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Red Light Cameras Raise Crash Risk, Cost

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the time-to-test-red-light-clown-technology dept.

Government 499

concealment writes with news of dissatisfaction with a pilot program for stoplight-monitoring cameras. The program ran for several years in New Jersey, and according to a new report, the number of car crashes actually increased while the cameras were present. "[The program] appears to be changing drivers’ behavior, state officials said Monday, noting an overall decline in traffic citations and right-angle crashes. The Department of Transportation also said, however, that rear-end crashes have risen by 20 percent and total crashes are up by 0.9 percent at intersections where cameras have operated for at least a year. The agency recommended the program stay in place, calling for 'continued data collection and monitoring' of camera-monitored intersections. The department’s report drew immediate criticism from Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, who wants the cameras removed. He called the program 'a dismal failure,' saying DOT statistics show the net costs of accidents had climbed by more than $1 million at intersections with cameras." Other cities are considering dumping the monitoring tech as well, citing similar cost and efficacy issues.

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499 comments

Why not (1, Flamebait)

bobstreo (1320787) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111477)

Just have homeless/unemployed people at the intersections with digital cameras?

You want lawsuits ... (3, Funny)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111621)

...regarding ...

* 1. exploitation of homeless/unemployed people and putting them in harm's way ?

* 2. drivers getting into accident due to the distraction by the appearance of homeless/unemployed/unkempt people at busy traffic intersections?

* 3. little girls in cars got spooked by homeless/unemployed/unkempt people taking pictures of them?

 
If your answer is "YES" to all of the above questions, then, sure, go ahead, start distributing digital cameras to homeless/unemployed people and putting them in the middle of busy traffic intersections.
 

Re:You want lawsuits ... (4, Insightful)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112127)

1. It's not exploitation if the homeless/unemployed person does this voluntarily for a wage (aka a job).

They wouldn't be in harm's way if they're positioned somewhere sensible where cars don't travel, such as a sidewalk.

2. Drivers get into accidents for all kinds of stupid reasons. Cops sometimes appear at busy intersections, as well as hookers, protesters, news cameramen, fruit vendors, etc. I don't see any outrage to ban these.

3. Little girls in cars, oh my... won't someone please think of the CHILDREN!

Re:Why not (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111633)

This actually did happen [expathell.com] in Korea several years ago:

Float back several years in time with me for a moment. There was once a time in Korea when the government got really serious about curbing traffic violations. This was probably due to ranking highly on all sorts of international statistic lists for traffic fatalities.

Anyhow, the Korean government’s solution was to implement a reward system whereby normal citizens would receive a monetary reward for submitting photos of other drivers violating the law. Brilliant idea right? Yeah, and it failed brilliantly too. Wanna guess why? The Korean government failed to take the following into account:

1. The number of false reports and staged photos was absolutely through the roof.

2. People began CAUSING traffic violations in order to profit. For example, they’d block a street momentarily so that an intersection would get filled up with cars during a red light, and then they’d have a friend photograph all the cars stuck in the intersection.

3. People began blackmailing each other. Instead sending the photos into the police, they started trying to sell the photos to the drivers of the cars being photographed while breaking the law, and it turned out to be even MORE profitable.

4. Korean people began quitting their jobs, buying expensive camera gear, and setting up elaborate photograph traps in areas where they knew they could make money. That’s right, people actually quit their day jobs because blackmailing or turning in their fellow citizens all of the sudden became more profitable than working in an office.

5. The government didn’t consider that they would receive hundreds of thousands of photographs, and without some type of standard or rules set in place, would be obligated to pay out insane amounts of money to the thousands of amateur photographers who suddenly materialized across the peninsula. The profits generated by traffic fines went to pay off the photographers, which means no profit for the government.

6. Traffic violators would see another person photographing them, and then they’d get out of the car and beat the shit out of the cameraman.

7. Men would take pictures of women violating traffic laws, and then demand sexual favors in exchange for not submitting the photos to the police.

Thus the “turn in your poorly driving neighbor” policy was scrapped almost as quickly as it started. And no, this isn’t fiction. Ask a Korean about it.

Re:Why not (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111839)

Pretty much all of those 'problems' could be solved by... people obeying the traffic laws. For instance, #7- if the women obeyed the traffic laws, there would be no way to blackmail them into sex.

Re:Why not (4, Informative)

D'Sphitz (699604) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111943)

You must have skipped over #1 and #2.

Re:Why not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42112179)

For some reason, this just makes me laugh.

6. Traffic violators would see another person photographing them, and then they’d get out of the car and beat the shit out of the cameraman.

Re:Why not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42112201)

When did North and South Korea unify? Now *that's* news!

Cost vs injury (5, Insightful)

EdZ (755139) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111491)

Hard to tell without access to the raw figures, but if the number of T-bone crashes has reduced, replaced by more rear-end incidents, is it possible that the injury rate, or at least number of serous injuries or fatalities, has decreased? Even if the net cost in car damage increases, that would still be a win in my books.

Re:Cost vs injury (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111587)

Hard to tell without access to the raw figures, but if the number of T-bone crashes has reduced, replaced by more rear-end incidents, is it possible that the injury rate, or at least number of serous injuries or fatalities, has decreased? Even if the net cost in car damage increases, that would still be a win in my books.

The only thing that is certain to increase is the number of tickets (i.e. municipal revenues). Anything else is just an unintentional side-effect

Re:Cost vs injury (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111629)

Is it still a win in your books when the cities shorten the yellow to generate more tickets?

Re:Cost vs injury (3, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111669)

is it possible that the injury rate, or at least number of serous injuries or fatalities, has decreased?

I'm as anti-traffic-camera as they come, but I have to agree that this is prime territory for "lies, damned lies and statistics." How do we know that the increase in accidents wasn't due to some other factor and the cameras actually mitigated it? What happened in the bordering towns that didn't deploy cameras? Where there any other changes, like increased number of drivers on the road, etc?

Re:Cost vs injury (1)

slothman32 (629113) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112121)

I am also anti-traffic camera.
I am against any kind of public camera as well.
Even if a camera is cheaper/easier/whatever than an actual officer I am still for the person.

P.S. I wonder what Maori or any people who think cameras steal their souls do in a city like London?

Re:Cost vs injury (1)

Genda (560240) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112207)

Actually the result is simple physics. A person is close to the intersection, it goes yellow. Normally he'd just gun through the intersection and be fairly certain to make it through before it changed. But with the camera, he needs to be sure, so he slams on his breaks and the poor bugger behind him eats a bumper. Almost happened to me a couple times.

These collisions can be expensive, but do result in reducing the t-bone accidents cause by one guy running the yellow and another jumping the green (which by the way happens way more often than you'd think. There are a lot of folks out there who think stopping at lights is optional.

Re:Cost vs injury (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111763)

So what happens at intersections without red light cameras? Oh, the light turns red and two to three additional cars still finish their left turns on RED. Ideally, every intersection should be photo enforced.

But really, what is needed are yellow light cameras. Start on yellow and begin filming the vehicle(s) approaching the yellow light. Continue filming as the light turns red. If a vehicle crosses the limit line, save the video which will show both the vehicle approacing the yellow and crossing the limit line after the light turned red. If no vehicle has crossed the limit line, delete the video taken during the yellow light and red light interval and re-record starting at the next yellow light.

This can determine that the yellow light interval was the proper length, the speed at which the vehicle was traveling as the light turned yellow, and whether or not they stopped on red or kept going as the light turned red.

The whole rear-end collisions thing is bunk with respect to the cameras. The at-fault is always the driver who is following too closely to the vehicle in front of them so they can't stop in time for the braking vehicle--not the stationary red light camera.

Re:Cost vs injury (2)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112047)

So what happens at intersections without red light cameras? Oh, the light turns red and two to three additional cars still finish their left turns on RED. Ideally, every intersection should be photo enforced.

So miniscule fraction of drivers performed what is really not that dangerous of a maneuver, more inconsiderate than dangerous, and you want to have red-light cameras at every intersection as ideal?

A single police cruiser, for 2 hours rotated around problem intersections could not only cite the drivers, but he could also cover the entire gamut of other traffic offenses which could occur, many of which are much more dangerous than simply doing a yellow-light car conga line. The best part is, after those two hours, the police officer could do all sorts of other police work. Heck, even during those two hours, the officer could respond to actual important calls.

Your entire response reeks of someone who either can't handle another person behaving slightly out of configuration, or the best satire/troll that has ever reeled me in.

Re:Cost vs injury (5, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112113)

No, what is needed are not cameras. What is needed are some combination of:

  • Stripes on the pavement to indicate that at the speed limit, you should not stop if you are past this point. This reduces the guesswork that currently makes it difficult to assess whether to enter a light or not.
  • Countdown timers on lights to indicate how long the driver has before the light changes to yellow. Again, this reduces the guesswork.
  • Longer yellow cycles. Studies consistently show that above a few seconds, drivers do not ever adjust to longer yellow cycles. Thus, lengthening the yellow cycle by only a couple of seconds reliably and reproducibly reduces red light violations to near zero.

Any one of these would result in a far, far greater reduction in traffic light violations and the resulting collisions than any camera system possibly could. The combination of all three would almost (if not completely) eliminate the problem entirely.

The whole rear-end collisions thing is bunk with respect to the cameras. The at-fault is always the driver who is following too closely to the vehicle in front of them so they can't stop in time for the braking vehicle--not the stationary red light camera.

Technically, yes, but the fact of the matter is that increasing the probability of a driver slamming on his or her brakes increases the probability of a rear-end collision, which is a simply inexcusable thing for law enforcement to be doing, given that there are so many better ways of solving the problem in question that do not result in such a negative side effect.

Therefore, given that red light cameras are significantly less effective than alternative techniques, the only real reason to consider them is revenue generation. And if that's the government's only purpose for enforcing traffic laws in a given community, its leaders should resign.

Re:Cost vs injury (2, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111847)

Same issue with cities shortening yellow lights: you get increased T-bone collisions. But naturally cities are loath to lengthen the lights, because that reduces their income. At least in this case, safety aligns with what cities are going to do anyway.

Re:Cost vs injury (4, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111983)

T-bone crashes aren't the type of crashes prevented by red-light cameras to any significant degree.

A T-bone crash can only occur a few seconds into the light when the other lane of traffic has already begun to pass through the intersection. No driver WANTs to run a true red-light. Those times you see someone blow through a red-light that wasn't just someone squeaking through or missing a yellow? Those mid-red light runners completely missed that there was a redlight there at all! They didn't run the red-light because they wanted to, they ran the red-light because they weren't paying attention.

So what effect does a red-light camera have on people who aren't paying enough attention to see that there is a red-light there in the first place? Well, as we can see by these numbers, not much of an effect at all.

I'd be willing to be that there are fewer T-bone style crashes, because of an increased number of people stopped at the intersection, providing something else for the inattentive driver to see (or as the numbers suggest, rear-end)

Re:Cost vs injury (4, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112031)

According to this article [seattlepi.com] , which references the same study, the cameras actually seem to make things much better.

On the two intersections where the cameras have been in place the longest, t-bone accidents are down 86%!! And this isn't a revenue stream either, as the number of tickets issued, while spiking initially, drops off substantially as drivers get used to the cameras.

Of course, the article submitter wanted a good ole fashioned anti-government hate-fest, and was happy to massage the numbers accordingly. Lies, damned lies, and statistics, indeed.

Re:Cost vs injury (2, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112103)

Here's how speed cameras used to work in the UK when I lived there:

Road would have a big crash when there hadn't previously been one for years.
Government would install a speed camera.
Police collect fines from people driving past the camera who don't know it's there.
Locals either take a different route away from the camera, or hit the brakes just before the camera, then accelerate back to their normal driving speed just after it.
No more crashes. Wow, it worked! Except in most previous years there hadn't been a big crash at that spot either.

Re:Cost vs injury (1, Informative)

rolfwind (528248) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112071)

Hard to tell without access to the raw figures, but if the number of T-bone crashes has reduced, replaced by more rear-end incidents, is it possible that the injury rate, or at least number of serous injuries or fatalities, has decreased? Even if the net cost in car damage increases, that would still be a win in my books.

Then why don't you look at the raw data instead of pure conjecture? And no, you are wrong.

http://www.atsol.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/2012NJDOTrlrfinalreport.pdf [atsol.com]

Pay attention to tables 4, 5, and 6.

in New Jersey? really? (0, Troll)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111493)

i work on the west side of manhattan a few days a week and the NJ drivers are some of the worst ones

along with the asian truck drivers any car with NJ plates would rather run you over or cut you off instead of letting you cross the street on your green light

Re:in New Jersey? really? (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111563)

along with the asian truck drivers

Racist much?

Re:in New Jersey? really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42112223)

Is it racist if he notices a higher percentage of a certain race compared to others doing something? Isn't that just a statistic? Saying a higher percentage of blacks do not graduate from high school compared to other races is not a racist comment. You can draw conclusions from that that may be racist but the comment itself is not.

I get cut off by more asian woman far more than any other type of person. It's a fact, not a racial comment.

Re:in New Jersey? really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111591)

I invite you to visit Montreal. It's no coincidence that Canada's Worse Driver TV show labels it the most driver-hostile city in Canada.

The drivers are idiots. Seriously. Who is allowing them to pass the driver's test? Most drivers don't signal before changing lanes. I've seen plenty of drivers signal left and turn right, or cutting off drivers by turning from a non-turning lane.

Re:in New Jersey? really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111657)

New Jersey drivers are definitely the worst I have seen anywhere in the US (and that includes Los Angeles). But I haven't driven in Washington, DC, which is supposedly the worst of all.

Re:in New Jersey? really? (2)

rockout (1039072) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111879)

Death and taxes already mentioned, the third "only sure thing" is that no matter where you're from, the drivers from the different places are the "worst ones". Somehow, jackasses from State X are always vomiting out that "Those assholes from State Y can't drive!" and meanwhile, the reverse is also true. Congrats, Archie Bunker.

They're just reported more often. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111505)

Maybe the accidents are just reported more often, now that the chance of hit and run diminishes as the cameras capture license plate numbers. Most small hit and run fender benders probably go unreported.

Honestly... (0)

raydobbs (99133) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111517)

...who didn't see that happening? When you can't face your accuser anymore, someone who can see you had no ability to stop for the red light - people will just jam on the brakes, be damned the people behind them at the time. Sometimes, just going through the red light is the -least- dangerous option presented - something a red light camera doesn't distinguish.

Re:Honestly... (4, Insightful)

qeveren (318805) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111569)

What honest excuse do you have for running a red light? It isn't like you don't get plenty of warning that the thing is going to change.

Re:Honestly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111617)

What honest excuse do you have for running a red light? It isn't like you don't get plenty of warning that the thing is going to change.

This should be marked humorous right?

Re:Honestly... (2)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111675)

You don't.
Most red lights with cameras do not stay yellow for the normal duration, so that they can actually catch you running a red light.

Re:Honestly... (2)

ZorinLynx (31751) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111959)

Now that we have the tech for it, lights should probably have a countdown timer for the last ten seconds that is visible to traffic.

10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...*yellow comes on*...2...1... *RED*

This will also allow drivers who are further away a chance to let up on the gas (it's going to turn red, might as well coast to it).

This is already effectively in place in some intersections, due to the crosswalk lights that have countdowns, but it's not universal, and the crosswalk countdown doesn't always indicate the behavior of the light for traffic.

Re:Honestly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42112037)

They would never agree to that as that would dramatically cut down on the revenue collected.

Re:Honestly... (1)

runeghost (2509522) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111707)

Being human. Our attention drifts. We get distracted. No one (not counting Google's driverless car) is a perfect driver. Close calls are going to happen. The only question is when they do, do we want drivers motivated by safety and situational awareness, or terrified that their (likely mandatory) car insurance bill is going to go up by hundreds of dollars a year?

Re:Honestly... (2, Insightful)

raydobbs (99133) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111935)

Let me see - sliding on black ice at the intersection - even though you have your foot on the brake peddle, and it to the firewall - you go sliding through the intersection, triggering the camera? Ambulance behind you flips their lights on just as you approach a yellow light - but for whatever reason, their lights don't trigger the override? You prepare to slow down to a stop, but the person behind you appears out of control - and there is no cross-traffic, so you run the light to prevent a collision?

Those were just the few I could think of in a few second, but sure - mod my ass down.

Re:Honestly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42112177)

Sliding through an intersection on black ice? That's called driving to fast for road conditions. What you say? Any speed is too fast. Well, that means you shouldn't be driving. You're not supposed to stay in front of an ambulance, you're supposed to move to the side and stop. But assumming your scenario is valid, you have a witness and record that there were circumstances that dictated your actions.

You got me on the last one though. I could see breaking a traffic law to avoid another wreckless driver. However, I drove through 3 redlight cameras on the way to and from work for 4 years and never got a ticket. There are very few real excuses for running a red light.

With that said, I'm against the cameras. I'm okay with paying a few members of our society to enforce laws. I'm not okay with giving a few members of society omnipresent power over the rest of us.

Captcha: I get that after I go to submit this. Anything I put here isn't funny, because I made it up.

Re:Honestly... (2)

mjwx (966435) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112005)

What honest excuse do you have for running a red light? It isn't like you don't get plenty of warning that the thing is going to change.

B-B-B-But I need to get there faster...

and other such bollocks.

The problem you've got in New Jersey is not red light cameras. It's poorly trained, inconsiderate and selfish drivers.

If you're getting a lot of rear enders you have two problems. Drivers are not looking ahead of the car in front of them and drivers are not maintaining a minimum safe distance (In Australia, this is defined as "enough distance to stop in an emergency without impacting the vehicle in front of you" so he should be able to slam on the brakes and you should be able to do the same without hitting him).

Re:Honestly... (2)

D'Sphitz (699604) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112059)

Light turns green, you are turning left. You pull into the intersection and wait for the oncoming cars who are going straight. Light turns yellow, but rather than hitting the breaks the oncoming idiots are accelerating to make the light. Light turns red, you are still in the intersection. It's happened to everyone, I'm sure including you, many times. Would justice have been served if you got a ticket, several hundred $ fine, and 3 years of jacked insurance rates for every time that has happened? Or you could have gone to court to put your word up against a photograph of your car sitting in an intersection (nevermind that the camera nor the court have any idea who was actually driving).

Also, there have been many cases of yellow lights being shortened to increase violations and fines (revenue) at red light cameras. So no, you don't always have plenty of warning.

related to yellow-light shortening? (3, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111529)

There have been a number of scandals [nationaljournal.com] , including in New Jersey, where installation of cameras was found to coincide with, or be followed shortly thereafter by, shortening the yellow-light duration, presumably to make more money from the resulting tickets.

This article implies that the cameras themselves are at fault, but I wonder if the shortened yellow-light duration is actually the primary culprit.

Re:related to yellow-light shortening? (1)

qeveren (318805) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111577)

Florida was doing this, too, IIRC. They've gotta knock that dishonest bullshit off.

Re:related to yellow-light shortening? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111775)

Why would they? The dishonest bullshit makes them rich and they keep getting away with it.

Re:related to yellow-light shortening? (1, Insightful)

leon.gandalf (752828) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111665)

the real problem is people are just too fucking stupid to know that you stop if safe to do so for a yellow light. You do not stomp on the gas.

Re:related to yellow-light shortening? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111791)

the real problem is people are just too fucking stupid to know that you stop if safe to do so for a yellow light. You do not stomp on the gas.

Yes, it is always the people who are stupid, not the fucking engineering. Perhaps people stomp on the gas because the yellow duration has been shorted and they wouldn't stop in time? And perhaps the timing for a safe stop distance is based on a far slower speed than people actually drive?

If your core design assumption is that people are fucking stupid and need to be punished so that they will stay in line with the system that is implemented, then you are a shitty fucking engineer. Roads are a tool tool to transport people, not your science project on social obedience.

Re:related to yellow-light shortening? (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42112203)

If you put a yellow light in a 45mph zone that lasts half a second, it's never safe to stop. (45mph = 66ft/s, stopping distance at 45mph is ~100ft not counting reaction time, so if you react instantly, you'll still have ~70ft left to go before you come to a stop on the other side of the intersection after the light turned red.

Re:related to yellow-light shortening? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42112039)

The point of photo enforcement is exactly to reduce the yellow-light duration, presumably to alleviate congestion.

already happened in my area (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111539)

In this case, it was the low revenue (low three-digit range after five years of handing out fines) that forced the decision. With red light cameras, the private contractor is the real winner. Everyone else, from local citizen to local government only loses.

http://www.pe.com/local-news/san-bernardino-county/san-bernardino-county-headlines-index/20101205-loma-linda-red-light-cameras-switched-off.ece [pe.com]

The right way to use red light cameras (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111547)

1. Long yellow lights -- minimum of 5 seconds, and more at high speeds -- so that people don't have to slam on the brakes.
2. No visible flashes to distract or blind drivers.
3. No "red light photo enforced" signs to make drivers act strangely.

I bet this will eliminate the extra crashes. It will also eliminate some of the ticket revenue, but I'm sure you can make up for that by increasing the fines on the idiots who will still violate the red light even though they now have plenty of warning to stop.

Works fine here (1)

wimg (300673) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111557)

Works fine in Belgium, where there's hundreds of cameras and we see a steady decrease in the number of casualties at those lights. But maybe that's because there are so many, people actually start slowing down well in advance and don't hit the brakes as soon as they see a camera...

Re:Works fine here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111635)

However in Belgium they probably don't also shorten the yellow lights to the point where it is nearly impossible to stop in time unless you are going 20mph (32 kph) in a 45mph (72 kph) zone in order to maximize revenue. Hell, I have even seen a half second yellow light (blink and you will miss it) at some of those intersections with cameras.

So... (0)

Greyfox (87712) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111561)

If I'm rear-ended at an intersection that has a camera, can I sue the city because the presence of the red light camera (and the shortening of the yellow cycle associated with them) has been proven to cause such accidents? And also due to them not EVER enforcing "following-too-closely" ordinances, people following you too closely is pretty much a given. This is true of every city I've ever driven in, so it's an easy argument to make.

Re:So... (5, Informative)

norpy (1277318) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111691)

If you rear end someone you are by definition following too close and the accident is your fault. That means that if you get rear ended the person you should be suing is the one that dented your ride.
At least that is the law where I live (not in the US)

Bad driving != Legit reason to can red-light cams (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111585)

Maybe people should actually obey the Orange light (which at least in my country is 'Stop if able to') rather than treating it like the best time to put the foot on the gas.. Maybe once people do that they won't be screeching to a halt causing rear ends because they didn't intend to stop until the noticed the camera watching. Poor driving behavior is probably the primary cause of the increase, the cameras just force the issue to surface.

Re:Bad driving != Legit reason to can red-light ca (1)

leon.gandalf (752828) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111749)

It is poor driving skills that leads to running red lights as well as poor driving skills that leads to the rear end collisions. Not to mention the mass of accidents caused due to people being just far to fucking ignorant to abide safe following distances. But I think you got it with the assessment that the cameras just make it obvious, not cause it.

Re:But impossibly short orange/yellow lights are. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111781)

It is hard to obey the orange light when it is way too short to the point where if you aren't driving 32kph in a 72kph zone it is impossible to stop in time. I guess you have never seen a "blink and you miss it" half second orange light.

Sure, there's more accidents... (1)

qeveren (318805) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111595)

But how has this affected the severity of collisions at red lights? If the rate of accidents goes up, but the rate of injuries goes down, I'd call that a win.

Just goes to show (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111599)

That you can legislate all you like, but that will never account or prevent everything. When these systems first went in I immediately wondered if they would see what they have seen. A rise in "other" types of accidents like people slamming on breaks to avoid a red light camera. Seriously, if people paid more attention and were more courteous these things would happen less regardless.

Wow, this old news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111625)

C'mon Slashdot, I saw this "news" more than a few months ago.

I guess our previous discussion wasn't very productive.

Do they have any liability waiver? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111637)

It is just a matter of time before someone is going to sue the traffic camera company. Especially when reports like this come out. So what kind of liability waivers these companies are getting from the cities? We already know the city officials are a bunch of chimps who get just peanuts while bulk of the collection goes to the traffic camera company. They are not known for their skill in negotiating with these companies. It is very much possible these companies have full immunity and all the liability will fall on the city and its tax payers.

OK, but where is that money going? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111653)

Look, if savings go up by 2 million dollars and costs go up by 3 million dollars (of which 1 million dollars goes into my pocket), then operating at a 1 million dollar loss is a net good.

I was in one of those crashes (but not in NJ) (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111655)

It was raining and I was driving in an unfamiliar city that I'd heard had some new red-light cameras. The light turned yellow at just that time when you know you can make it through if you give just a bit more gas. If I'd done that, everything would have been just fine EXCEPT, I might have technically run the red light. Since I didn't want to possibly get a ticket, I hit the brakes and the guy behind me hit me.

Simple way to improve intersection safety (5, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111661)

Roundabouts.

They also improve traffic flow and eliminate the need for 4-lanes in each direction to store stopped idling cars.

Re:Simple way to improve intersection safety (4, Insightful)

ionix5891 (1228718) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111865)

Oh god no! In ireland all we have are fucking roundabouts, and are now being replaced by traffic junctions and traffic flows much better at rush hour

Re:Simple way to improve intersection safety (2)

beeudoublez (619109) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111899)

What was it about the roundabouts that caused traffic to not flow as well compared to the new traffic junctions? I've only heard success stories (aside from people learning how to use them.)

Re:Simple way to improve intersection safety (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42112211)

Roundabouts are a bit like transistors. When a heavy flow starts in one direction, the side directions are blocked indefinitely until the flow lightens, but both directions of flow stop or slow down before entering because they are unsure as to the behavior of the car in the circle (is it going to exit? continue around?). Thus they act as bottlenecks.

Re:Simple way to improve intersection safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111919)

Seriously? They improve traffic throughput in the sense that they slow all traffic through the intersection to a crawl, so instead of uneven start-and-stop cycles with fast-moving traffic, there's a constant slow trickle of traffic. Even roundabouts jam up, however, and in higher volume areas where multi-lane roundabouts are required for volume, lights have to be installed to control the flow. They also increase incidence of sideswipe collisions because of the traffic criss-cross from entering and exiting the roundabout.

Don't believe me? Go drive through a few roundabouts in Tijuana sometime.

Re:Simple way to improve intersection safety (4, Interesting)

alcourt (198386) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112029)

They are also correlated (according to the state transportation official I talked to who was pushing one in my area) with higher car on pedestrian injuries, and are more likely for new drivers to have loss of control accidents compared to more traditional intersections. These loss of control accidents often end up with the vehicle striking the very areas pedestrians are expected to stand, waiting for minutes for a break in traffic to safely cross.

Re:Simple way to improve intersection safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42112167)

Have you driven through a roundabout in the US recently? I can assure you that no one in this country knows how to use a roundabout. It will only make it worse.

Red light cameras increase both crashes and safety (3, Informative)

Ichijo (607641) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111677)

Re:Red light cameras increase both crashes and saf (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111809)

So we save $50,000 per year for each camera.

The same cameras cost about $2000 per day to operate.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/council-votes-out-these-red-light-traffic-cameras-after-2-years-but-why/ [theblaze.com]

Sorry but a program that costs 14 times more to operate than it saves is not effective and needs to be discontinued.

Re:Red light cameras increase both crashes and saf (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111857)

How much does each red light camera earn each day in moving violation fines?

Re:Red light cameras increase both crashes and saf (2)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112079)

Earn?

Honestly we shouldn't ever use law enforcement as a revenue generation tool. It creates perverse incentives for the government.

If we could be trusted to develop fair and reasonable laws without corruption, then maybe, but just like well run Communisim, I think that's something that only exists in theory.

Re:Red light cameras increase both crashes and saf (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112215)

If we're going to be concerned about the taxpayer burden of the administration costs of the red light cameras, then it only makes sense to subtract the fines.

Re:Red light cameras increase both crashes and saf (3, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111885)

Maybe people need to learn to gently stop and not on a dime like a race car driver?

Re:Red light cameras increase both crashes and saf (1)

mflorell (546944) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111977)

The IIHS study you cite in Philadelphia was for only 2 intersections, it was for a very limited time period, and they don't mention it in the study but crashes went up after installation of red light cameras. It is another in a long line of invalid and unprofessional studies that the IIHS has done on red light cameras. The 2007 Virginia DOT red light camera study is one of the most comprehensive studies done on the subject, and it also found crashes went up after cameras were installed.

Re:Red light cameras increase both crashes and saf (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112151)

The IIHS study you cite in Philadelphia...they don't mention it in the study but crashes went up after installation of red light cameras.

That's consistent with the Federal Highway Administration study that I cited. Yes, crashes increase, but their severities decrease, saving $50,000 per year in medical and repair costs.

How to instantly solve the problem (2)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111717)

Don't drive like a dick. Problem solved.

Re:How to instantly solve the problem (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112091)

Tell that to the guy behind me.

Sure, I'm not at fault, but I'm still delayed, my car is broken, I'm potentially injured, I hope he has insurance too.

Injury/death rate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111725)

The real question is whether the cameras are preventing injuries or death from side on collisions. Do people that run the red light plow into the people that have the green light? Are the people that have the green light getting injured or killed more often since they are getting hit on the side of the car where the crumple zone is minimal? The data needs a full review and not cherry picking to promote a particular argument.

The truth is that people should not run red lights and they should prepare to stop on yellow lights. The person behind them should also be preparing to stop to avoid running the red light or rear-ending the car in front of them. This is just good driving practice and the rules of the road. I find it strange that people try to rationalize a particular harmful point of view by what appears to be cherry picking of the data.

T-bone vs read-end (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111741)

It seems highly possible less people are running red-lights and are breaking recklessly instead.

So the real problem is people approaching the intersection too quickly. Before cameras, they just went right through, causing right-angle collisions. Now they scared of the fine and breaking quickly, causing read-end collisions.

The real solution is not to approach intersections at a dangerous speed. Keeping a safe distance from the car in front. Paying attention to the road.

Dont blame the camera. Blame you! (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111755)

Either way, people are driving unsafely and violating the law. Stop for the red light, and morons who are tailgating rear-end them. Don't stop, and morons who run the red light sideswipe someone. The bottom line is that people want to drive however they feel like driving, and they are mad when they can't. People need to grow up and behave like civilized human beings.

Light Counter? (2)

stabiesoft (733417) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111799)

I've often wondered why a timer is not displayed in the green/yellow. They are almost all LED now, so it would not be that hard to have the number of seconds left (full on is >=10) in inverse video. (number is dark on a green/yellow foreground). I know I will look to see if the walk sign has a counter going when the light is green to give me an indication if a yellow is likely or not. Knowing how many seconds are left on the yellow/green would give me nearly infinitely more info than just the 3 lights.

Re:Light Counter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42112015)

If it was a machine you could use the extra info, "moving block" trains can use information about the train ahead to influence their decision about safe speed. But a person will abuse it because people kinda suck.

They will say "Oh, I am going to miss that green, I will speed up" even though it's not safe to speed up, because at any particular moment it feels like it's important to "beat the lights" even though it makes little difference to overall journey time.

The correct situation is to ensure the yellow is long enough, ensure that drivers actually stop on yellow when able (rather than treating is as "it'll be red soon so why not try to squeeze in under the bar") and sit back and wait until we stop letting human amateurs drive cars around like its no big deal.

Re:Light Counter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42112069)

Other solution would be to stop fucking timing lights so they turn red as you approach at the speed limit.

Nothing tempts me into going 10mph over the limit more than the realization that if I had sped up, I wouldn't have had to stop.

Re:Light Counter? (2)

0123456 (636235) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112169)

Bollocks. Most of the stop lights here have flashing lights on the pedestrian crossings that flash about a dozen times before the lights change, so I have a very good idea of when the light is going to change; that means I can either start to brake because I know I'm not going to get through the light, or I can ignore the light because I know it's not going to change, or accelerate so I'll be through the light before it does change. I hate the lights here which don't have pedestrian crossings because I can't tell whether I'm going to have to stop.

Of course the correct solution would be to rip most of them out and replace them with roundabouts.

Re:Light Counter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42112105)

This is actually pretty brilliant. Problem is, I highly doubt they'd receive massive funding to overhaul all traffic lights. So they would probably have to be phased in as units grew old and had to be replaced. Still great idea though. Seriously, why NOT do this???

Re:Light Counter? (3, Interesting)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112135)

This. I've been wondering the same thing since they introduced LEDs.

One change I'd suggest is to make it some sort of a progress indicator, rather than an actual countdown using numbers, that way it's more understandable to everyone and more discernible from a distance. For instance, light the LEDs in a filled circle at the center of the yellow light, that way people can always tell it's a yellow, but then have the unlit outer ring of LEDs get filled up in a sweeping motion that goes around clockwise, that way we can tell both how quickly it is going and how much time we have left, without having to making out the number or parse it. Doing that would make it easier to see at a distance, and it'd also mean that even if you missed the first half of the yellow, you could still tell how fast it's going, giving you an idea of whether it's a fast or a long yellow light for future reference.

I'm not sure that I'd do it with greens, however, since I know plenty of intersections that stay green for several minutes at a time (making both of our ideas a poor choice), and I'm pretty sure I've even seen some at night that default to staying green until they detect a car at the cross street, meaning that a countdown or progress indicator would be irrelevant.

Scrap signs altogether! (4, Interesting)

mcrbids (148650) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111827)

There's a movement growing rapidly in Europe to reduce traffic signs and lights, and they are finding that removing signs and lights can cause a rather dramtic reduction in accidents. A number of cities have done away with traffic lights and signs entirely [spiegel.de] with surprisingly good results. (EG: average trip times drop dramatically, accident rate plummets, people report greater satisfaction, etc)

I'm not saying that we should do away with all signs everywhere, but there is sufficient evidence available that the "common sense" utility of the traffic sign or a traffic light is clearly unproven.

Cherry-picking much? (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111907)

noting an overall decline in traffic citations and right-angle crashes

So while the collision rate is up, the rate of the most dangerous collisions are down. I suspect there's a similar decline in deaths and injuries.

the net costs of accidents had climbed by more than $1 million

That's insurers' problem, and has no real effect on the state treasury. And having the cameras makes it easier to pin down blame and liability.

Re:Cherry-picking much? (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112111)

That's insurers' problem, and has no real effect on the state treasury. And having the cameras makes it easier to pin down blame and liability.

No, that's the problem of everyone who pays insurance premiums. And liability in a rear-end collision at an intersection is pretty easy to determine even without cameras.

Follow the money (1)

speedlaw (878924) | about a year and a half ago | (#42111931)

If this technology cost money, it would never, ever be installed. Unfortunately, it works "best" in places the signal intervals are incorrectly set. In NYC, it is very good at giving you "gridlock" tickets, if the car in front of you stops and you get caught in the "box". They are called scameras for a reason. And no, I don't run red lights, even at 3 am, thank you.

Re:Follow the money (1)

mjwx (966435) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112035)

If this technology cost money, it would never, ever be installed. Unfortunately, it works "best" in places the signal intervals are incorrectly set. In NYC, it is very good at giving you "gridlock" tickets, if the car in front of you stops and you get caught in the "box". They are called scameras for a reason. And no, I don't run red lights, even at 3 am, thank you.

In Australia, red light cameras require you to set off two sets of induction loops, the first before the stop line, the second after the stop line.

The only people who call them "scameras" are the people who cant drive properly.

In NYC, it is very good at giving you "gridlock" tickets, if the car in front of you stops and you get caught in the "box".

If you have to stop in the middle of an intersection, you're doing it wrong (not looking more than one car ahead of you).

WA tried this as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42111971)

Some cities in Washington tried this not too long ago and also saw a spike in accidents in the intersection, so they removed them. They insisted the timing of the lights did not change, they only added the cameras. Apparently one of the issues is that many slam on their brakes when they see a red light coming, and get rear-ended as a result, where they might have just rolled up before the cameras were in place. Sometimes rolling stops are actually ok.

It's not about the money. (1)

paiute (550198) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112003)

(It's about the money.)

What about injuries and fatalities? (1)

HtR (240250) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112033)

I'm more worried about the injury and fatality rates, rather than the cost of the accidents.

I remember reading about a similar study about somewhere in Canada (sorry - don't remember the details) that said that while rear-end crashes were up (because of people hitting their brakes hard to avoid going through the intersection), the number of "T-bone" or right-angle crashes was down (because of less people going through on an "early red"). This study noted that the number of accidents didn't change much, but that injuries and fatalities were way down, because the T-bone accidents tend to be more dangerous.

The article quoted in the summary does mention that right-angle crashes are down in this report as well, but doesn't address injuries or fatalities.

right angle crashes are worse (1)

bouldin (828821) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112087)

So, right angle (aka t-bone crashes) are down, but rear- end collisions are up? That doesn't sound so bad.

Right angle crashes can kill people. Rear-end collisions are fender benders.

Thank God (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42112117)

Thank God red light cameras (and all other automated traffic law enforcement) are illegal in my state.

Don't run yellow lights (1)

aybiss (876862) | about a year and a half ago | (#42112165)

I have noticed that many drivers speed up when the light is yellow. This fundamentally retarded action (why weren't you going the correct speed already?) no doubt accounts for the fact that rear-endings have increased.

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