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The Red Light Camera Debate Endures

Dick Sinnott of Fort Pierce opposes red light cameras. But not for reasons harbored by those who worry about the cameras as an Orwellian government intrusion. (For the record, I don’t agree with Sinnott’s claim that a preponderance of traffic safety studies found no advantage to red light cameras.  My research found quite the opposite, but here’s his letter, unfettered by my views, and without what I consider convincing evidence in support of cameras.  Sinnott writes:

      I read your piece in this morning's Scripps St. Lucie Tribune.  I agree with you that these systems are not so much a question of privacy or constitutional rights.  Though I have heard many people take that position, I don't see it so much.

      That said, I oppose the systems for the simple reason that they are a scam.  They represent an unfair tax for which the person being taxed receives nothing in return.  They offer a specious argument regarding safety that is not persuasive in the least, considering the studies that have been done on these things.

      In case you didn't know, it seems that Australia was actually the first to employ these systems in 1984.  By 1995 the government had studied the results and discovered that while there may indeed be a reduction in right-angle crashes, there is an increase in rear-end collisions as drivers react with panic stops.

      Studies in Canada, Virginia, Washington DC, Charlotte NC and most recently last year at the USF in Tampa all reach the same basic conclusion.  The safety improvement is illusory, and the chances of a net loss of safety are quite good.

      In May a national poll found 69 percent of Americans felt thus and so?  That's hardly compelling.  In 2003 the vast majority of Americans felt that Iraq was in possession of WMD and a threat to the national security.  Back in the 1400's the majority of the populace thought that the world was flat.  Americans are easily misled.



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Dick Sinnott


Which studies have you seen that demonstrate a safety advantage?


"Watching" people does not make them act any safer, you just make them paranoid. Lets face it, like everything else government does the stated purpose (which is usually benevolent sounding – i.e. reduce traffic injuries) is almost never the real motivation behind a “program”. Lowered speed limits in the name of safety are just a way of producing revenue by creating a ridiculous low limit that is unrealistic and difficult to maintain – the speed trap. These cameras are nothing more than that, a revenue producing device. In some places they even sink as low as shortening yellow light times to trick drivers into running a red…low. The best way to keep their thieving hands out of your pocket is to know where the cameras are an avoid them. The simplest way is to use your GPS unit with data you can get at a site like http://www.gpscameradetector.com.

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