Speed Cameras Save Lives

In 2012 1310 people died on Pennsylvania roads, that’s larger than the population of 994 municipalities in the State and equal to one fourth of the population of Cameron County. That grim statistic includes 168 pedestrians and 16 bicyclists. Speeding was the primary cause of 371 traffic deaths.

Speed cameras have been found to reduce crashes and injuries. Washington DC recently published a report that included crash and injury trends at 257 speed camera locations. The report looked at crash data for those locations up to 3 years prior to camera installation, and for up to 3 years after camera installation. The results found a 15% reduction in crashes in 20% reduction in injuries.

In Pennsylvania State Senator Mike Stack has introduced a bill in the PA Senate S1211 which authorizes the use of speed cameras on US1 (Roosevelt Boulevard) in Philadelphia.

The idea of using cameras to catch drivers doing what they shouldn’t draws in populist ideas of big brother and that the cameras are cash cows for strapped municipalities. And the media eats it up. For example an article in Phillymag.com recently carried this headline - Roosevelt Boulevard Crashes Have Increased Since Red Light Cameras – True, but perhaps it should have read Roosevelt Boulevard Fatalities Decline 65% Since Red Light Cameras (from 124 to 43 over 4 years). Minor fender benders have increased but fewer people are dying, and that’s the point. Furthermore those crash statistics were taken for the entire highway not just the 8 intersections with red light cameras.

Much of the populist rabble rousing has come from the National Motorists Association (NMA). The NMA also opposes current DUI laws , black boxes in cars and traffic calming in general, claiming that the relationship between the speed of a striking vehicle and pedestrian mortality is greatly exaggerated. They also have proposed a $20,000 stop sign tax on the responsible agency (based on alleged time lost and fuel consumed).


National Motorists Association

Finally let’s talk about revenue. It is likely that Speed Camera revenues will follow a process similar to the Red Light Camera program in Pennsylvania. The costs of maintaining and administering the cameras are deducted from revenues by the sponsor, in this case its the Philadelphia Parking Authority. The remaining surplus is then deposited into a restricted PENNDOT Motor License Fund account. This account known as ARLE is disbursed to municipalities through a competitive grant program to fund transportation safety improvement projects across the state.

Finally speed cameras should part of a more comprehensive approach to traffic safety. Along Roosevelt Blvd PennDOT’s safety efforts have included signalizing five mid-block crosswalks; removing five mid-block crosswalks; installing twelve pull-off areas in the median to provide police a safe location for enforcement and a visual presence; enhancing median pedestrian refuge areas in two locations; and installing speed advisory signs on three bridges over the Boulevard.

As Professor Stephen Glaister Director Royal Automobile Club Foundation which published a comprehensive report on the subject in 2010 - “Speed cameras should never be the only weapon in the road safety armory, but neither should they be absent from the battle.”


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6 Responses to Speed Cameras Save Lives

  1. Tom McCarey says:

    RADAR should be banned in Pennsylvania. There is no epidemic crisis of speeding, only an epidemic crisis of highway engineering malpractice allied with and abetted by politicians seeking more and more money from safe drivers.

    Speed is a cause of accidents 5% of the time, according to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) [DOT HS 811 059 National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey]. Speed as a cause of accidents when traffic is free flowing is a rare event, yet this is when the majority of citations are written. Speed traps are staged where it is safe to drive faster to make it easy for the cops to write tickets.

    Yet, 50 years of government propaganda and misinformation about highway safety makes it easy for our elected servants to declare that unless we give local police radar guns, everybody’s going to die! And far too many otherwise reasonable people agree, so in the end, the special interests who profit from RADAR, the RADAR manufacturers, the politicians, the police, and the courts, get their go-ahead to unfairly tax drivers.

    Posted speed limits are at the bottom of all of this. What is the safe speed and who decides? If it were up to the politicians, we’d be driving cars that could only 20 miles per hour, and that would suit the do-gooders just fine. The core tenet of reasonable traffic laws, safety and due process is that the super majority of people act in a safe and responsible manner, and they do drive safely for the conditions present. An engineering concept known as the 85th
    percentile very simply says that 85 out of 100 motor vehicles will normally travel at or below a speed which is reasonable and prudent. It is the safest speed with the most compliance. But that makes the job of the police, that is, to collect taxes for the government, very difficult indeed.

    The Federal Highway Safety Administration (FHwA) found that 90% of the time speed limits are posted 8 to 16 miles per hour too slow [Report No. FHWA-RD-92-084 Effects of Raising and Lowering Speed Limits] . Because politicians respond to complaints from uninformed and misled constituants about “speeders” they push for arming all police state-wide with RADAR guns, while keeping limits too low and withholding NHTSA and FHwA statistics showing that there is no crisis.

    Arbitrarily, unrealistic speed zones cannot be expected to reduce accidents and may, in fact, adversely affect traffic safety by confusing drivers and increasing speed differentials. Hunting down drivers with RADAR guns will not improve highway safety, and the unfair and unnecessary enforcement of too-low limits will foster contempt for law enforcement. Money is the one and only reason for RADAR. Call your representative and your senator and tell them to stop the nonsense and ban radar in Pennsylvania. Thank you.

    Tom McCarey

    Berwyn, PA 19312
    610 687 7607

  2. Tom McCarey says:

    Proof from England: speed cameras increase accidents, injuries, and deaths: the UK government’s safety claims do not stand up under honest statistical scrutiny (www.thenewspaper.com/news/44/4433.asp).Camera enforcement in Pennsylvania must be banned immediately.

    Pro-camera studies fail to account for the statistical phenomenon known as regression to the mean. Speed cameras are often installed in locations that have experienced an unusually high number of collisions. Even without taking any corrective steps, accidents will likely fall back to the average or mean number of collisions. In fact, you are safer on the highway without photo RADAR and red light ticket cameras.

    Yet the people who profit from photo traffic enforcement, the politicians, the auto insurers, the camera makers and their army of lobbyists, the police and the courts, claim big reductions in accidents even as the Philadelphia Police Department reports an increase in accidents at every camera-controlled intersection. Corporate profits and government spending are more important to these people than the lives of motorists.

    Over 40 independent studies show that camera enforcement for profit increases accidents, injuries and deaths (www.bhspi.org). It is time we confront the promoters of these fraudulent devices and vote them out of office.
    Thank you.

    Tom McCarey

    Berwyn, PA 19312
    610 687 7607

  3. Tom McCarey says:

    Flood your Senator and Representative with letters, emails, calls, and faxes and demand an end to automated traffic enforcement for profit, no RADAR for local police, and no photo RADAR.

    US HOUSE APPROVES BAN ON FEDERAL TRAFFIC CAMERA FUNDING(http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/44/4437.asp)
    License plate readers and photo enforcement cameras will not receive federal funding under House-passed legislation.

    The US House of Representatives voted 255 to 172 last Tuesday in favor of a ban on federal funding of red light cameras, speed cameras and automated license plate readers (ALPR or ANPR). Representative John Fleming (R-Louisiana) proposed the measure as an amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill which has yet to be taken up by the Senate.

    Finally, elected leaders in Washington, D.C. are doing what Pennsylvania’s public servants should have done long ago. However, taxing safe motorists unfairly with fraudulent technology is more in keeping with the character of the characters in Harrisburg. Never mind that red light ticket cameras increase accidents, injuries and fatalities. Never mind that photo RADAR will do the same. It is more important for Senator Rafferty, Nicholas Micozzie, the rest of the legislature and their camera lobby benefactors to lie and get the money than worry about life and limb of their subjects.

    We know they are up to no good. Call, write, email and fax and tell them that we are on to them, and will vote them out this November unless they ban camera enforcement for profit in Pennsylvania.

    Tom McCarey
    Berwyn, PA 19312
    610 687 7607

  4. LinuxGUy says:

    I think you should review the amount of errors the Baltimore speed cameras had. They were substantial. A truck from AAA got a speed camera ticket while STOPPED. I also urge you to check out the Maryland Drivers’ Alliance. They document the nonsense going on down there.

    There is a lot of naivety with cameras, as you have poor traffic engineering and predatory enforcement. Correcting deficiencies will solve most problems. Cameras are for the bucks ONLY.

  5. Pingback: Traffic Enforcement Is Not About Safety | PopularResistance.Org

  6. Pingback: Traffic Enforcement Is Not About Safety | Asheville Anon

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