Thursday, January 27, 2005

All Virginia red light camera studies show increased injury accidents

More bad news for friends of Big Brother -- their precious red light cameras that were supposed to generate so much revenue also turn out to generate more accidents. Via Instapundit, quoting
A brand new, exhaustive study of all seven Virginia red light camera programs shows an overall increase in injury accidents has occured where the devices are installed. The study was performed by The Virginia Transportation Research Council at the request of the state transportation secretary. The report also notes a fatal flaw in the Virginia's camera law -- motorists can ignore any ticket received in the mail. Only tickets that are personally served matter (the same thing happened in Arizona).

Despite a distinct sympathy in favor of camera enforcement, the researchers found a "definite" increase in rear-end accidents and only a "possible" decrease in angle accidents. Most importantly, the net effect was that more injuries happened after cameras are installed. Camera proponents explain this away by asserting angle accidents are more serious, but this claim has not been scientifically studied according to this report. The rear end collisions caused by the cameras still produce injuries -- the original promise of camera proponents was that they would reduce accidents and injuries, not rearrange them.

This study agrees with long-term findings in Australia and North Carolina.
The New York Times reported similar findings earlier this month. In Texas, the Houston City Council recently voted to install red light cameras at 50 locations citywide and start issuing tickets, but Houston-area legislator Gary Elkins has filed legislation to forbid the practice statewide. Grits posted
here about potential privacy concerns with the proliferation of cameras combined with Texas DPS' proposed database of biometric "facial recognition" data.