The City of Santa Fe moves closer to installing red light camera's after a test done on November 17, 2006 at several Cerrillos Road intersections. As reported in our local daily papers a test was done in order to test the camera's effectiveness. As those who regularly read my blog know I have reservations about bringing the camera's to Santa Fe. Some of those reservations include:
National highway safety experts concur that the cameras cut crashes but the number of rear end accidents are going up in some areas as motorists slam on their brakes to avoid a crash, only to be struck from behind. In some cases a 50% increase in the number of accidents at a particular intersection have occurred where camera's have been installed. On the other hand the severity of the rear end collisions and injures are usually less then the side impact collisions which show a decrease when camera's are installed.
Here are three studies which shows that accidents increase at intersections with red light camera's due to motorists making abrupt stops in order to avoid the citation.
Maryland county's red light cameras net $2.85 million, increase accidents
Georgia: Accidents Increased with Red Light Cameras
Some studies show increases in injuries from the rear end collisions verses the red light running collisions.
The movement for these camera's is being developed by private company's with an intense profit motive. These company's have even been ensnared in bribery investigations in order to get cities to enact ordinances which allow the camera's. The company's charge up to 40% of the fine to provide equiptment, technical support and administer the program. Because of the high cost of administering the program the fines are set extremely high usually with entities using the excuse that the fines need to be high in order to be an effective deterrent. This leads to resentment from the citizens when they see the government entity (the City) raising large sums of money from the red light camera's. In Albuquerque the city has raised millions with the camera's and Speeding camera's and slowly there is resentment building from the community. On 770 KKOB Radio a few days ago the host Jim Villanucci was bragging about his photo blocker license plate cover while callers were complaining about "Mayor Marty Chavez's Money Making Scheme".
Up to 80% of the tickets issued from red light camera's can involve split second violations where the violator just missed the light and would not have been cited by a police officer who witnessed the violation as opposed to the camera which makes no distinction. There have even been reports of entities adjusting light timing in order to encourage citations. Because the citations do not go on your driving record and do not cause points on your license or cost you increased insurance rates there is not as much pressure to ensure accuracy.
Don't get me wrong there are a lot of good reasons to have red light cameras and I would not be as opposed to them if they were put in such a manner as to not be a revenue generating scheme and proper procedures were put in place to protest the citation, and the driver is photographed also to prove who was driving. I hope the City of Santa Fe considers these factors as they move ahead with this plan. Many cites and even one state has removed the camera's after using them for a year or two when they found they did not work, were not safe, or were not well received by the public.