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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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  • I Seem To Recall (Score:5, Informative)

    by sycodon (149926) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:33AM (#38434120)

    ...reading some years back that the Red Light camera companies had specific language in the contracts that restricted the length of yellow lights.

    A cynical person might think they wanted people running red lights. But I'm not...oh, fuck it. I am cynical.

    • Re:I Seem To Recall (Score:5, Informative)

      by digitalaudiorock (1130835) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:38AM (#38434186)
      As I recall, cities were in fact called out for shortening yellow lights for profit, and risking lives in the process. A quick Google search found this: http://blog.motorists.org/6-cities-that-were-caught-shortening-yellow-light-times-for-profit/ [motorists.org]
      • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:42AM (#38434254) Journal

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

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ByOhTek (1181381)

          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 alexo (9335) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:31AM (#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 harl (84412) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:59AM (#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.
        • Re:I Seem To Recall (Score:5, Interesting)

          by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @12:34PM (#38435984)

          As long as you're not at the bottom, you're fine. People in general, given the opportunity, would make as much profit as they could from what ever they could, society be damned.

          The best that I can put together is that if you're at the top or in charge, you're living the American Dream and we don't want to punish anyone that makes it to that level. But if you're at the bottom you screwed up or God is punishing you so you deserve to be there. We have people making $40k a year cursing at the person making $15k for "stealing their money" and "needing to work harder". But they let the person making $1M a year slide because some day that person making $40k is going to be a part of the $1M and they don't want their money taken away.

          The CEO of what had been one of the largest privately held mortgage lenders was sentenced Tuesday to more than three years in prison for his role in a $3 billion scheme that officials called one of the biggest corporate frauds in U.S. history.

          The 40-month sentence for Paul R. Allen, 55, is slightly less than the six-year term sought by federal prosecutors.

          vs

          A homeless man robbed a Louisiana bank and took a $100 bill. After feeling remorseful, he surrendered to police the next day. The judge sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

          Roy Brown, 54, robbed the Capital One bank in Shreveport, Louisiana in December 2007. He approached the teller with one of his hands under his jacket and told her that it was a robbery.

          The teller handed Brown three stacks of bill but he only took a single $100 bill and returned the remaining money back to her. He said that he was homeless and hungry and left the bank.

          The next day he surrendered to the police voluntarily and told them that his mother didn’t raise him that way.

          Brown told the police he needed the money to stay at the detox center and had no other place to stay and was hungry.

          In Caddo District Court, he pleaded guilty. The judge sentenced him to 15 years in prison for first degree robbery.

      • Re:I Seem To Recall (Score:5, Informative)

        by bjdevil66 (583941) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:30AM (#38434998)

        Cities ABSOLUTELY cheat on yellow light timing - and they always will be because after they sign the contracts, they realize just how much money they HAVE to bring in just to pay the minimum monthly fees to the camera companies.

        Case in point: In Paradise Valley, Arizona, they were caught red-handed by anti-camera activists intentionally shortening yellow lights [wordpress.com] going less than four seconds, which was a threshold they were never supposed to go under. The city claimed they weren't doing it, until this youtube video [youtube.com] proved they were cheating at photo radar intersections.

        After being caught red-handed, the city quietly and quickly - the very next day, in fact - changed the timing to match that minimum threshold.

        In downtown Chandler, AZ, there was another well-known intersection with cameras with a shorter yellow time than the others, and it led to a majority of ALL of its camera "revenue".

        Bottom line: There are a ton of revenue-desperate city councils out there full of dopes who aren't clever enough to see what the snake oil salesmen from camera companies are selling: "sin tax safety" AND revenue to boot, with a huge gotchas attached. It's going to take years to flush the system of these safety-neutral, revenue positive cameras.

        BTW - Everyone should take notice that Los Angeles hasn't burned to the ground after turning off their cameras. It's safe to say that if LA can live without cameras, Denver (and any other major city in the United States) would probably avoid their own "carmageddon" as well...

        • That doesn't prove anything about red light cameras being effective. *Any* tool can be misused. You don't throw a tool out because the person wielding it is doing something bad with it.
          • While that is true, if a tool continually gets abused by those wielding it maybe it isn't worth having.
          • by hrvatska (790627)
            To determine whether red light cameras are effective you have to first ask what their purpose is. What is the purpose of red light cameras?
          • How about this [bellinghamherald.com]? A real-world study, running for several months, ended up in the city council ditching most red light cameras because "the data that was collected showed that there was not a significant or discernible change in the safety of the three intersections we were using to program it", and also "there were three more crashes at the intersections with red-light cameras in the first six months of the year .. two were rear-end crashes ... they stopped short of the light because they indicated they didn

    • The MUTCD and ITE (Score:5, Informative)

      by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:39AM (#38434212)

      specifies that the duration of the yellow change interval should be between 3 and 6 seconds. And people have won court cases over red light tickets over the yellow time being too short.

      http://www.ite.org/decade/pubs/IR-117-E.pdf [ite.org]

      http://www.ite.org/safety/issuebriefs/Traffic%20Signals%20Issue%20Brief.pdf [ite.org]

      http://www.ite.org/annualmeeting/compendium10/pdf/AB10H2601.pdf [ite.org]

      • Re:The MUTCD and ITE (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:09AM (#38434694)

        Also worth reading this - Oregon DOT Recommendations: http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/TRAFFIC-ROADWAY/docs/pdf/ODOT_yellow_red_clear_policy_A1.pdf?ga=t

        The 3 to 6 recommendation is based on some general assumptions and characteristics. It's still a mathematical equation. Also, here's a few c/p from the parent's references that are relevant (including the statement that yellow duration is commonly limited by control manufacturers and the shortfall is made up during a red phase):

        The calculation requires values for perception/reaction time of the driver, deceleration rate for stopping vehicle, vehicle speed, approach grade (uphill, downhill), intersection width and design vehicle length. The standard value used for the perception and reaction time of drivers approaching a signalized intersection is 1.0 sec.

        The Highway Design Handbook for Older Drivers and Pedestrians concludes that the 1.0-sec. reaction time is appropriate for both older and younger drivers, but that the use of a 1.5-sec. reaction time “is well justified when engineering judgment determines a special need to take older drivers’ diminished capabilities into account.”

        The MUTCD (Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices) indicates that the yellow change interval should be set within the range of 3 to 6 sec. and many signal controller units will not permit settings outside of this range. If the phase change interval needs to be near the top of this range or beyond, the additional time is sometimes provided as part of a red clearance
        interval.

    • by mr1911 (1942298) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:40AM (#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 AdrianKemp (1988748) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:36AM (#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.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:39AM (#38434198)

      In many states drivers are taught to enter the intersection to take a left turn, and it's legal.

      • Yes, thank you. I wish more people understood this. You get many more through an intersection if the lead left-turner pulls into the intersection.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:18AM (#38434818)

        It's also legal in Canada, or at least Ontario. The OP is a moron. You may always enter the intersection to perform a manoeuvre you have a green light for (in fact, the HTA says you can receive a ticket for NOT doing so). Once you are fully in the intersection, if you light turns red because you cannot complete the manoeuvre you are permitted (and required), by the HTA to complete the manoeuvre on red.

        Yes, you must wait until the intersection is clear, that is also in the HTA, however, that is much more discretionary than the other directions, since the driver may start their left turn and realize the intersection is not clear before they complete their turn due to a blocked view or a car speeding up, at which point the driver is required to yield the right of way.

        Furthermore, while it is horribly annoying when people overstep this and try to squeeze three cars though, it present absolutely no collision risk because the left turn is complete either during the time when the whole intersection is red (yes, the entire intersection is supposed to be red for a moment before the other traffic is allowed to move) or as the other light turns green (in which case they are stopped and notice you in their path so they wait to proceed). The only possible time I can see it being a problem is when a driver decides to speed at a stale red, not paying attention to the intersection, in the hope that the intersection will be clear and the light will magically turn green. That sort of driver was planning to run the red, anyways.

        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...

        • by Galestar (1473827) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:48AM (#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 Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:50AM (#38434386)
      I have seen several studies showing a very distinct link between length of the yellow and safety. This study [motorists.org] shows that increasing the length of the yellow decreases red light violations and this article [motorists.org] references several studies that show that this effect does not diminsh with time. So, your gut is wrong on this one (although I understand why you would suspect that to be the case).
      • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

        It's rather intuitive. The people right at the line go on. The people who are close try to make it under the light. The people who have plenty of time figure they are unlikely to make the light and slow down. If I see the yellow and barely have to brake in order to stop by the line, there's no need to push my luck.

        You will still have instances of people not paying attention and blowing right through a red light. But giving more people the opportunity to squeeze under just makes sense, if you're most in

    • by Pope (17780)

      Biggest problem I see is the (a) 2 dipshits who are behind the stop line turning left after the red, thereby (b) blocking the advance left turns on the cross street, which leads back to (a) again, etc. Turn the cameras on and ticket those assholes first!

    • 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.

      From the article: City traffic engineer Brian Mitchell said fewer crashes are being recorded at intersections where photo-red-light enforcement has been set up and where yellow-light clearance time has been lengthened.

    • We had ice-packed roads in Denver last night again. It is not possible to break in three seconds without skidding, especially in a vehicle without fancy electronic brakes. You either have to drive rather slowly- 25 mph or less. Or go through the red light. I do some of both.

      What helps a lot is 80% of the light have pedestrian countdowns, which at zero go to yellow. (some states go to red at zero) I can decide to start braking if the countdown is in single digits.
    • by alexo (9335) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:41AM (#38435168) Journal

      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.

      For the Google-challenged:
      http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/02/243.asp [thenewspaper.com]
      http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/28/2887.asp [thenewspaper.com]

      You can find more.

    • by DRJlaw (946416)

      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.

      Former civil engineer here. The italicized "asshole behavior" is legal many places in the US and is an intended result of traffic engineering. In congested intersections without a left hand turn signal, your preference would result in no traffic clearing the left hand turn lane during a traffic control cycle.

      In common practice and design, a driver may enter the int

  • Changed my mind (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:37AM (#38434170)

    I used to think the intersection camera were a good idea. However, I changed my mind once a I listened to a local police chief explain that in his city traffic accidents had actually risen at the intersections where the cameras were in use. Folks would brake suddenly when they saw the camera causing the vehicle behind them to rear-end them. Once he said that I knew he was right. People would do that.

    The cameras are a good idea in theory, but the real-world unintended consequences are too costly.

  • Both (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:38AM (#38434194) Journal

    Long yellows to give everyone a chance to stop, and red light cameras to catch the bastards who don't take that chance.

  • Some science has already been done on this subject, and it suggests red light cameras actually increase the rate of accidents. If i remember correctly it was even covered previously on slashdot.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080311151159.htm [sciencedaily.com]

    Guess the person(s) / corporation who sold this idea to the decisionmakers were not so keen at looking at what had already been established.
    Also, I posted the full link as I don't know how to "linkify" a word, and could not find a guide anywhere. I'm a med

  • why are some tickets based on NFL style reviews and people some times get tickets that a REAL cop would not give out?

  • Start putting timers on the yellow and green lights. I've been saying this ever since I starting to see cities put timers for crosswalks. Timers on traffic lights will help people know when that sucker is going to turn red. I run yellows all the time because some seem to last forever, while others flash for a brief second then its red. If I'm coming up on a light, with only 2 seconds left on a yellow, I'm more likely to slow down and stop for the red.
    • by OzPeter (195038)

      Start putting timers on the yellow and green lights.

      Back when I was a lad there were several sets of traffic lights near where I lived that consisted of a single clock hand spinning around a disk that was segmented into red, yellow and green sections. So the driver always knew how much time was left in each part of the cycle. The only problem with this scheme is that it can't be adapted to changing traffic patterns - unless of course you make the dials out of the same technology as the video billboards.

  • How about just slow things down a bit and increase the illusion of danger instead of the illusion of safety?*

    * http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.12/traffic.html [wired.com]

  • The summary didn't specify "traffic safety", so

    1. red light cameras increase revenue (that's their purpose, so if they can't prove that, get rid of them)

    2. more revenue means they have to lay off fewer police officers (easy to fudge some books and threaten layoffs to "prove" this)

    3. more police officers result in better public safety (use Biden's quote about fewer officers means more rapes and murders)

    • by SirGeek (120712)

      The summary didn't specify "traffic safety", so

      1. red light cameras increase revenue (that's their purpose, so if they can't prove that, get rid of them)

      2. more revenue means they have to lay off fewer police officers (easy to fudge some books and threaten layoffs to "prove" this)

      3. more police officers result in better public safety (use Biden's quote about fewer officers means more rapes and murders)

      3.5 The Police officers can be used for more "high profit" crimes like arresting drug dealers and users.

  • by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:48AM (#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 @11:07AM (#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.

      • 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.

        While I understand your POV, much of the reason behind the US viewpoint is cultural, just as in the EU. American's dislike of a strong central government (unless it is doing something they support) is rooted in our founding - we gave states rights very specifically and limited federal power; after our experiences with the British crown. As the US expanded across the continent, the distances form the central government widened and local control become the norm. This feeling still exists today.

        You still see t

  • If this technology/enforcement mechanism COST money NO ONE would install it. Private Law Enforcement...What could go wrong ?
  • by OzPeter (195038) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:50AM (#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 The Moof (859402)
      They're not reviled, we just hate when they're abused. Most people I know who've gotten red light tickets via a camera got one due to turning right on a red light at a very specific T-intersection in my area. The only possibly way the right-turners would pose a threat is if a car pulled a 180 turn and drove back into them. It's become quite a notorious intersection for the "bullshit camera" tickets (their phrase, not mine).

      I also know of at least one red light camera that was removed specifically becau
    • by cobrausn (1915176)
      Don't be silly. If a person was going to run a red light while you have a green, a $75 dollar civil fine wasn't going to stop them - they were probably drunk or not paying attention. All these fines do is hit people who guess incorrectly about the length of the yellow or (correctly or incorrectly) think they won't be able to stop before it turns red. You know, everyday minor driving errors that happen to all of us and rarely hurt anybody - the kind of thing most cops won't even write a ticket for, even i
  • I can believe that giving a subset of the lights in one city a longer yellow would reduce accidents, for those particular lights. However, the key question is what happens when you adjust *all* the yellow lights in a city. My experience says that people generally time yellow lights, and try to get away with getting through just as the lights turn red. If they're uniformly longer, people will just keep going for a few more seconds of yellow.

  • by stomv (80392) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:52AM (#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

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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 _0xd0ad (1974778)

      "According to the law*, a yellow light is to be treated as a red light *if* the vehicle can safely stop. ... all vary state to state, but this is generally speaking the case"

      Is that so? This is what Missouri state law has to say about vehicles facing a yellow light:

      Vehicular traffic facing a steady yellow signal is thereby warned that the related green movement is being terminated or that a red indication will be exhibited immediately thereafter when vehicular traffic shall not enter the intersection

      That says traffic shall not enter the intersection on red, and yellow is nothing more than a warning that the red light is coming.

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:54AM (#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 Wingsy (761354) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @10:58AM (#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 Jeng (926980)

      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.

      It's called traffic platooning. Basically the system that allows you to hit five or six greens in a row is responsible for the "stupid stoplights" .Unfortunately if you google that phrase you now come across driverless systems that take platooning to the next level.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic_light_control_and_coordination#Coordinated_control [wikipedia.org]

  • by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:04AM (#38434616)
    "I need eight less accidents on 67th and Anderson, 15 less on Main and Second and a ten percent drop in the Joensboro distrcit over all". Get out there and make it happen or there are going to be career repercussions "

    Inevitably these are the words that will issue from some Superior Officer's mouth each morning so they can "prove" that red light camera improve safety even around the areas they're installed where there are no cameras.

    And what follows is destroyed and distorted paperwork, reclassification of incidents, motorists NOT being issued tickets on certain roads, people being "let go" and individuals involved in accidents being encouraged to "work it out between yourselves so it doesn't go on your record".

    We KNOW what happens when police are under pressure to produce downward statistics in crime each year, or in this case downward statistics for accidents. Policing becomes less professional and more third-worldy, even criminal.

    Some examples: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3mmuZsHmv8 [youtube.com]

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/13/ex-nypd-cop-we-planted-ev_n_1009754.html/ [huffingtonpost.com]

    It's not what the cops want to do, it's what well-intentioned people who think policing should be subject to the same kinds of productivity and performance metrics that other industries are subject to inadvertently cause.

    Telling cops they need to produce such and such numbers for this and that reason is a stupid idea who time has never existed in the first place. Telling them they need to prove by stats that the camera improve intersection safety is a big mistake.

    The way to work this is to let them do what from their experience they feel will work and have the insurance companies by law turn over their statistics to the government or the universities who then data mines it on an ongoing basis to see what works for traffic safety and what doesn't and what's trending and what isn't.

    Don't make the source of the data also the beneficiary of the data when it leans a certain way. Also don't punish them when it leans some other way.

    The police don't cause crime so it's not theirs to reduce year over year. Society causes crime, the economy causes crime, bad parenting and poor family environment causes crime, lousy neighborhoods cause crime. Not policing.

    The vast majority of police forces do what they can in the best way they've learned how and results are really pretty good in most areas. But the lions share of the credit or blame goes to the population who either is or is not inclined to follow the law in the first place.

    Squeezing departments to produce numbers is a sure fire way to have them enact a quota system which is a sure fire path to corruption which is a sure fire path to contempt for cop on the part of the citizenry which is a sure fire way to increase crime as the years go by.

    We need to do everything we can to produce and maintain a justice system that honorable and equitable and run like hell from anything that tends to corrupt that system.

  • I hope the Denver suburb of Aurora- which has red light cameras at every major intersection in the city, will do the same. I do everything I can to avoid driving through either city. Besides people slamming on their breaks at every intersection, the camera flashes at night are annoying and dangerous!
  • by peter303 (12292) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @11:37AM (#38435116)
    One of the Denver TV stations (FOX) collected these statistics. The city council has commissioned a study. the increased rear ends are from more sudden-braking.
  • by neile (139369) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @12:49PM (#38436188)

    The city of Redmond, WA did a one year pilot study installing red light cameras at a few key intersections. The full study [redmond.gov] of how well they reduced traffic accidents is worth a read, but in a nutshell there was essentially no impact to the number of traffic collisions. 89% of the citations issued were for turning right on red without coming to a complete stop. The only place the cameras were useful was in the school zone.

    Based on the above study the city decided to cancel the contract [redmond.gov] for the cameras.

    Neil

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