Friday, August 13, 2010

Red-light cameras make intersections near my home more dangerous

I've lived in central East Austin for the past 20 years, so when the City of Austin installed red-light cameras the two closest to me (and through which I frequently pass) were at MLK/I-35 and 15th/I-35. And at both those intersections, it turns out, traffic accidents increased significantly after red-light cameras were installed. Reports News-8 Austin:
Austin public safety commissioners say there have been mixed results at intersections where red light traffic cameras were installed.

At seven of those intersections, the number of accidents has dropped. But at two intersections, authorities have actually seen a significant increase in crashes.

The intersection of MLK and I-35 has seen a 33 percent jump in the last year. The intersection of 15th Street and I-35 has had a 64 percent increase in crashes in nearly two years.

Safety leaders are looking at possible causes for the increases at those intersections, but they do say both are high traffic areas near the interstate.
Thanks for nothing, Austin City Council.

Is it any surprise that the intersection with a 64% increase in crashes was also one of the City's highest revenue generators? Somebody needs to check the yellow-light times at that intersection, which clearly need to be lengthened if it's getting so many tickets AND crashes.

Cameras at intersections where the number of accidents increased should be removed yesterday. What's more, the City should compile a list of everyone who had accidents at those intersections and send them an apology letter. I don't care if they were supposedly installed "to save lives," it was evident before the cameras went in they were mainly moneymakers that were likely to cause more accidents. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and in this case lined with government surveillance cameras.

See related Grits posts:


Anonymous said...

Causation... Correlation... what's the difference?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

You can say the same thing about claims that they REDUCE accidents, of course. If you can identify other variables that changed to explain the data, I'm open to alternative hypotheses.

Anonymous said...

another varable: lots of lawless people living in central/east Austin. btw - they took 'um down in the Hub.


Gritsforbreakfast said...

But Plato, did folks in East Austin become more "lawless" AFTER the red light cameras went up?

FWIW, my area of Austin has been gentrifying pretty quickly in the past 5-7 years. If you really wanted to see "lawless" you should have visited in 1991, when it made the code of conduct in the Old West look downright Victorian.

That's partially why I got into these issues: I lived in a high-crime area and too often the cops made things worse by treating everybody who lived here like a criminal. Meanwhile, back then about half the drug dealers in the area were working informants and even when people reported them nothing happened. Typically, if you called the cops they were more likely to investigate or arrest YOU! I quit calling the police in response to burglaries, for example, after two officers responded once and one of them maneuvered me to face the opposite direction while the other began to go through my mail - when I saw what he was doing I threw them both out.

Lawless, indeed!

Anonymous said...

Grits, I'd love to live in East Austin. Want to buy my house in Tulia? Rev. Charles

Anonymous said...

Vote them out! College Station voters caused the cameras to be removed. The cameras are nothing more than revenue generating tools for local government.

Retired 2004

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Retired, they're trying to vote them out in Houston, too, and they may get jerked around by slow counting and not put on the ballot. That's all playing out right now.

Rev Charles, Kathy'd probably fight you to the death over our house, at this point. Besides, as the Lounge Lizards wrote, "All my friends are buried here and some of them are dead, so home is where I'll always hang my head."

Anonymous said...

I live near a busy one myself in Dallas (Lovers & 75) but how can we as drivers change that? How about driving a little more carefully and (I know this is a stretch) obeying the traffic laws? I really don't have a problem with making the light runners pay and with everyone around me complaining that they got a ticket, it has certainly made me slow down and pay attention. I have also noticed that when questioned, everyone has noted that they went online and saw the video and they were guilty.....not happy but not dead either!!!

Anonymous said...

Interestingly enough, there's a camera looking contraption perched atop the only traffic light in Tulia, TX. It came in without any fanfare. Don't know whether it's producing any revenue or not. Don't really even know if it's a live camera. But I'll bet there hasn't been an accident at that intersection in the last ten years.
Grits, you don't think Kathy would want to just swap houses. Y'all could raise hell in Tulia. I've got too old to do that anymore.
Charles in tulia

Anonymous said...

The ones near my home make it safer. It's all a matter of perspective.

If you think that silly girl eye-balling the guy behind her and "making her run the redlight" is reason to disobey traffic signals and NOT PAY ATTENTION TO WHERE THE HELL SHE IS GOING then sure, you would probably think red light cameras are a bad thing.

Oh sorry, how dare anyone ask you to be bothered to interupt your self-important, busy-ass routine for a silly little thing like caring about other people's lives.

Post some stories about some pedestrians who died while crossing with the light in the crosswalk, or any other situation where some moron mowed them down. Maybe I'll get your point.

You can take your privacy and stick it where the sun don't shine. You know as well as anyone when you're out in public you have no "reasonable expectaction of privacy." I'd rather the idiots who think they can drive around on auto pilot get a financial penalty, and maybe some who don't deserve it, then to see one pedestrian mangled or dead over this nonsense.

Anonymous said...

I'd imagine that most of these accidents are cars being rear ended while actually stopping at the light before it turns red. A yellow light doesn't mean speed up and try to make the light. It's not the cameras causing this, it's the morons who can't be bothered to slow down and drive defensively. Something needs to be done. My worst fear for my family is getting broadsided at an intersection. Slow down you douchebag fucks!!

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:10

I really don't get why your point is so hard for others to grasp. I guess maybe it's because they've never been in a serious car accident and gotten touchy-feely with the bloody, decapitated corpse of a loved one.

Kinda changes your whole perspective on that defensive driving thing.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

7:10 thinks "Something needs to be done," but can think of nothing more constructive than to spew "Slow down you douchebag fucks!!," which immediately draws cheers from the always anonymous peanut gallery.

Luckily there are more thoughtful people in the world thinking about these problems.

Debbie Russell said...

12:51 am: pedestrians in this town that have been hit by cars have almost exclusively been hit by cars in between intersections. I crunched these numbers for a few years and found none that were killed while crossing at a crosswalk that had a cross signal.

Pedestrians being killed are crossing illegally in between intersections (they sometimes have little choice but to in circumstances where walking to an intersection is a good 1/2 mile).

Red light cameras haven't proven to save any pedestrians. Anywhere.

Fromthedoghouse said...

I don't trust the dang things. I see the flashes firing when no cars have run the red light all the time. Are the cameras taking pics? of what? Furthermore, how does one go about disputing an erroneous photo?

Anonymous said...

Revenue making for the state of Texas and helping turn this country into a police state.
Have you people ever watched the Alex Jones videos? Facial recognition....and so on. The town I live in said they were being installed at major intersections because of wrecks. Now I'm seeing them everywhere. The streets have potholes from hell but the city has more money for more cameras. That might be the reason I flip them off sometimes.