And 6 other cities that are also using red light cameras have reported an increase of accidents up to 20%.
Do you think red light cameras are making our streets safer?
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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 Ã¢Â€ÂœRed LightÃ¢Â€Â 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 canÃ¢Â€Â™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, IÃ¢Â€Â™ve never noticed this popular Ã¢Â€ÂœpastimeÃ¢Â€Â which is being Ã¢Â€ÂœcondonedÃ¢Â€Â (by Stratford Law Enforcement), as reported by Mr. Flanagan. In fact, I find the timing of the Ã¢Â€ÂœyellowsÃ¢Â€Â 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 IÃ¢Â€Â™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 Ã¢Â€Âœif safe to do so.Ã¢Â€Â 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. ThereÃ¢Â€Â™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 Ã¢Â€Âœgreen.Ã¢Â€Â 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. IÃ¢Â€Â™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 donÃ¢Â€Â™t warrant a Ã¢Â€ÂœblitzÃ¢Â€Â of cameras installed at our intersections.
In summary, Mr. FlanaganÃ¢Â€Â™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 youÃ¢Â€Â™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 Ã¢Â€ÂœfinalÃ¢Â€Â statistical results)