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Thread summary:

Legislature law to implement traffic cameras, red light cameras, safety at intersections, timed caution yellow lights, increase rear end collisions, surveillance cameras

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Old 02-22-2007, 01:24 PM
 
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what about the legislature passing a law to implement traffic cameras which accuse you of running a red light and find you guilty , without a chance to face your accuser. shut up pay the fine , what a cash cow this is going to bring the city/counties in VA!
these may save a couple of T-Bone wrecks but it causes many many rear end collisions i think it sucks!
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Old 02-22-2007, 04:49 PM
 
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There are seven localities in VA that have used their own powers to put up red-light cameras over recent years, and total accidents and accidents-with-injury have increased at the vast majority of intersections where they were installed. Some areas have taken them out again on this account.

And it isn't the local governments that haul off most of the money. The big winners are actually the camera contractors. It's a big money-maker for them, but there is no public safety gain being realized to offset that social cost. Bottom line is that red-light cameras are a poor solution to a borderline non-problem. But let some politicos get wound up in quixotic zeal and the desirability of a noble-sounding soundbite, and all sorts of lousy legislation can be the result...
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Old 02-22-2007, 05:06 PM
 
Location: Apex, NC
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I think cameras are a good idea. This isn't big brother, this is government making it safer for people at intersections. Caution (yellows) are timed such that people DON'T have to slam on their brakes. If you're going 55 and are 100' from a light when it turns yellow you're not expected to stop. You'll be long past the intersection. If you're in a 25mph zone and 200' from a light when it turns yellow then you've got ample time to slow down gradually. I've seen no data to back up your claim that this will increase rear-end collisions. And in any event, I'm sure that it takes several rear-end collisions to equal the financial and physical damage caused by a single side impact collision. Side impact collisions break bones and crack skulls. Rear end collisions at lights are typically minor accidents.

So, overall, I am in favor of surveillance cameras at intersections. I think this is a step in the right direction.

Sean
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Old 02-22-2007, 05:27 PM
 
Location: Apex, NC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saganista View Post
There are seven localities in VA that have used their own powers to put up red-light cameras over recent years, and total accidents and accidents-with-injury have increased at the vast majority of intersections where they were installed. Some areas have taken them out again on this account.
Rather than provide anecdotal claims, I challenge you to provide links to the studies of those intersections. Every single study I've read of intersections with sufficient traffic to provide empirical results indicates there is a significant cost savings when such cameras are installed. Every single study. Rear-end collisions increase but the total number of accidents decreases at these intersections.

I'll refer you to the federal highway administrations' 2005 findings - http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersections/rlc_guide/index.htm (broken link).

Feel free to point me to the studies you're citing.

Sean
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Old 02-22-2007, 07:32 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seanpecor View Post
I've seen no data to back up your claim that this will increase rear-end collisions.
There are plenty of such data, including a 2005 Washington Post review of six years' worth of red-light camera statistics in DC, and the combined University of Virginia/Virginia Dept of Transportation anlysis that led the state legislature to kill the then-existing VA red-light programs, also in 2005. That's the decision that they just reversed. It isn't, however a cut-and-dried issue. There is, for instance, revenue to the governments involved that doesn't come through taxes. Some people seem to prefer to pay fines than to pay taxes, and some analyses do show, as you contend, that on a net basis, there is overall harm reduction, although nowhere is it near what police and promoters had promised. A yardstick to me is a 2004 study by the Texas DOT that showed consistent reductions in red-light running (35-40%) simply by extending the duration of the yellow signal by 1.0 second. Such levels of reduction are as good as or better than the best numbers claimed for any camera system anywhere, and it obviously costs less...as in next to nothing. The gloom-and-doom numbers that camera companies et al put out attribute every accident wherein a driver failed to heed a red signal as red-light running. They make no attempt to discern whether the driver saw the light was changing and consciously decided he could proceed anyway, or whether, for whatever reason, the driver never saw the light change at all and had no idea that he/she was supposed to stop. Longer yellow's would, and in Texas at least, apparently did cut down on the numbers in both groups. For free...
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Old 02-22-2007, 09:29 PM
 
Location: Apex, NC
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The Washington Post article you cite is oft cited though it is problematic because the article did not consider the severity of crashes nor did it look at the financial cost of the accidents that took place. Both of those metrics are absolutely critical to making a scientific cost benefit analysis. Worse, the Post article also states that the upward trend in accidents were at intersections that LACKED a red light camera. Journalists don't often make very good scientists. But of course the converse is also true, which helps to explain why good scientific data isn't communicated effectively. Further debunking the Post article are several articles in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is an independent, nonprofit, scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses — deaths, injuries, and property damage — from crashes on the nation's highways. An excerpt from one of their articles on the Post report: "Police Department’s Inspector Patrick Burke [said] that a change in the way crash statistics were reported and recorded was instigated between 1999 and 2000. Burke said he informed the reporters of this and cautioned them not to use the data for before-and-after comparisons. Yet the reporters used the invalid dataset."

Further, it is my understanding that Mr Garber's 2005 VDOT/UVA report was based on only six months of data. He was interviewed by the Post, and was quoted extensively. Ultimately, however, Mr Garber's recommendation in the report is to continue the red light camera program. Apparently the Post journalists didn't read that far. And the reversal of the cancellation of the red light camera program was based on Mr Garber's final report, given that he was given the project of conducting the final research to present to the legislature by VDOT with an estimated deadline of 3/21/06.

Personally, I see it as a cut and dry issue. You have the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety calling the Post article incompetent and arguing solidly for red light cameras. You have Mr Garber recommending to the legislature in 2005 that it be maintained, and in 2006 you have him recommending that red light camera enforcement be re-commenced. You have VDOT and various cities in the commonwealth commissioning studies that present hard and fast evidence that RLCs save citizens money and reduce injury severity. And you have federal highway statistics backing up that conclusion. So, unless I'm mistaken, I still haven't seen any study findings that support the opinion that RLC enforcement is a bad thing.

Sean
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Old 02-23-2007, 09:29 AM
 
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Sean...
As usual, you've raised some pertinent and interesting points in this matter. There are however some pertinent and interesting counterpoints that I'd like to see raised as well, and as those might tend to go on for a while, I'll do so in two parts...

Quote:
Originally Posted by seanpecor View Post
The Washington Post article you cite is oft cited though it is problematic because the article did not consider the severity of crashes nor did it look at the financial cost of the accidents that took place. Both of those metrics are absolutely critical to making a scientific cost benefit analysis.
The Post's analysis was done from the best (but also only) data set available -- the accident database of the DC Police. You can analyze only what your data record, and medical expenses ultimately incurred by individuals involved in accidents are not recorded in that database. [The Garber reports that you apparently do not find so problematic similarly, and quite specifically, also exclude analysis of these metrics.] Any study can be criticized because a better one could conceivably have been done, but that doesn't invalidate the results of the study that was done. A better criticism of the Post analysis would have been that even if this was the most comprehensive study possible, there were still only 37 intersections with photo-red cameras installed, and the number of accidents occurring at so small a number of intersections was (thankfully) small enough itself that the statistical certitude that comes from working with sufficiently large samples was not possible in this case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seanpecor View Post
Worse, the Post article also states that the upward trend in accidents were at intersections that LACKED a red light camera.
No, it states that there was also an upward trend at intersections not having cameras. But as for the ones that did, it states the analysis shows that the number of crashes at locations with cameras more than doubled, from 365 collisions in 1998 to 755 last year. Injury and fatal crashes climbed 81 percent, from 144 such wrecks to 262. Broadside crashes, also known as right-angle or T-bone collisions, rose 30 percent, from 81 to 106 during that time frame. There is ample room for debate of what those numbers really mean. But there is one area wherein no debate is possible, and that is that those numbers are far, far different from what camera contractors and other photo-red proponents had claimed they would be in having convinced the District to install the cameras in the first place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seanpecor View Post
Journalists don't often make very good scientists. But of course the converse is also true, which helps to explain why good scientific data isn't communicated effectively.
I'm more than familiar with the effect. But the logical conclusion then is that journalists should report only on journalism, and scientists should constrain themselves to the doing of science. That will have a tendency to leave the rest of us pretty much in the dark in many important areas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seanpecor View Post
Further debunking the Post article are several articles in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is an independent, nonprofit, scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses — deaths, injuries, and property damage — from crashes on the nation's highways. An excerpt from one of their articles on the Post report: "Police Department’s Inspector Patrick Burke [said] that a change in the way crash statistics were reported and recorded was instigated between 1999 and 2000. Burke said he informed the reporters of this and cautioned them not to use the data for before-and-after comparisons. Yet the reporters used the invalid dataset."
The IIHS has a viewpoint. One could compare the IIHS viewpoint to the entirely contrary viewpoint of AAA -- another organization that does not promote deaths, injuries, or property damage. Meanwhile, very few datasets are maintained with 100% consistency over extended time periods. There is variability noise in all of them. Mr. Burke would have needed to identify the nature and implication of the reporting changes, and then demonstrate why those would have made the dataset 'invalid' for the purposes of the Post's study. Just as with other disciplines, police inspectors don't often make good statisticians.
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Old 02-23-2007, 09:33 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seanpecor View Post
Further, it is my understanding that Mr Garber's 2005 VDOT/UVA report was based on only six months of data.
No, the study took six months to complete. Mr. Garber had access to virtually all of the data that existed as of the summer of 2004 for the seven locales that had installed RLC's for the complete time periods over which those RLC's were in operation. Parenthetically, I did find it interesting that Mr. Garber simply discarded the data for any RLC intersection at which the duration of the yellow signal had also been extended. Had it been me, I might have kept those data and offered some comparison of RLC's with and without yellow signal extension, but that isn't what was done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seanpecor View Post
He was interviewed by the Post, and was quoted extensively. Ultimately, however, Mr Garber's recommendation in the report is to continue the red light camera program.
On the grounds that the existing data were insufficient to justify an immediate termination of the programs. His endorsement was for a one-year continuation during which additional data should be collected.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seanpecor View Post
Apparently the Post journalists didn't read that far.
I suspect that they did, given that it is found in Recommendation #1.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seanpecor View Post
And the reversal of the cancellation of the red light camera program was based on Mr Garber's final report, given that he was given the project of conducting the final research to present to the legislature by VDOT with an estimated deadline of 3/21/06.
The reversal was all but entirely a political matter, particularly among rural Republicans who had the fear of God (and Democrats) put in them by last November's election. As further example, Sen. Cuccinelli's amendment to require yellow signal extension as well was defeated only because its passage would have required a revote in the House, and Senate backers feared that they would lose that vote if the House were to get a second crack at RLC's. And there is no second Garber report. There is only a revision and extension of the January 2005 analysis that was released in October 2005. The conclusions from that October analysis are...
1. Red light cameras definitely affect driver behavior.
2. Red light cameras definitely affect intersection safety; whether this impact is positive or negative is unclear.
3. The reason the conclusions of this study differ from those of the recent study...is that the rear-end crashes in this study increased substantially more (by 53% to 60%) than those in the [recent] study (15%).

Quote:
Originally Posted by seanpecor View Post
Personally, I see it as a cut and dry issue.
Everyone is entitled to his own opinion. The same is not true for facts, and the facts in this case are actually not so cut and dried at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seanpecor View Post
You have VDOT and various cities in the commonwealth commissioning studies that present hard and fast evidence that RLCs save citizens money and reduce injury severity. And you have federal highway statistics backing up that conclusion.
No, actually you don't, which is my point here. There are claims and viewpoints among those having vested interests, and then there are actual and independent attempts to seek out the truth of the matter. The latter are not conclusive in either direction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seanpecor View Post
So, unless I'm mistaken, I still haven't seen any study findings that support the opinion that RLC enforcement is a bad thing.
Others may, but I've not claimed that RLC's are a bad thing per se. Just that as politically developed and imposed, and even if taken in the best possible light, they are not at all what they have been purported to be. The studies that exist, whether in Virginia, elsewhere in the US, or abroad are very much a mixed bag of inconclusion.

But then we must also consider the manner in which these RLC programs are being administered. DC claimed it put its cameras at intersections where police and consultants had determined that the most red-light running was occurring. But subsequent AAA analysis shows they were placed at high-volume intersections instead. Seven of the original 38 RLC intersections had seen zero crashes with injury from any cause during the two-year reference period. Of the fifty most accident-prone DC intersections, seventeen got cameras, and thirty-three did not. Across the country in San Diego, the city has just reduced its photo-delay time from an already low 0.4 seconds (it's 0.5 in Virginia) to 0.0 seconds. They will be citing drivers who are not at all guilty of violating the law, they know that, and they have admitted that the change was driven by revenue considerations.

To conclude, the question of what is really going on with RLC's is very much an open and legitimate one. There is no actual argument for their being some sort of invasive and unwarranted example of state nannyism, and neither is there one for their being any sort of public safety panacea that any reasonable type of person ought to support. The truth appears to lie in some mottled gray area in between. The one thing that does seem clear is that local governments and camera contractors are quite happy to divide up the resulting revenue pie between them. Beyond that, well, to keep with the motoring theme, your mileage may vary...
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Old 02-23-2007, 05:37 PM
 
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i don't care if they are good or bad in accident protection, i don't want this cash cow to drain the Americans pocket with out any proof of who was driving, suppose you took your car to a car repair shop and it was being test drove by the mechanic? could you remember if it was you driving to the shop or the mechanic two weeks later? this reeks of as was stated a bold move for a minor problem,
whats next bedroom cameras to make sure you don't break any sodomy laws?
is that to bazaar of a thought? well think about red light cameras 20 years ago....yep that would never happen...well it has where will it stop?
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Old 02-24-2007, 10:19 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by htlong View Post
i don't care if they are good or bad in accident protection, i don't want this cash cow to drain the Americans pocket with out any proof of who was driving, suppose you took your car to a car repair shop and it was being test drove by the mechanic? could you remember if it was you driving to the shop or the mechanic two weeks later? this reeks of as was stated a bold move for a minor problem,
There are legal issues over the matter of whether, under Virginia law, one is actually obligated to pay a photo-red citation, but the situation above isn't one of them. If, instead of a check, you send back (with the understanding that you are doing so as if under oath) an affirmation of the fact that you were not the driver at the time of the alleged infraction and have not been able to ascertain who was, you are essentially off the hook.

Quote:
Originally Posted by htlong View Post
whats next bedroom cameras to make sure you don't break any sodomy laws?
is that to bazaar of a thought? well think about red light cameras 20 years ago....yep that would never happen...well it has where will it stop?
Virginia's sodomy laws are facially unconstitutional under Lawrence, and the legislature knew that and voted to retain them anyway. Still, you have a full expectation of privacy in your home, but only a diminished expectation of privacy while driving on a public road. It is this and only this difference that makes red-light cameras legal even in principle. So unless (or until) Alberto Gonzalez can come up with a way to construe your individual bedroom habits as being a critical component in the Global War on Terror, you pretty much face an extremely low risk of being renditioned off to this particular province of Bizarro-Land...
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