Because your safety is the most important thing.

August 19th, 2013 by Joe Kristan



The Des Moines Register reports:  Wrecks are up at Clive intersections monitored by red-light cameras.  But accidents citywide are down in ’12 compared with ’08, council learns.

Clive last week resumed its revenue camera program, on the grounds that the municipality needed the money.  Apparently that’s true even at a cost in safety:

A review of data provided the council shows:

• Twenty-six accidents occurred at red-light camera intersections in 2012; 13 occurred in 2008.

• Six personal injury accidents occurred at the red-light intersections in 2012; three occurred in 2008. No fatalities occurred over the period.

• Citywide, accidents overall have decreased. In 2012, there were 244 property damage accidents, compared with 330 in 2008.

• Eighty-six personal injury accidents occurred citywide in 2012; in 2008, there were 91.

That apparently doesn’t mean anything:

Evaluating the effectiveness of the red-light camera program based on the number of accidents at camera intersections would be misguided, Police Chief Michael Venema said. “What I caution people is — you’re talking about a very small sample size,” he said.

It’s funny how small sample sizes weren’t mentioned when Des Moines police released cherry-picked data that seemed to show the cameras reduced accidents.  I guess sample reliability varies based on the results you want.

There’s no doubt that red light cameras would never have been tried if they didn’t have the potential to make money for municipalities.  Arguments that they are for safety would have more credibility if they were trying other approaches, like longer yellows, all-red phases, and traffic circles, and comparing the results.  As it is, they are really a tax on right turns on red.