25 February 2013

Another One Bites The Dust

Red light cameras are supposed to save us from ourselves.  They are supposed to decrease red light running and hence decrease collisions, but it just doesn't work that way.  It's just another wonderful theory mugged by reality. ( I explain why this might be so in an earlier post). 

The latest rude awakening is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where two intersections have been data-mined for ten years: five years BCE (Before Camera Era) and five years after (ACI).    And guess what?  Collisions and injuries went up after the red snappers were hoisted.  The theory also posits that t-bone type angle collisions will go down.  They stayed the same. 

Since the cameras were installed in June and September of 2005, some seventy thousand tickets have been issued, amounting to seven million dollars, plucked from drivers and transferred to city hall, the state, and ATS.

Let's do some math, here.  Instead of increasing by fifteen percent, let's imagine that the accidents decreased by fifteen percent.   One intersection, at Grant Avenue and Roosevelt Blvd. in the five years prior to Camera-geddon saw 138 collisions.  A fifteen percent decrease would come to 117 accidents, or 21 fewer accidents in our fairytale world. 

That same intersection generated 4.2 million dollars in ticket revenue in five years.  So we divide the 4.2 million by the imaginary 21 accidents and we get $200,000 per accident.  That would be the cost per accident prevented if the cameras really worked.  Does anyone think that's a good use of funds?  Maybe if it was your granny who avoided being a bumpercar and it wasn't your cash.

Now let's jump back to the real world, where all that money is sirloined out of us, and the optical peeping toms make things worse by fifteen-to-twenty percent.  And our fearless leaders still think it's a good idea?  Hmmmmm.

Consider that the City of Brotherly Love actually hired a lobbying firm to cajole state lawmakers to let them keep their cameras.  And, get this, the state doesn't want the accident figures to get out.  It is against the law for agencies to share such information with the public.  Hmmmmm.  I guess the facts just confuse us bumpkins.   Go here for the story:  Philly Phlash 

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