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Transportation Government Privacy

Denver Must Prove Red-Light Cameras Improve Safety 433

Posted by timothy
from the welcome-to-the-red-light-district dept.
An anonymous reader writes "An audit of accidents at Denver intersections where red light cameras were installed versus increasing the length of the yellow light shows little difference in the results. In a case of putting the public ahead of the corporation, the Denver auditor is recommending canceling the red light camera program unless the city can prove a public-safety benefit." I hope that private citizens offering analysis or recommendations are treated fairly.
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Denver Must Prove Red-Light Cameras Improve Safety

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  • by AdrianKemp (1988748) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @09:36AM (#38434162)

    I know here in Canada and in all the places I've been in the US yellows are plenty long.

    The issue is assholes entering the intersection to turn left when it isn't clear, people refusing to stop when the light does turn yellow, etc.

    I'd actually want to see a very clear causal link between longer yellows and safety increases, because my gut tells me longer yellows would make people ignore them even more.

  • Re:Changed my mind (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @09:40AM (#38434226)

    Perhaps the increase number of such crashes will educate those few extra people into not following the car in front at a distance of just 0.5cm, not distracting themselves with their radio, cigarette, makeup application etc. or... heaven forbid... perhaps taking another form of transport instead.

  • by captbob2002 (411323) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @09:41AM (#38434248)
    That's what I see. Longer yellow lights, more people running them because they know the yellow is longer, so let's make the yellow even longer...Hey, here is a thought, if you don't want a ticket, don't run the damn light. Trouble stopping when the light changes? maybe you ought to have been driving the speed limit - and not chatting on your phone.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @09:42AM (#38434254) Journal

    Notice how no one went to jail for any of that. It's almost as if corruption were permitted in the US.

  • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @09:44AM (#38434284) Journal

    Is there any where in the world where it isn't, in practice, permitted.

    As long as you aren't caught by the right people, go for it!

  • by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @09:48AM (#38434348) Homepage Journal

    As a EU citizen I understand americans hate regulations. But would this not be a thing that should be covered by law? I mean ... what the fuck? In your country a city can decide how long the traffic light is yellwo, that sounds pretty retarded to me.
    In germany the duration of yellow depends on the speed limit of the affected road.

  • by OzPeter (195038) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @09:50AM (#38434376)

    My reading of the stats in the TFA is that the rate front to side impacts have decreased 5 times for read light cameras compared with a rate decrease of less than 2 for yellow light extension. Being T-boned at an intersection by a red light runner is far more dangerous than being rear ended by someone not stopping soon enough because they didn't see the light change. So I'd hardly call the change in accident rates a "little difference". Sure injury reduction has been about the same and front to rear is slightly better for the yellow light extension, but I'd hardly call that conclusive.

    It astounds me that in the US red light cameras are so reviled. I am continually scared when facing a green light at an intersection and then having some one drive through the red light from my left to right. These people are trying to kill me. So supporting a system that lets them get away with it is nonsensical.

  • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @09:51AM (#38434402)

    ....until the light turns yellow, and oncoming drivers continue to pass through the intersection. Oh no, the light is now red, there is intersecting traffic, and youre blocking one of the traffic lanes. At this point you can either do a really dangerous left turn, or remain blocking the traffic, or try to back up (assuming people havent filled in behind you.

    Entering the intersection makes sense when you can see an opening coming shortly, but if there is a line of traffic entering the intersection to make a left turn is just going to make traffic worse and create a dangerous situation.

  • by stomv (80392) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @09:52AM (#38434412) Homepage

    According to the law*, a yellow light is to be treated as a red light *if* the vehicle can safely stop. Only if you can't safely stop at a yellow are you to proceed.

    Naturally, if folks are driving the posted speed limit, it's far easier to stop at a yellow, because stopping distance increases quite a bit when your speed goes from 30 mph to 35 to 40 to 45. We can bicker about speed limits on the interstate all day long, but local road speed limits are much more important to get right, because you've got pedestrians, cyclists, autos pulling in and out of driveways, right on red at intersections, etc. Stopping distance is really important. Do a better job enforcing local speed limits, and you'll find that folks are less likely to drive through a yellow (or "orange") light, improving safety for everyone.

    The other part is this. Plenty of folks treat a yellow as green. Always. Lengthen the yellow, and folks get a feel for the longer length... and will continue to just plough through it as if it were green. Once folks re-calibrate, you've got a worse situation, because people will see a yellow and be even more inclined to accelerate.

    There's no need to lengthen the yellow. We need to enforce local speed limit laws.

      * all vary state to state, but this is generally speaking the case

  • So you'd rather have someone slam on their brakes so that you rear-end their car and are immediately at fault ?
  • Re:Changed my mind (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordLimecat (1103839) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @09:53AM (#38434432)

    Folks would brake suddenly when they saw the camera causing the vehicle behind them to rear-end them.

    Nothing the driver in front of you does should result in you crashing into him. That is why there is a two second rule for following, and laws against tailgating. Ive had someone yell at me because they hit me when I slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting a line of cars. Guess what, she lost that battle when they admitted I was in front of them, and she admitted that she only had half a second to respond.

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @09:54AM (#38434446)

    From the article it appears that the number of injuries at the intersection have actually declined since the introduction of the red-light camera. Front-to-side collisions are down and these are caused by the driver running the red light. These collisions are more dangerous than the front-to-rear collision since the vehicle directly enters the passenger area at a potentially higher speed.

    Rear-to-front collisions are caused by the driver tailgating and these in general are due to him not being able to stop in time and the collision are at a much lower speed and do not directly enter the passenger compartment. The data provided in the article reenforces this hypothesis since there were 53 injuries prior to the cameras installation and only 18 afterwards. This is despite the gain of 1 front-to-rear accident.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @09:54AM (#38434452)

    If it's everywhere, I guess it's just fine that it's permitted in the US.

    Do people really think like this? What's wrong with them?

  • by AdrianKemp (1988748) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @09:58AM (#38434504)

    You should never be so close to the car in front of you that this happens. If you are, you absolutely are at fault.

  • by Wingsy (761354) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @09:58AM (#38434514)
    How about increasing the delay between red in your direction to green for the cross traffic, so if someone does run the red there will be a couple extra seconds before cross traffic starts to flow.

    While we're at it let's remove what I call "Stupid stoplights", that do nothing but waste gas. How many times have you sat at a red light with NO cross traffic for 30 seconds or more.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:01AM (#38434554)

    You seem to be basing your conclusions on your own intuitions, rather than on statistical data. The auditor mentioned in the summary cites actual observed factual data that correlates longer yellows with fewer accidents.

    Reason is fine, but fact is finer.

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:03AM (#38434590) Homepage

    What's wrong is that they live in hope that one day, somehow, they'll cross the line and be on that gravy train full of free money.

    In America it's called "The American Dream". It's why things like the outrage against wall street and the bankers is a few people in tents when it should really have far more pitchforks, lynchings and burning mansions.

  • by OzPeter (195038) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:07AM (#38434658)

    As a EU citizen I understand americans hate regulations. But would this not be a thing that should be covered by law? I mean ... what the fuck? In your country a city can decide how long the traffic light is yellwo

    (I know I will probably be modded into oblivion for this) As a foreigner living in the US I know exactly where you are coming from. This place takes parochialism to the extreme. From bottom to top its city vs county vs state vs federal. Everything is focussed on the smallest possible sphere of influence rather than looking at the bigger picture - which creates the situation where traffic laws are controlled (capriciously) by the local community rather than adhering to well thought out standards. Its the whole "we want to be free and do what we want to do without being controlled by someone else" mindset. I'm not going to say that this mindset is always bad, but it does leave you scratching your head over things like locally controlled yellow light times. One of my favourite examples of parochialism is that years ago I saw a letter in the Pittsburgh paper complaining that the team members of the Pittsburgh Steelers were denying the city of Pittsburgh valuable tax dollars by having the temerity to reside in county rather than in the city itself.

  • by g0bshiTe (596213) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:20AM (#38434844)
    It is as long as there is a bracketed letter behind your name.
  • by alexo (9335) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:31AM (#38435018) Journal

    Notice how no one went to jail for any of that. It's almost as if corruption were permitted in the US.

    Corruption is not permitted in the US. It is encouraged.

  • by mr1911 (1942298) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:40AM (#38435160)

    An observant person might think they wanted people running red lights.

    A realist might think they wanted people running red lights.

    Anyone capable of rational thought might think they wanted people running red lights.

    Fixed that for you. Take your pick.

  • by bondsbw (888959) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:41AM (#38435176)

    The problem isn't fault, it's the consequences of a collision. Even a minor crash can result in injury, and thousands of dollars of damage and medical bills during a recession economy. Even if insurance covers you, your rates may increase.

    Now add in the camera fines. Most cities get a small cut of the fines, typically not enough to cover court costs on all the cases that get thrown out.

    The camera vendor is the only one to make money in this deal. Profits get larger by convincing the city to decrease yellow times, and by manipulating the cameras to catch people who were behind the line by inches but posed no danger.

    The economy suffers in order to make a government vendor rich... is that what we want?

  • Re:Changed my mind (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bondsbw (888959) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:45AM (#38435232)

    But knowing that drivers do what they do, are you willing to risk a collision (and your safety, along with your passengers' safety) when you see someone is following too closely? Or would you risk the ticket? What if the person behind you is underinsured?

    You're right legally. But legality != reality.

  • by Galestar (1473827) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:48AM (#38435270)
    Mod parent up. He is correct that OP is a moron. I'm from Canada as well, and that is indeed how its done.
    The law is that you cannot enter the intersection on a red. If you are already there, you must clear the intersection.
    Also... as far as this...

    I *have* driven in an area where left turns on red are "illegal" (Philadelphia) and they aren't really illegal as far as I can tell. Instead, the left turn lights turn RED after they give you an opportunity to do a protected left turn. Notice that in the first paragraph I mention the driver must have a green light when they enter...

    We have those in Ontario too. I know of several in my city - all are where there are 2 left hand turn lanes. You get an advance, and then a red.

  • by maxwellmath (2453528) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:53AM (#38435342)
    When it comes to safety, we should never play the blame game. It does not matter who is at fault, what matters is people being safe. The fact is that we need to do what we can to ensure safety. People will do what people always do -- that is they will do stuipd and dangerous things. I work in industrial automation designing machines. Whenever we design something, we do our best to think of every stuipd thing that the machine operator will try to do. We look at ways they might try to reach into a machine to grab a part, or places where they may try to get too close to a moving machine and every other idiotic thing they try to do.. Then we try to come up with some way to ensure that they can't do those things or at least that the machine will shut off if they do. Yes, it is stupid for them to do these things, yes it may be their "fault" if they get injured, but the fact is that people do these things anyways and we have a responsibility to try and ensure that they keep safe. I never want to see anyone get injured on a machine that I designed. This situation with traffic cameras is no different. People should not be following the car in front of them too closely, but they do. If using cameras causes people to rear end eachother more often (regardless of who is at fault), then we should not be using them.
  • by harl (84412) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:59AM (#38435484)
    That's not an Yankee problem. It's the same every where. There's no accountability as long as they turn a profit.

    If a corporation does something there is no way to punish them. A person can go to jail. There is no equal punishment for a corporation. They have all the advantages a person does but none of the downsides.

    If a corporation had to stop all business for say 4 months as punishment then you'd start to see ethics in corporations. However this would never happen because no politician wants to deal with the blow back of putting that many people out of work.
  • by Inda (580031) <slash.20.inda@spamgourmet.com> on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:21AM (#38435792) Journal
    So drive slower.

    "there's ice on the road and I think I'll drive at 100mph" - only an idiot would say that.

    Only drive as fast as the road conditions allow - this is bascially the law in the UK. Don't follow that law; expect to get punished for dangerous driving or driving without due care and attention.

    We have speed limits here too. They aren't a target speed. You do not have to drive at the national speed limit, only under it.
  • by iceaxe (18903) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:39AM (#38436046) Journal

    In Uhmurrica we live the Ferengi Dream.

    "You don't understand. Ferengi workers don't want to stop the exploitation, we want to find a way to become the exploiters." - Rom

  • by sjames (1099) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:46AM (#38436166) Homepage

    If braking didn't involve inertia and human reaction time, you'd be right. A light needs to be yellow long enough for the driver to see it, decide if they can safely stop before entering the intersection, and then do so. If the yellow is shorter than that, even a perfect driver will inevitably "run the red" from time to time. Shorten it enough and even an automated driver with perfect reaction would run the light from time to time based solely on statistics and the laws of physics.

    Consider a 1 microsecond yellow and it flickers when you are 1 foot from the line doing 45 MPH.

    This is well understood by traffic engineers and so there are guidelines for the minimum safe length of a yellow. Cities with red light cameras almost always end up with yellows shorter than that.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:52AM (#38436258) Homepage

    Penalizing all stockholders for the crimes of others is hardly fair.

    Oh, heaven forbid we penalize the stock-holders ... oh no, that would be horrible.

    Look, if the only way to punish a corporation is to hurt their bottom line, then I'm all for it. Because otherwise companies will just keep doing anything they want with no consequences whatsoever.

    If you can't slap a company with a huge fine which hurts their bottom line, what can you do to punish them? A stern talking to won't work.

    Criminals should not be able to avoid consequences by hiding behind legal incorporation.

    Why not? That's practically what legal incorporation means ... it's a separate legal entity, which apparently now is a person with free speech, and which limits individual liability.

    So except for the most egregious stuff (which is usually financial shenanigans -- again, it's all about the stockholder) there is almost no chance of someone being held criminally responsible for the actions of a corporation.

    If a bunch of individuals decide to do something criminal on behalf of the company, you pretty much need to punish the corporation so there is an understanding that they need to play by the rules as well.

    In some extreme cases you might be able to hold individuals criminally responsible, but letting the stockholders and the company off without any punishment only encourages them to act like assholes -- something they already do much of the time anyway.

    I'm sorry, but if a company decides to use ground, rabid squirrel as an additive to their pepperoni, I fail to see why the corporation shouldn't be penalized; and if that means the stockholders get penalized, well, then they can tell the people who run the company they're not happy.

    If you want to get paid for the company successes, you also own a share in their wrongdoings and misfortunes.

  • by harl (84412) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:56AM (#38436310)
    So you're saying people who fund and drive criminal activity but don't directly get their hands dirty are just fine.

    You have no problem with someone ordering a murder? Just the person who actually does it?
  • by Quirkz (1206400) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @12:56PM (#38437184) Homepage

    So you're saying people who fund and drive criminal activity but don't directly get their hands dirty are just fine. You have no problem with someone ordering a murder? Just the person who actually does it?

    Owning a mutual fund is now equivalent to ordering a murder? Man, gotta love slashdot logic.

  • by scot4875 (542869) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @01:07PM (#38437358) Homepage

    Umm, quite possibly, if one of the companies held by the mutual fund does their risk analysis and finds that probability of death * cost of death profit, then yes, it's basically murder.

    But that's not really the point anyway. If you buy into a mutual fund that holds stock for a company that profits from fraud, and you profited from that fraud, you should take part of the hit when (or, more likely, *if*) the fraud is discovered.

    --Jeremy

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