- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 1, 2003

It is no secret that traffic cameras are a scam. They take photographs of cars allegedly speeding or allegedly running a red light, and then a fine is sent to the owner of the vehicle. There is never proof that the owner was behind the wheel at the time, but greedy governments overlook the due-process violation because the cameras bring in lots of revenue. There are even examples of municipalities shortening the length of yellow lights to increase the number of motorists caught in the trap. Traffic cameras simply do not increase road safety.

As new evidence increasingly proves that traffic cameras do not prevent accidents, and that in some cases they increase rear-end collisions because more people jam on their brakes to try to avoid camera-enforcement tickets, governments have resorted to skewing data to try to justify the shakedowns. The Montgomery County Executive’s office recently released a study to show that operating red-light cameras reduced the number of collisions over two years. But as the Gazette, a suburban Maryland newspaper, pointed out in a recent expose of the Montgomery County program, the data the county released was misleading. There was actually an increase of red-light runners at one intersection. And at others where the rate actually did decline, cameras were not installed for the whole two-year period. Despite the flawed methodology, the county conveniently tailored data to match its message.

Governments are not alone in reaping big profits from traffic cameras. Insurance companies make millions of dollars from premiums that increase due to traffic-camera violations. If governments and insurance companies really were concerned about decreasing red-light violations, they would add a second to yellow-light sequences. Studies have shown that adjustment reduces violations by 80 percent. This isn’t done because there is no money in it — and traffic cameras are about money, not safety.

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