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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Red Light Cameras: When Safety Takes A Back Seat

The red light camera industry is based on a nice sounding and politically sellable concept, but is really based on exacting a hidden tax on hapless drivers and their passengers. In fact, safety arguably takes a back seat to the allure of the money honey pot for financially irresponsible towns and cities all across America.

If you know where to look and which government offices to get public documents from, and have the tenacity to dig, you may find some interesting phrasing buried in some obtuse documents.

Lawyerly language, not exactly written in plain English, the better with which to argue the plausibility of multiple meanings to the eye of the beholder.

"Traffic safety cameras" are "seen as promoting a public good." Note the language; you don't read that traffic safety cameras "have been shown to reduce accidents," for example, or that they actually are saving lives and injuries. It isn't what is written; sometimes what's important is what is missing.  Don't get confused with the statistics about how many people are killed or injured because drivers run stop signs or red lights. That is a different statistic and that activity is the claimed reason for red light cameras. But where is the evidence to show that these cameras reduce red light violations? (Heck, anecdotal evidence suggests that drivers will "stop short" and overcompensate for the camera, but stopping short ends up causing accidents -- perhaps even more accidents -- as well.)

"Significant contributors of revenue to municipal budgets." Mind you, this is used as a key selling point as to how the underlying red light camera business line will be profitable, because buyers will generate revenue.

Some town mayors and councils stand to be embarrassed if it is ever revealed that they pushed to install red light cameras to raise more money from their residents.

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