Red light cameras: another false “controversy”

[On deadline this week & next week, so no grand posts for now. Instead, here’s something I adapted from an online argument about red light cameras. However, I do have some meaty posts on their way.]

I know that red light cameras aren’t popular, but (1) car crashes kill about as many Chicagoans each year as murders, and many more in affluent areas; (2) the consensus of peer-reviewed research [e.g., Bochner & Walden, ITE Journal 80.5; Persaud et al, TRR 1922] shows that RLCs are significantly effective at reducing crash severity. Yes, the number of rear-end crashes increases, but the number of right-angle crashes declines by more, and those are much more severe crashes: not only do they occur at higher speeds, but directly impact the passenger cabin. RLCs would be a good investment in safety even if they did not pay for themselves.

The popular press has a way of taking a peer-reviewed study, and quotes from actual experts, and “for balance” contrasting those with quotes from less rigorous research or just base speculation. In this particular instance, the contrasting study is not peer-reviewed, does not consider crash severity, and likely doesn’t pass statistical significance.

It appears that the popular press more broadly is fabricating evidence against RLCs, appealing to readers who want to absolve themselves of responsibility for their poor driving habits (and dodge the accountability that RLCs provide). People don’t like to be reminded of the horrific consequences of driving, after all.

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One thought on “Red light cameras: another false “controversy”

  1. I have not incurred a RLC violation since the city put them on the street. I have not incurred an accident due to a RLC e.g. rear-end collision. I drive for my employment. I wreck my vehicle I am out of work. My secret? I PAY ATTENTION WHEN I DRIVE!!! That is all anyone has to do! If drivers put as much effort into avoiding RLC tickets as they do WHINING about them, they would be in a better position on many levels!

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