The outgoing mayor here in Midland, Texas, kept bring up the subject so often one had to assume that red light camera industry lobbyists must have really been after him. It would be interesting to see results of an open records request for all correspondence between him and anyone with an interest in or working for the red light camera industry.
With an election coming up voters will be looking at the candidates' take on it. It was a relief the other day to read that two of the four mayoral candidates, Dan Anderson and Kathy White, have come flat out against red light cameras.
Unfortunately, the two front runners were less committed. Jerry Morales pointed out some of the negatives but left an awful lot of wiggle room. And John James was silent on the subject, leaving us to assume it is definitely on the table if he gets to be mayor.
There seems to be this obsession with red light runners. When we think of red light runners we picture someone who deliberately runs an unambiguous red light. But that's usually not the situation, in fact, that's probably quite rare. Instead it's the driver who runs a yellow light that turns red while he/she is still in the intersection or that maybe turned red before he/she entered the intersection. As it is, when a green light turns yellow the driver is faced with an immediate decision. Stop or keep going.
But if the intersection has a red light camera that will encourage the immediate stop irrespective of the car following. Thus more rear end collisions.
There are two easy solutions which together could solve the perceived problem. One is longer yellow lights. The other is a visible countdown so drivers can anticipate when the light is about to turn yellow and adjust their speed accordingly.
Then there's the money making aspect. Politicians don't like the complaints they get when they raise taxes, so they fall all over themselves trying to explain that they really don't like to raise taxes. So the red light camera is their solution. It raises money and they can still claim to be in favor of low taxes. In fact, it raises so much money that it has led many to believe that's the main reason municipal governments want them. It's all about the money.
Finally, for evidence that red light cameras increase accidents see the studies listed at motorists.org.