Thursday, August 2, 2007

Safety Over Intentions

It has been almost a year since the red-light cameras were activated in Houston, Texas. These cameras have always been a controversial issue among Houstonians. Do the red-light cameras actually lower crash rates? Are the cameras only approved to make a profit?
Many Houstonians argue that the only reason legislators approve these red-light camera systems is to make a profit, rathen than for safety reaons. These people have the attitude that they are paying tickets to a government who only cares for profit and not for the safety of the citizens. Is there truth in this argument? It´s a definite posibility. "Between September, when the first 10 cameras went up, and June 30, the Department collect about 3.5 million in revenue. The program has cost about 1.5 million, leaving about $2 million to pay for other public safety programs." (1) Thats a large profit, and that is only in the first year. The department expects to collect $7 million in profits next year. Of course these profits are not invisible to legislators, but the more important question is do these cameras create a safer driving environment? If these cameras lower crash rates, the intention behind them is not very important. More people are injured in crashes involving red light running than in any other crash type. So obviously, red-light running is a problem. From 1994-2005, red light running violations decreased 73% in New York City (2), showing that these cameras are effective. Also, Red light running accidents decreased 30% in the year after red light cameras were installed in Baltimore County , Marlyland. (2). If these cameras are proven to work, then it should not matter if the intention behind them is the profit. Lives are being saved. Also, a new bill has been passed to give half of the camera profits to state trauma centers. Overall, these cameras are proven to work, and althought profit maybe important to legistlators, safety is important to everyone.

(1) http://blogs.chron.com/cityhall/archives/2007/08/redlight_camera_1.html
(2) http://www.houstontx.gov/police/pdfs/ts_facts.pdf

1 comment:

KSeago said...

Interesting. Could the legislation have two purposes: public safety AND revenue?