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article imageOp-Ed: Are red-light and speeding cameras really about safety or money?

By W. Mark Dendy     Nov 12, 2013 in Politics
Chicago - If you have ever studied physics, you know speed equals the distance traveled divided by the time traveled.
But in state and local government argot, speed equals revenue, and cameras that record driver infractions are bureaucratic money machines.
Red-light camera installations were first installed to increase driver safety and decrease red-light accidents. At least that is what law makers want their constituents to believe. Then came the anti-speeding cameras, and the same reasoning was spouted from those the people had placed in power.
Last March, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel cited “concern for children” as his reason for seeking voters’ approval of anti-speeding cameras according to Wall Street Journal.
But the people have become savvy to the real reasons behind the new camera installation program which the Mayor hopes to generate $20 million a year in new revenue.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, an Inspector found "no evidence to substantiate the city’s claim that red-light cameras have either reduced accidents or are installed at the most dangerous intersections," a program put in place by former Mayor Richard M. Daly that now generates $72 million in annual revenue.
So, the question is - what is the real purpose of cameras that record traffic infractions?
The answer seems pretty clear. Make money for the governments.
Last December, the Baltimore Sun reported that a malfunctioning anti-speeding camera had issued a ticket to Daniel Doty for “going 38 miles per hour in a 25-mph zone” in his Mazda. The two time lapsed photos separated by 1.4 seconds included on the mailed citation were evidence.
But what the pictures showed was Doty sitting at a red-light motionless with the brake lights illuminated.
“New Jersey's experience shows that revenues fall off sharply once drivers become aware of the cameras—but accidents don't. Serious T-bones at intersections occur not because a driver willfully ignores a red light but because he's not paying attention—which cameras don't help,” and a number of studies now indicate “red-light cameras are associated with an increase in rear-end collisions as drivers slam on the brakes,” the WSJ reports.
With the accumulation of new information regarding traffic surveillance cameras, it appears that the best course of action one can take when faced with a “yellow light” situation is to not slam on the brakes; instead, pick up the pace, get through the intersection, and smile pretty for the camera. The ticket will come in the mail.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Driver safety, red light cameras, speeding cameras, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, Chicago
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