Red Light Cameras: Dissing Chief Porter? NOT.

More than a couple of people have said that they have taken my comments as seeming to belittle Chief Porter and his department, and applying dark motives to his request for RLCs.

Those comments misunderstand the three posts on Red Light Cameras, and the analysis of the Chief’s report, and also the breakdown on the green sheets prepared by staff for council.

As do many others, I like Chief Porter, I like him alot. He’s an amazingly affable guy. He and his Department have done great work. That work is recognized far and wide; outside agencies have given the DGPD awards and Chief Porter himself has been given special recognition and standing for his dedication and effort to make DG an ever-safer place to live.

I also think Chief Porter (and our Police Department), along with hundreds of other upstanding dedicated Chiefs of Police (and Police Departments across the nation), along with our staff (and staffs across the country), have been dissed by being intentionally misled, by the IIHS, by the use of highly tailored information on the topic of RLC .

This is especially baffling given the other work the same institute does on crash ratings and seatbelt safety. Richard Retting is called the father of red light cameras for a reason, and RLC suppliers will always say their product will save lives and reduce accidents. Police Departments across the country, with the best of intentions, have been misled into thinking RLC absolutely will make intersections safer, so of course they are for them; every Police Department strives for improvements in safety every day.

It’s a fact that there is no solid, statistically grounded evidence that supports the belief, the faith, that RLC improve intersection safety. That’s why all the links, so you can learn for yourself.

Here’s a couple more links that serve as examples of what I’m talking about: two studies in particular have been attacked by the IIHS.

Mark L. Burkey, Department of Economics and Transportation/Logistics, NCA&T State University, author of one of the most rigorously sound studies to date on RLC, makes no bones about it:

It is surprising that an institution such as the IIHS resorts to name-calling when a project reports data that go against their deeply-held beliefs. If there are valid limitations of our work, we made every effort to point them out in the report. We welcome any additional valid criticism and suggestions. However, Retting and Kyrychenko (R&K)’s comments admit to one of only two explanations: 1) They are purposefully distorting our methods, or 2) They did not read and understand the methods and careful robustness checks that were done.

You can read his original report here.

You can read the IIHS attack here.

You can read Burkey’s complete response here.

Barbara Langland-Orban, PhD is the Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management, University of South Florida. Her study not only summarized the current state of RLC, it went further and examined the motives behind the misinformation campaign of the IIHS, and bluntly called them out for their nation-wide, persistent misinformation campaign.

Finally, cities, counties, and the state should be very cautious in using traffic safety information from the automobile insurance industry. Insurance financial goals are to increase their revenues and profits, which do not necessarily include reducing traffic crashes, injuries or fatalities. Also, public policy should avoid conflicts of interest that enhance revenues for government and private interests at the risk of public safety.

In return, two IIHS proxies attacked the report.

The complete report is here.

The attacks, and the response from Dr. Langland-Orban are here.


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