Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cities Begin Shutting Off Intersection Cameras

We at Pound360 feel those cameras at intersections meant to catch people running red lights are pure evil. Nobody on staff has ever been caught by one of these cameras (we don’t think), but the idea of being monitored like this is disturbing.

Pound360 loves technological advancement. But this is one we loathe.

So you can imagine our delight when we stumbled upon
a recent MSNC article reporting, "municipalities across the country are reconsidering red light cameras, which often work too well." Charlotte, NC shut off all their intersection cams recently. Dallas, TX shut down about a quarter of theirs.

Originally, city leaders took the pious stance that intersection cams would "simultaneously save lives and generate millions of dollars in extra fines." As it turns out, the life saving part was just cover. They were really interested in the revenue. You see, at intersections where cameras are installed, motorists are extremely careful. So while violations go down (the life saving part), so does revenue. That's great, right? Keep the lights, yes? No. Since "local governments collect fewer fines," they can't "justify the cost of running them." What about the life saving stuff? How can you put a value on a life!

As it turns out, according to a federal study, the drop in injuries (not even fatalities) at intersections where cameras are installed is "small but measurable." But that's offset a bit by "an increase in some kinds of collisions" (specifically, rear-end crashes by terrified motorists slamming on their breaks to avoid a snapshot).

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.