Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2008 9:38 pm
Location: Stratford, Ontario
Red-Light Cameras have been proven (in Ontario) to be ineffective as a safety system. It is a VERY good "taxation" system though.
A Letter-to-the-editor I wrote a few years ago:
NO to red-light cameras
Several days ago I read a Letter To The Editor written by Jim Flanagan who stated that all city intersections should be equipped with hidden and unannounced “Red Light” cameras. Mr. Flanagan implies that motorists identified and photographed under this program would have their vehicle impounded until a $1000 fine is paid.
Under section 31.2 of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) the maximum fine for failing to obey a red light (Section 18) is $500, and there is no mention of impoundment, therefore, it can’t be done. So to suggest that these $1000 dollar fines will handily fund this system is based on flawed research and ought not to be taken seriously by any member of council.
I have been driving daily in this city for 27 years, and frankly, I’ve never noticed this popular “pastime” which is being “condoned” (by Stratford Law Enforcement), as reported by Mr. Flanagan. In fact, I find the timing of the “yellows” to be generally consistent and predictable, and the overlapping red lights seem to add that extra margin of safety, should someone misjudge there approach.
But perhaps I’m biased by the fact that I still apply one of the most important tips my driver-ed teacher taught me: When a traffic light turns green, proceed “if safe to do so.” Unfortunately, the sections of the HTA pertaining to Green Lights, just state that motorists (and pedestrians) may proceed to cross when the light turns green. There’s no mention of checking for safety issues first. Too often, I see drivers and pedestrians alike, focused intently on the lights; waiting to launch into motion the instant they see “green.” Just look both ways first, and a tragedy could be easily avoided.
If we were to introduce red light cameras, the result would be a massive increase in rear end collisions due to people slamming on their brakes the second they see yellow. A government-sponsored program, which tested this system, established a 2% increase in deaths and injuries, and a 23.4% increase in property damage. Sure, the incidence of angle collisions decreased by 20.8%, but there was a 40.8% increase in rear end collisions. I’m willing to bet not too many drivers have their head rests adjusted properly, so the incident of whiplash will skyrocket. Often times, whiplash has life-long medical consequences. These figures just don’t warrant a “blitz” of cameras installed at our intersections.
In summary, Mr. Flanagan’s suggestions are not legally viable, affordable, or effective in preventing
accidents which are caused by red-light runners, and I hope council never spends one dime on studies for a proposed system. The data is already in, and it points clearly to an ineffective and dangerous system.
Instead, perhaps everyone can help lower the statistics, which states 30% of all accidents occur in intersections, by being more aware of others around you. If you’re at the front of the pack when the light is about to go green, look left and right before you leap into the danger zone.
Study Website: http://www.thenewspaper.com/rlc/docs/2003-ontario.pdf
(see pg. 21 for “final” statistical results)