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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Red-light cameras? Please, stop!

Remember van cams? Remember how we all stood up to put the van cams down? Well, there’s no idea bad enough that government types won’t propose it again and again. The state of Hawai‘i today resurrected the idea of red-light cameras, hoping the legislature will pass a law this session to put the cameras in place. All in the name of traffic safety, of course. Nobody wants people running red lights.

Except that red-light cameras make traffic more dangerous, not less dangerous. The threat of an automated red-light ticket makes drivers behave more erratically at intersections, causing more accidents and raising the cost of those collisions. This is not a theory, it’s a documented phenomenon.

Red-light camera revenues also seem to have a corrupting influence on the governments that deploy them. Read “Six cities busted for shortening yellow lights.” Shorten the yellow lights, and more people get caught running red lights, leading to millions of dollars in fines. Who cares if those yellow-light cycles are shorter than recommended for safety’s sake?

There’s no need for Hawaii to try to reinvent the wheel on this. Other governments that have tried red-light cameras, or considered them, are giving them up.

(Special nod to, where this issue gets regular attention, with a national perspective, and where these links, and more, can be found.)

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. If this good intention passes into law, the road will be paved with rear-end collisions, injuries, and, who knows, maybe a fatality or two.

Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2009 in Permalink

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