The Des Moines Register looks at a year of red light revenue cameras:
City leaders today say the cameras must stay in place four more years before enough data can be collected to draw conclusions on the program’s impact and whether more cameras should be installed.
In the 12 months before the cameras went up, 25 accidents occurred in the lanes covered by devices. In the camera’s first year of operation, 21 accidents occurred.
The article says that the 9,196 red light cameras generated more than $540,000 in revenue. Even assuming the cameras were responsible for preventing four accidents in a period that included the most snow-free winter in years, that means they cost motorists $135,000 per accident prevented. That’s a lot more than a typical accident costs, even if both cars are totaled. From a cost-effectiveness measure, it’s a disaster. But if it were about anything but municipal revenue, the cameras would never have set up. If it were about anything other than municipal revenue, actual safety measures, like longer yellow cycles, would have been used.