Pasco County Auto Accidents – Do Red Light Cameras Help?

I wrote my first (and only other) blog article about Red Light Cameras back at the end of 2009, addressing if they really would reduce auto accidents in Pasco County.  The City of New Port Richey was moving forward with a plan to install Red Light Camera’s (RLC), and I was opposed.  The following is but one reason I cited that is cut from my blog of three years ago:

Pasco_Auto_Accidents
Studies show that RLCs may not reduce Auto Accidents in Pasco County or throughout Florida.

The vast majority of data that I came across supported that the safety argument was bogus.  You can read this article from the Washington Post, this study that was prepared for the United States Department of Transportation, and this story from Los Angeles indicating that the cameras may make intersections more dangerous if anything.  It seems like most of the data that supports the safety argument comes from within the industry that stands to profit from the use of these devices.

Although not a traffic engineer, my own subjective thinking would be that the safety argument lacks merit based on common sense.  First of all, we live in a state that has many tourists, and thus there would be many motorists unfamiliar with the location of these cameras.  Thus, a resident who is familiar with the camera may slam on his breaks for fear of a ticket, while the tourist following behind, not familiar with the camera, crashes into the back of the resident.  Additionally, even those familiar may be tempted to speed up as they approach a camera to “beat” the light, which would not create more safety for the intersection.

I just did not see how installing these devices would reduce automobile accidents in New Port Richey, or throughout Pasco County.  Therefore, there was no public safety benefit in that personal injuries from car accidents would not be reduced.

I also cited the following other reasons for my opposition to these devices:

IV.   Other Misc Reasons

Lack of ability to enforce;

Inability to identify driver, and thus placing the burden (and cost) on the owner to defend himself or herself (due process Constitutionality issues);

The ability to “tamper” with the duration of yellow lights where cameras in order to generate greater revenue; and,

 Concerns with Government transparency.  In other words, local and county governments would argue that they were installing this device for safety reasons, when clearly it was a revenue raising measure in the face plummeting revenue streams to the budget.

Fast forward to today, and it would appear that many of my concerns have be proven valid.  Some Florida Courts have found the cameras to be unconstitutional, and studies continue to be published that demonstrate that RLCs do no reduce car accidents or personal injury in Pasco County and elsewhere.   In fact, the Florida House has introduced Bill 4011, which would make red light cameras illegal.   It will be interesting to follow this bill, and see if Red Light Cameras are soon a memory in not just New Port Richey, but Pasco County and throughout the State of Florida.