States That Ban Traffic Safety Cams Put Their Own Residents’ Lives at Risk

In France, speeding cameras are credited with saving more than 15,000 lives over seven years. Image: Accident Analysis and Prevention
Speed cameras are credited with saving more than 15,000 lives over seven years in France. Image: Accident Analysis and Prevention

In Ohio, lawmakers are now poised to outlaw traffic safety cameras, needlessly obstructing efforts to save lives. Similar bills were taken up this year in statehouses in Iowa, South Dakota and Missouri. According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, 12 states have laws that forbid speed cameras under most circumstances.

If enacted, these laws will certainly end up costing a lot of innocent people their lives. A 2010 review of dozens of studies indicates that speed cameras always have a positive effect on street safety, typically reducing fatality rates by around 30 to 40 percent where they are installed. One of the most impressive case studies, on a national scale, is France.

Since the French government began its crackdown on speeding about a dozen years ago, annual traffic fatalities have been reduced by more than half, from 7,242 in 2002 to 3,250 in 2013. That is more than double the rate of improvement in the United States over the same period. Researchers attribute a major portion of that reduction to the installation of about 3,000 speed cameras across the nation.

Following the adoption of a new set of street safety policies by President Jacques Chirac in 2002 — including stricter penalties for traffic violations — and the installation of cameras in 2003, enforcement of speeding increased dramatically, from about 100,000 tickets per month to about 500,000. About 87 percent of those citations were issued by cameras.

In a 2012 study in the Journal of Accident Analysis and Prevention, researchers set out to determine how many deaths and injuries were prevented by France’s wide-scale adoption of automated speed enforcement, developing statistical models to isolate the effect of the cameras. In the first two years following implementation, they estimate that speed cameras prevented 4,498 fatalities.

The improvement had staying power. Over seven years, the authors attribute the cameras with saving 15,193 lives. An additional 62,000 non-fatal injuries were avoided as well, according to the study.

In France, speed cameras had popular and political support. Study authors Laurent Carnisa and Etienne Blais note that even the French media generally supported automated enforcement — in contrast to American media outlets that often seem more eager to exploit motorist resentment than to convey the public safety benefits.

The takeaway from France is that powerful tools to prevent traffic deaths are at our disposal and can be put to use almost immediately, if our elected representatives can muster the will.

75 thoughts on States That Ban Traffic Safety Cams Put Their Own Residents’ Lives at Risk

  1. As a French, I can say that speed cameras were and still are not popular even if the positive effect is undeniable.
    They are just seen as a way for the state to make money which is really a shame.

  2. That graph makes it look like traffic injuries/fatalities were already on a downward trend — and it looks like the rate of decay slowed (meaning traffic injuries/deaths decreased less than they otherwise would had the traffic cams not been installed).

    Not saying the science is wrong (in fact it looks quite rigorous), just saying the visual doesn’t do much to bolster your case.

    EDIT: Conclusion of article states “Results indicate that the French
    ASEP played a major role in improving safe driving, despite the
    decaying effect observed for non-fatal traffic injuries”

    keyword in quote: despite

  3. The more scientifically rigorous studies all show little or no or even a negative safety benefit to cameras. Cameras cannot fix poor road design, sub-optimal light timing, visibility problems, inappropriate limits, poor or inadequate signs, and many other problems so fining car owners when they are a victim of an engineering deficiency does nothing to help. But when studies factor in selection bias, reversion to the mean, regional and national trends, comparison to control locations, and isolating factors, the data just isn’t there to show the safety improvement.
    Also, in order to be profitable, only road locations with engineering deficiencies are chosen. For example, an intersection or road with few crashes is not safe because there are better drivers on that road. The difference is in the engineering.

    IMO, if they worked as well as claimed the effect would be clear, obvious, and substantial but the truth is that they simply do not improve safety. The people getting tickets are not the maniac you encounter occasionally but who the police and politicians try to paint as the target of these devices, but it is your spouse, your parents, your co-workers – all people who are probably safe and responsible drivers and probably have fairly clean driving and accident records. You can’t correct the “behavior” of someone who already drivers safely and responsibly

  4. A remedy like deploying speed cameras doesn’t need to fix all sources of safety problems (poor road design, sub-optimal light timing, visibility problems, etc.) to be beneficial.

    If it has the positive effect of saving lives by discouraging speeding then it is a good thing.

  5. No they don’t. I’m sorry, that is a fantasy. This is a peer reviewed journal article called accident prevention. It doesn’t get any more rigorous than this. And there are dozens of other studies that show the same thing. The science is absolutely unassailable.

  6. “The people getting tickets are not the maniac you encounter occasionally but who the police and politicians try to paint as the target of these devices, but it is your spouse, your parents, your co-workers – all people who are probably safe and responsible drivers and probably have fairly clean driving and accident records.”

    Riiiiiiggghht. You know, because all those accidents in the US that kill 10’s of thousands and injure millions are only caused by maniacs, not anybody who is “safe and responsible” with a “fairly clean” record. That’s right, turns out most accidents aren’t caused by anybody you know or love, but freaks and criminals. Everybody driving, especially your loved ones, are perfectly safe and never takes risks like speeding, running that red light, or just taking a quick look at your phone.

  7. OK, so I trust that you never let any of you loved ones drive then because they are dangers to everyone else?

  8. Sorry, you need to do more research. Try the studes from USF like this one

    “Rather than improving motorist safety, red-light cameras significantly increase crashes and are a ticket to higher auto insurance premiums, researchers at the University of South Florida College of Public Health conclude. The effective remedy to red-light running uses engineering solutions to improve intersection safety, which is particularly important to Florida’s elderly drivers, the researchers recommend.”

    Why do you oppose engineering solutions and the application of the science known as traffic engineering? How do you explain having two roads, one with very few crashes and one with many? Do you think there is a difference in the drivers?

  9. Yes, why fix the problems with when you can CASH IN on them? That is of course the purpose of speed cameras, let’s not kid ourselves.
    The safest speed to travel is the 85th percentile speed which is usually NOT what the speed limits are actually set to. So when the limits are not set correctly or set too low then we are punishing drivers for a safe behavior.
    If what you really believe is correct and if you think that you can actually control speed with speed limits (which has also been dis-proven), then you should be advocating for a universal 10mph speed limit because someone like you would consider the existing speed limits to be too high.

  10. First, yes, I do my best to try and encourage my family and friends not to drive. It’s nuts that we think using 4,000 lbs and 200 hp to move 1.4 people plus a bag around is either good for us, the planet, or the livabiity of our cities.

    Second, you’re missing my point. We all have loved ones who drive, and they are the same people who will be careless when behind a 4,000 lb vehicle with 200 hp. I mean, we all are (including myself) vulnerable because the car is inherently dangerous. So what I’m saying is that it makes sense to carefully control how we use such vehicles and to do our best to encourage people not to use them, and when they do use them, to pay the hell attention and drive safely, and accept the consequences when they mess up. And traffic cameras (as well as all other forms of enforcement) do a great job at reminding all of us to pay attention when operating such dangerous vehicles because we clearly aren’t thinking the majority of time. We have a culture that thinks driving such a dangerous vehicle around is a right which is exactly why people flip out when they start getting called out speeding, running right lights, etc., whether by camera or cop. This attitude needs to change because driving a car, at least for how the vast majority of people use it most of the time, imposes huge costs on our society. And it’s ridiculous that people think that trying to extract some of that cost, however small, from drivers when they mess up (unintentional or not) is unfair.

  11. The safest speed to travel is the 85th percentile speed which is usually NOT what the speed limits are actually set to.

    The safest speed for whom? Car drivers only? Or does that calculation take into account pedestrians, bicyclists, and other people who are on the roads?

  12. The Los Angeles county Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) uses red light cameras along rail and BRT intersections because its effective in preventing collisions. The MTA does not make money on the red light cameras, they use them because they reduce incidents at intersections. A car driver knows in no uncertain terms that they did something wrong when a bright light flashes in their eyes from running a red light and then they get a ticket in the mail that reinforces that they did something wrong. This will change driving behavior.

    For the Orange Line BRT the MTA tried bright flashing lights attached to the side of buses (had to get an exemption for that), flashing large led signs that display a picture of a bus, red lights embedded into the roadway, slowing the buses down to 10 mph at intersections and flashing yellow lights for the bus drivers at some intersections instead of green lights. At the Sepulveda intersection the red light violations dropped from 20 a month down to 2 after the installation of red light cameras.

    Having longer yellow lights for cars at Orange Line intersections would not eliminate the problem. I’ve seen several cars just fly through the intersection well after the light had turned red because they didn’t seem to notice that any of the red lights were even there. This is very dangerous not only from the standpoint that a bus might slam into them, but also because pedestrians and bicycle riders are proceeding through the crosswalk from the bike path. I’ve seen several cars nearly hit pedestrians and bicycles (me for instance) at intersections without the red light cameras.

    The MTA only installed red light cameras at intersections where they were having the most problems with collisions or near misses from cross traffic going through red lights. The Orange Line busway is only a two lane roadway where buildings are usually very close. This narrows the peripheral vision of the bus driver and creates a situation where the bus driver may not be able to stop in time if a car driver runs a red light.

    There is also problems with bicycle riders not noticing the red light at the Orange Line busway when they ride in the street. Unfortunately, the red light cameras aren’t triggered by bicycle riders. A bicycle riders head went through the windshield of a Orange Line bus one time. Another time a bicycle rider rode in the street through a red light at the Orange Line busway intersection and the bus driver had to slam on his brakes to avoid colliding with the bicycle rider. The bicycle rider turned onto the parallel bike path and the bus driver drove slowly next to her honking furiously. The bike rider did not even notice because she had ear plugs on and was impervious of what was happening around her.

  13. No, but I remind them whenever I can not to use their cell phones, not to speed, make illegal u-turns, … avoiding bad driving behaviors in general.

  14. There is NO safety benefit whatsover to speed cameras or red light cameras.
    Cars are much safer today than they were 10 years ago.
    But as someone posted below – why fix the problems when you can cash in on it.

    The great thing about the US is that we are democracy, and the people have spoken in states where cameras are banned, and rightfully so. Believe me- there will not be a sudden increase in deaths because the cameras are gone.

    This post sounds like it was written a shill for the camera company. Wow, talk about come BS.

  15. “There is NO safety benefit whatsover to speed cameras or red light cameras.” Ok, I’ll just take your assurances over the mountain of actual data compiled by experts indicating the opposite, anonymous commenter.

  16. Ok Angie – the data you presented is biased and funded by people who support “for profit” photo enforcement. When the public votes, they most always say NO,
    Your assertation that states are putting people’s lives at risk by not using speed cameras is the biggest stretch I’ve ever seen.
    Why don’t you perform analysis of states which use photo enforcement and states which don’t, and show what a bloodbath it is in the states that don’t? Maybe that would prove your point. Now that Cleveland voted to end photo enforcement, are you worried for your life?
    Thankfully, most Americans, unlike you, don’t want to live in a nanny state with the government trying to tell people what’s best for them. Most people, unlike you, are adults and can make responsible choices.
    Oh, and if you’d like to discuss futher, I’ll be happy to provide my contact information so you can call me and really try and explain how speed cameras save lives.

  17. People like Angie don’t believe in engineering or facts. Instead, people like her think the government knows what’s best for people, and refuse to believe facts.

  18. Umm – you’re forgetting that despite the reduction in deaths due to auto on auto crashes, there has been a rise in death and injury to people walking and riding bicycles on or across our roads. The primary risk factor in those collisions as to how serious the injuries can be is speed. Banning cameras shows most clearly how a vulnerable minority (in this case people walking or biking to their jobs, etc.) have their rights trampled on by a biased, reactionary majority who simply don’t understand that going 5 mph over the speed limit (say the difference between 25 mph and 30 mph) increases the risk of serious injury and death for a pedestrian from 10% to 40%.

  19. Cities around the world give tickets to drivers who travel through red lights. The reason for that is the increased danger of severe injury when people do not follow the rules.

    You seem to be advocating that there should not be tickets handed out for people driving through red lights. The reasons you give are that drivers are adults that can make responsible choices, we don’t want tickets to handed out for those that run red lights, this would somehow create a nanny state and giving tickets to people that run red lights would not increase safety.

    Clearly cities around the world have made a bad mistake for decades of ticketing drivers for running red lights according to your logic.

  20. DC: Speed Cameras Have Not Improved Traffic Safety
    Accident rates have not improved in Washington, DC after issuing $500 million in speed and red light camera tickets.

    UK: Injuries And Accident Rise In 20 MPH Zones
    Accidents and injuries rise in new 20 MPH zones in England.

    UK: Revised Analysis Finds Accidents Increase With Speed Cameras
    Engineer Dave Finney examines Thames Valley, UK speed camera data and finds an increase in injuries after the devices were installed.

    Australia: Territory Auditor Blasts ACT Speed Cameras
    Government audit of Australian Capital Territory speed camera program finds no safety rationale behind deployment and use of the devices.

    Arizona: County Dumps Speed Cameras As Ineffective
    Photo radar fails to reduce accidents in Pima County, Arizona so board of supervisors cancel program.

    Australia: Report Questions Speed Camera Motivation

    Economists measure road safety performance of South Australia and question whether public policy is geared more toward revenue generation.

    Saudi Arabia: Speed Cameras Fail To Reduce Accidents
    Trauma medicine researcher in Saudi Arabia concludes the single-minded
    police obsession with speed makes roads more dangerous.

    Reports: Speeding Not A Cause Of Child Accidents
    Reports from the UK and Washington state suggest speed does not play a major role in child or pedestrian accidents.

    UK: Government Admits Scotland Speed Camera Stats Were Faulty

    UK Statistics Authority report slams government of Scotland for producing misleading speed camera safety claims.

    Scotland: Officials Scale Back Inflated Speed Camera Benefit Claims
    Scotland delays release of speed camera report after statistics found to be

    Australia: Report Finds Need For Speed Camera Transparency
    New South Wales, Australia parliamentary committee finds state government
    misleads on speed-related accident data.

    UK: Complaint Lodged Against Dodgy Speed Camera Statistics
    UK Advertising Standards Authority investigating claims of speed camera

    Former Australian Road Safety Official Questions Speed Emphasis
    Road safety conference presentation in Australia urged officials to end
    the obsession with speed enforcement.

    UK: Road Fatalities and Injuries Rise Despite Cameras
    The UK speed camera enforcement policy has failed to reduce either road
    injuries or road fatalities.

    Ireland: Whistleblower Exposes Faulty Speed Camera Equipment
    Irish television finds speed camera company ignores warnings about faulty
    equipment and setup procedures.

    Maryland: Audit Finds Thousands Of Inaccurate Speed Camera Citations
    Audit finds over 36 percent of speed camera tickets issued in Baltimore,
    Maryland to be questionable or obviously bogus.

    Speed Camera Fines Challenged Worldwide
    Officials in Austria, Australia and Italy face the prospect of refunding thousands of inappropriate speed camera fines.

    Third Maryland Jurisdiction Forced To Refund Illegal Tickets
    More than 4000 illegally issued tickets to be refunded in Waldorf, Maryland.

    Australia: Safety Official Seeks Refund Of 987 Speed Camera Tickets
    Road safety commissioner in Victoria, Australia finds 987 motorists were
    tricked in a speed camera trap.

    Maryland: Speed Camera Company Admits 5.2 Percent Error Rates
    Xerox admits several of its cameras in Baltimore, Maryland issued tickets
    to innocent motorists 5.2 percent of the time.

    Italy: Top Cop Arrested For Speed Camera Bribery
    Hidden cameras catch police commander in Spotorno, Italy for taking bribes from a speed camera company.

    Cop Sues Over DC Speed Camera Program
    Police sergeant fights back over speed camera retaliation in Washington, DC.

  21. FWIW, you picked a bad graphic for this article. The paper it appears in says, “In fact, Fig. 1 shows that the downward trends in fatal as well as in non-fatal traffic injuries per 100,000 vehicles started before introduction of the ASEP.”, despite eventually concluding that ASEP did have a significant effect.

  22. “Automated red-light enforcement using cameras has shown to be effective in reducing the incidence of red-light running and the number of red-light running crashes.”

    “Speed cameras can substantially reduce speeding violations and injury crashes.”

    “…safety cameras appear to generate a worthwhile improvement in driver behavior.”

    “Speeding is a one of the major causes of crashes, deaths and injuries on the Nation’s roadways. Speeding has consistently been a contributing cause in approximately 30 percent of all motor vehicle crashes over the last 10 years. The primary reason for managing traffic speeds is safety.”

    “Automated speed enforcement (ASE) systems are an important element in speed management and can be an effective countermeasure to prevent speed-related crashes.”

  23. My links to other studies was intended to counter the following claim made by the author of this opinion piece: “speed cameras always have a positive effect on street safety,”

    Clearly they don’t “always” have a positive effect. The best way to reduce speeds on roadways (assuming that is a necessary goal) is to change the nature of the roadway. Note that the link I provided above lists engineering countermeasures that can be employed to reduce speeds and the percentage decrease that can be expected. Engineering countermeasures are permanent, don’t require the ticketing of tens of thousands of your fellow citizens, and don’t waste other resources. If your goal is to actually improve safety, you would embrace these types of countermeasures.

  24. That is a source that provides links to the original source. It is a depository of information, not the source of the original studies. So it is not from a singe source, that is just the conduit to the variety of studies, reports, etc, that contradict the claims made in the original opinion piece. If you are open minded you would read what is linked to and then the original sources, rather than just making ad hominem attacks on the source.

  25. Do Speed Cameras Reduce Collisions?
    (That’s the National Institutes of Health, US National Library of Medicine)


    We investigated the effects of speed cameras along a 26 mile segment in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona. Motor vehicle collisions were retrospectively
    identified according to three time periods – before cameras were placed, while cameras were in place and after cameras were removed. A 14 mile segment in the same area without cameras was used for control purposes. Five cofounding variables were eliminated. In this study, the placement or removal of interstate highway speed cameras did not independently affect the incidence of motor vehicle collisions.

    From the Discussion:

    [Here they reference the Cochran Review article referenced in the opinion piece above (which the author of that opinion piece calls “unassailable”.)]

    A recent Cochrane review examining 35 studies investigating the effect of speed cameras on speed and collisions concluded that although the quality of the studies was moderate at best, the consistency of all studies to report a positive reduction in either speed or collisions was impressive [Wilson et al, 2011]. Five of these studies were performed in the US with the remainder being largely European and Australian (speeding tolerances vary by country and driver attitudes toward speeding). [Cunningham et al, 2005; Retting et al, 2008; Retting and Farmer, 2005; Retting et al, 2008; Shin et al, 2009]. Only two of these US studies examined number of MVC specifically. One study examined a 6.5 mile stretch of highway in Scottsdale, Arizona during the six speed camera pilot program and reported an average 51% reduction in MVC. This program ran from January 2006 to October 2006. [Shin et al, 2009]. They analyzed data from a speed camera pilot program; however, despite a thorough analysis, the post camera period they measured was only 1.5 months long and started the day after the cameras were removed, therefore
    not taking any time halo effect into effect. In addition, the length of highway segment was short at only 6.5 miles and did not have a control. The other US study reporting on crash reduction of 12% was conducted from 2000–2004 in North Carolina [Cunningham, 2006]. Criticism of this study was that the cameras were only in place for 4 months.

    Note also that the author of many of the above referenced studies, Richard Retting, is a well know shill for the automated enforcement industry personally profiting from promoting the use of automated ticketing machines.
    Retting worked as a “researcher” (he’s not an engineer) for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an organization paid for by the automobile insurance industry which reaps windfall profits through higher insurance rates when more tickets are issued. Also, many of the studies were done for government agencies that have an interest in proving their enforcement policies have been effective.

  26. Looking at the previous page of your link under the heading Speed Management Safety, the first paragraph states: “Speeding—traveling too fast for conditions or in excess of the posted speed limits—is a factor in almost one-third of all fatal crashes.”

    In the next paragraph it states “Speeding is a complex issue involving engineering, driving behavior, education, and enforcement.” The word enforcement can involve handing out tickets for violations. Your clearly trying to reduce or eliminate the enforcement part of dealing with the problem of speeding.

    One of the five safety principles that the Dutch employ is homogeneity of mass, speed and direction. Someone who drives far in excess of what others are driving is going to increase the risk of a collision and serious injury to not only occupants of motor vehicles but also vulnerable pedestrians or bicycle riders. Automated enforcement is one tool that could be used to reduce the number of violators by changing drivers behavior.

    If your goal is to improve safety, then you would recognize that engineering, driving behavior, education, and enforcement are all needed to lower the risk of injuries due to traffic collisions. Automation increases the ability to change driving behavior by having enforcement 24/7.

  27. Those links are all providing someones slanted viewpoint on a subject. That website is trying to spread propaganda rather than taking an objective look at the subject.

  28. The Los Angeles County MTA is not cashing in on drivers who run red lights by installing photo enforcement cameras. They installed cameras to reduce the number of drivers running red lights where trains or a dedicated busway cross streets. The MTA installed these cameras where they were having the most problems with drivers going through red lights.

    I’ve found that drivers are following the rules more closely in most regards (not just running red lights) where there are red light cameras than where there isn’t any. They are much more courteous towards pedestrians in crosswalks for instance. Go a few blocks away from the Orange BRT line where there is camera enforcement and the driving behavior is noticeably different with drivers acting much more aggressively by encroaching on the crosswalks when pedestrians are using them.

    The speed limits in California are usually posted at the 85th percentile. If that is not done, then law enforcement cannot issue tickets using radar or laser. What ends up happening is that drivers set the speed limit.

    There is one street near me in Los Angeles where the speed limit is posted as 30 mph and yet the 85% of the drivers are now going 45 mph and a section of this street passes right next to a high school. Law enforcement wants the speed limit raised. One person that objected to raising the speed asked that the police enforce the current law. A policeman stated in response that they would have to be out there 24/7 and there isn’t enough manpower to do that. Obviously, camera enforcement could be done 24/7.

  29. The DC link it provides goes to a compilation of crash statistics from several years after the cameras were installed in some parts of the city with no section about the effects of cameras.

    The author of the site with the link argues that the cameras are useless because they are on some of the safest roads in the city, but someone who supports cameras could easily argue that those roads are safe because of the cameras.

  30. That’s rich considering the propaganda that’s routinely spread on this website demonizing anyone who drives an automobile. And you still miss the point or are intentionally ignoring it. Whether you like that site or not, that doesn’t negate the value of the information that is linked to there. You are employing an ad hominem attack on the site because the information there doesn’t agree with your preconceived notions.

    Those links go to independent studies that show speed cameras have not been effective, at least in the cases being studied. And again, the information is being provided to counter the original claim that “speed cameras always have a positive effect on street safety,”. Considering that there are other valid studies showing no safety benefit from the use of ticketing cameras, the original statement in the article cannot objectively be considered to be true. That would put the original statement and basically the entire slant of the article fully in the category of “propaganda”.

  31. The problem is that automated enforcement isn’t targeted at people who drive “far in excess of what others are driving”. If it was, I actually wouldn’t have a problem with using it. The fact is that there is a strong profit motive behind the use of these ticketing machines and they have to cast a wide net in order to catch enough violators to pay for the very pricy systems. So what they do is they put them in places where the speed limit is much lower than the speed that others are driving. Then they ticket huge numbers of drivers who really aren’t behaving irresponsibly. Also, once the revenue starts rolling in there is very little incentive to employ engineering countermeasures that would naturally reduce speeds without massive ticketing. If they did that, the revenue stream would dry up and they don’t want that to happen.

    The proper way to improve safety is to do the engineering first and get all the benefit you can out of that. Once that’s done, you can target the outliers and very few people would complain. But in most cases they do it backwards. That leads to much less success when it comes to improving safety and it erodes the public’s confidence in the government and police.

  32. The UK one actually looks at speed cameras and is probably the best of the four. There are some problems with him self-hosting his report, but the report itself shows a reasonable effort to accurately analyze the data he could access.

  33. The Australia report criticizes ACT for not having a camera strategy, but it calls for MORE cameras at better locations.

    “Mobile speed camera coverage is limited compared with that envisaged by the ACT Government in 2005, and mobile camera operations are overt which means it is unlikely that the ACT Government is achieving its desired ‘anytime, anywhere’ approach.
    ? Speed and red light cameras may not be located at the highest priority sites as their effectiveness and relative priority, compared with intersections with traffic lights where there are no cameras, has not recently been evaluated. The last evaluation occurred in 2003 and it was for three sites only.
    ? There are too few mid-block speed cameras to achieve the Government’s aim of having a general effect on speeding across the road network, and the siting of these cameras does not take account of crash data as is the practice in other Australian jurisdictions. Mid-block cameras are unlikely to be sited to achieve the best road safety results”

  34. The fatality rate per 100,000 vehicles fell by 21% in France after the deployment of speed enforcement cameras.

    “…the consistency of reported reductions in speed and crash outcomes across all studies show that speed cameras are a worthwhile intervention for reducing the number of road traffic injuries and deaths.”


    The number of serious accidents on 20mph roads has increased by over a
    quarter (26 per cent) last year, according to analysis of government
    data by road safety charity, Institute of Advanced Motorists. Slight
    accidents on 20mph roads increased by 17 per cent.

    In the same year, there was a decrease in the number of serious and
    slight accidents on 30mph roads and 40 mph roads. Serious accidents
    went down nine per cent on 30mph roads and seven per cent on 40 mph
    roads. There was a five per cent reduction in slight accidents on 30 mph
    roads and a three per cent decrease on 40 mph roads.

    Casualties in 20mph zones also saw a rise. Serious casualties
    increased by 29 per cent while slight casualties went up by 19 per

    IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “The government and councils
    need to take stock on the effectiveness of 20mph signs. Recent advice,
    guidance and relaxation of regulations has all been about making it
    easier for councils to put 20mph limits in place.

    “More and more roads are being given a 20mph limit but they do not
    seem to be delivering fewer casualties. The IAM are concerned that this
    is because simply putting a sign on a road that still looks like a
    30mph zone does not change driver behaviour. More evaluation and
    research is needed into the real world performance of 20mph limits to
    ensure limited funds are being well spent. In locations with a proven
    accident problem, authorities need to spend more on changing the
    character of our roads so that 20mph is obvious, self-enforcing and
    above all contributes to fewer injuries. In Europe, it is long term
    investment in high quality segregated or shared surfaces that have led
    to a much safer environment for cyclists and pedestrians.”

  36. “The author of the site with the link argues that the cameras are useless
    because they are on some of the safest roads in the city, but someone
    who supports cameras could easily argue that those roads are safe
    because of the cameras.”

    If someone who supports cameras wants to make that argument then they would have to show using good scientific methodology that those locations were less safe before the cameras were installed, that safety improved, and that the cause was the presence of the cameras and not other factors. So, no, it would not be easy to argue that those roads are safe because of the cameras. Opinion is not evidence.

    Further, you’ve taken one small part of the larger article and argued against that while completely ignoring all the other statistics that is cited showing that speed cameras did not improve safety in DC.

  37. If a driver obeys the speed limit they will not get a ticket issued from automated enforcement. Your assumption that there is strong motivation for profit by public agencies to use traffic enforcement cameras doesn’t hold up with the example of the LA County MTA who are using red light cameras to reduce the odds of buses colliding with motor vehicles at intersections.

    There is no profit motive for them to use camera enforcement. They want to reduce the number of incidents of red light violations and they have found cameras to be very effective in doing this. If this was motivated by profit there would be cameras deployed at all the busy intersections where the Orange Line BRT travels. There isn’t. The cameras are only at the intersections where there was a significant amount of incidents between the buses and the cross traffic on the street. One of the intersections went from 20 red light violations a month to only 2. There is hardly a profit incentive to have red light cameras at an intersection with only two violations a month The MTA loses money on that.

    The city of Los Angeles also had red light cameras installed. They didn’t make any money off of it. The cameras were removed because of complaints from drivers who got tickets. Imagine that, drivers don’t like getting tickets. The MTA didn’t remove the ones they installed. Frankly, they don’t care if people complain about getting tickets. Their number one concern is safety and so the red light cameras have stayed in place since they found that its effective in improving safety.

    The deployment of red light cameras did not stop other methods of preventing collisions along the Orange Line. Since then the bus drivers have been required to go 10 mph through intersection. Red lights were embedded into one road at an intersection with the bus. The MTA also experimented with a bright strobe on the side of a bus (had to get a temporary exemption of a law to do that). There are yellow flashing traffic signals used instead of green lights for buses at two intersections. Also big flashing led signs that displays a picture of a bus has been installed. Some bus drivers resort to honking at many of the intersections. The LA County MTA will use anything that they find which works. There is no longer flashing strobe lights, the embedded red lights in the road no longer is turned on.

    The FTWA clearly states that “Speeding is a complex issue involving engineering, driving behavior, education, and enforcement.” Your oversimplifying it by saying that engineering is the solution. Obviously the FTWA doesn’t agree that there is only one solution to reducing this problem.

  38. Which statistics in the DC report (not the depository’s editorial comments) deal specifically with camera enforcement?

  39. Your slant is that you do not like camera enforcement and it doesn’t matter how effective they are in preventing collisions, deaths and injuries. You simply want them removed. How dare there be tickets issued to those that violate traffic laws, especially an automated system that can issue tickets 24/7.

    You clearly don’t have an unbiased viewpoint and yet you try to present yourself as such. How about stating that if automated camera enforcement is shown to work in some instances your in favor of using it.

  40. You are copying the press release, but not the report, which I still can’t find. One-year increases of around 20% are huge, so I’d want to see the original report to know what’s going on.

    As best I can guess from the context, a bunch of streets that were previously 30 mph changed to 20 mph, and the crash rate for 20 mph streets (which was now a bigger number of streets) went up. It doesn’t tell me if the crash rate on the formerly 30 mph streets went up or down when the speed limit changed. It doesn’t tell me what happened to the crash rate on the streets that were 20 mph before and after the other streets changed.

    If I could see the whole report, I might be able to draw a conclusion, but the main conclusion I can draw so far is that IAM is lobbying for higher speeds.

  41. You are actually wrong about most everything you state here with regards to the MTA program. I’m intimately familiar with it and the most profitable cameras are deployed along Canoga Ave citing drivers for making a right turn on red. The cameras were installed when the extension was opened so there was no prior history of collisions. Further, even though they cite thousands of violators, no collisions
    have occurred due to the movement being enforced.

    The problem with the MTA crossings is that they are very confusing intersections with multiple intersections in parallel so drivers face a confusing mass of signals and often are confused as to which signal is controlling their movement and where a stop is needed.

    You have introduced a red herring argument pulling the thread off topic and other than this one reply I will not engage you further on the topic of the MTA cameras here.

  42. Nothing new in what you posted. First link is to the Wall Street backed for-profit company that runs the ticketing camera programs so of course they’d link to anything favorable about their product. Link on their page goes back to the report linked in the original article above.

    “The fatality rate per 100,000 vehicles fell by 21% in France
    after the deployment of speed enforcement cameras.”

    Three points which you have consistently failed to address are:

    1. Fatalities were falling before the cameras were installed
    and fell at a lower rate after.

    2. There isn’t any proof offered in the study that the reduction in the fatality rate was caused by the use of the cameras. The fact that fatalities were falling before the cameras were installed and fell at a lower rate after suggest that the cameras were not only not the cause of the reduction but may have actually made the roadways less safe.

    There’s been no discussion of what safety improvements might have been gained on this roadway using proven engineering countermeasures to make the roadway safer.

    Simply repeating the info in the original article doesn’t advance the discussion. And I have a rule about not continuing to engage in online discussions when one party fails to directly address the points being made and simply repeats their opinion over and over.

  43. Here’s another FHWA article which states: “In Sweden, Norway, France, and the Netherlands, speed cameras were effective in controlling driver speed.”

    ” Everywhere the scan team visited, speed management was a key priority for improving highway safety. The “human” element was also a major consideration in methods to control speed. Countries first designed roadways to achieve the desired speed objective through the functional use of the roadway (self-organizing roads), but road speed management was also achieved through aggressive enforcement and public education.”

    Notice that aggressive enforcement is part of how safety was improved.

  44. Thanks for making a straw man argument but that’s not my position. However feel free to keep mischaracterizing what I’ve written here. Also note that I previously wrote that if the cameras were targeted at the most egregious violators that, in your words, drive “far in excess of what others are driving”, I wouldn’t have much of an objection to them.

  45. Sweden, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands also employ speed cameras. These are countries with the some of the lowest fatality traffic fatality rate in the world.

    Its simply absurd to believe that traffic violation cameras could make the roads less safe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


There’s No Doubt: Traffic Enforcement Cameras Save Lives

Gawker dished out some richly-deserved ridicule to Tennessee State Senator Jon Lundberg yesterday, following reports that he is co-sponsoring legislation to outlaw the specific speeding camera that nabbed him doing 60 in a 45 zone last October. Lundberg denied that the incident had any impact on his decision to sponsor in the legislation, and contested the […]

America’s Traffic Death Toll Is a National Disgrace

More than 40,000 Americans were killed in traffic last year, according to new estimates from the National Safety Council, the worst toll in a decade. The U.S. transportation system claims far more lives each year than peer countries. If America achieved the same fatality rate as the UK, more than 30,000 lives would be saved each year.

America’s Progress on Street Safety Is Pathetic

A new report from the International Transport Forum shows America is only falling farther behind all of its peer nations on street safety [PDF]. The traffic fatality rate in the United States (10.7 per 100,000 people) is nearly four times higher than in the United Kingdom (2.8 per 100,000) and close to double that of […]
More than 112,500 people were killed in speeding-related crashes from 2005 to 2014 . Image: NTSB

NTSB: Speed Kills, and We’re Not Doing Enough to Stop It

More than 112,500 people lost their lives in speed-related crashes from 2005 to 2014, accounting for 31 percent of all traffic deaths in America over that period. In a draft report released earlier this week, the National Transportation Safety Board says excessive speed is a deadly problem in our nation's transportation system -- one that federal and state officials aren't doing enough to address.