Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"Red light cameras" save lives

Fellow surviving cyclists will back me up on this... you never roll out into an intersection just because your traffic light has turned green. For some drivers, a red light seems to mean "Punch it, because you've only got another 3 seconds to clear the intersection!!"

Debate has raged for several years among motorists and citizens in general, over the practice of installing "red light cameras" - devices that photograph the car, license plate, and driver when a vehicle goes through a red light. A citation is issued and fine collected, based on that photographic evidence.

Detractors (those who go through red lights?) mostly seem to question the motive. They say that the motivator is the revenue generated by tickets, not safety.

However, that argument has apparently grown weaker. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety just issued a report that says intersection fatalities are down by 24%, in 14 large cities that have installed the intersection cameras. It's hard to argue with such positive results. (And what city, struggling to make ends meet during these tough economic times, couldn't use some extra revenue? I've got NO PROBLEM with the notion of red-light runners picking up part of the tab!)

Gary Biller of the "National Motorists Association" (?) argues that longer-lasting yellow lights would be better for reducing intersection collisions. I'm not so sure. That might make some motorists hit the intersection even faster than they do now, as they "punch it" from even farther back, to make it through! (You'd think a "Motorists' Association" would have motorist safety as their first and foremost priority.)

More info HERE.

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