Will Traffic Cameras Get the Red Light?

red light

Photo: Daniel Oines (flickr)

In the past 8 years, red light cameras have brought in more than $8.5 million for the city of Columbus.

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Today the Ohio Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the hotly debated red light cameras.

Proponents of red light cameras argue that these cameras help keep people safe and allow cities around the country generate much needed revenue. However, they face a growing opposition of citizens who feel as though these cameras actually hinder the safety of individuals while also violating their right to due process.

Lee Han, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the university of tennessee, discussed the effectiveness of red light cameras, and any potential they might have for an increase or decrease of safety. Han argued that some red light cameras are focussed more on revenue and not safety.

Han explained the duration period of the yellow light greatly affected the likelihood of getting a red light camera ticket, and said a few cities have been shown to have actually decreased yellow light time on purpose to drive up ticket rates.

“Basically, when some of the traffic engineers were feeling pressure to somehow generate more revenue to pay for the cameras system, they had to do something that can be construed as not ethical,” Han said.

Anne McCartt, the senior vice president for research at insurance institute for highway safety, argued that red light cameras save lives.

“Red light cameras are highly effective at reducing crashes, and that includes fatal crashes,” McCartt said.

John Bowman, director of communication at national motorists association, said there were specific studies that proved red light cameras cause accidents.

“Its important to go back and look at the studies we’ve been talking about, and look at the special interests behind these studies. You can argue studies all day long, for every study they have showing there’s a benefit, there is another peer-reviewed study that shows it doesn’t have a benefit,” Bowman said.

McCartt claimed that not only do red light cameras generate revenue, but they save lives as well. Bowmann disagreed, and explained he believed the cameras could actually cause accidents and violate citizen’s rights.

Who made the better argument? Do red light cameras help the public stay safe, or are they simply a money grab that disregards the rights of citizens? Decide for yourself who made the best argument by listening to the full hour of the show.

Guests

  • Dr. Lee Han, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Tennessee
  • Anne McCartt, Senior Vice President for Research at Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
  • John Bowman,  Director of Communication at National Motorists Association

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