising profits for insurers.

The Transportation Institute North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University USDOT funded long term study concluded that the evidence points toward the installation of RLC as a detriment to safety.

thenewspaper.com, the self professed “A Journal of the politics of driving.”, has 38 pages of stories, many of them about the false statistics, data mis interpretation, and near universal expert and analytical conclusions that RLC do not make intersections safer.

Insurance Companies Say YES! Everyone else says, NO!!

Because the rigorous and robust studies conclude cameras are associated with increased crashes and costs, any economic analysis of cameras should include these newly generated costs to the public. Indirect costs to the public are usually not considered in the calculation of total revenues and profits generated from red light cameras.

The Infamous and Discredited Oxnard Study

The Oxnard California study that Retting and Kyrychenk did for the IIHS is the bedrock study for claims that RLC reduce accidents and injuries. The problem with the 1999 and 2001publications (essentially the same study written twice, and since called “multiple studies”) is that the study actually compared differences in crash and injury growth rates between intersections with and without traffic signals, and not between signalized intersections with and without cameras. A further criticism of this study is that the conclusions drawn from the statistical analysis were incorrectly reported. When the results were correctly analyzed for statistical significance, no change in total crashes could be substantiated (Burkey & Obeng, 2004; Kyrychenko & Retting, 2004).

Purpose of camera enforcement

Opponents of camera enforcement have made the claim that the purpose of camera enforcement is to make money, not to advance safety.

If ten Police Chiefs read the IIHS reports and accept that as gospel, it’s kind of like preaching to the choir: they want to beleive they can improve safety. “To Protect and Serve” or something like that, right? And the RLC companies are right there agreeing, yeah, safety. But it should be apparent by now that is just a smoke screen of deliberate misinformation that many smart people buy into. So if not safety, what IS it about?

One word: REVENUE.

In Part 3, some revenue reports RLC generate-or fail to generate-for theose who us ethem, and where that revenue actually comes from. Also in Part 3, the informational report staff is providing to council will get a once over, and you can see what’s what.

Later…

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