Photo: Flickr / Horia Varlan
Consumer advocates still question whether red-light cameras are being used to curb crashes or turn motorists’ wallets inside-out. According to U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group), nearly 700 U.S. cities and towns installed the cameras, which accounted for more than 90 per cent of tickets issued for illegal right turns, or rolling stops.
In one New Jersey town, PIRG found 2,500 tickets were issued at one intersection within the first two months of installing a camera.
Such evidence leads advocates to believe that cities are taking advantage of drivers who are otherwise harmless.
“There is little disagreement that red-light cameras are effective in reducing crashes,” says Edmunds.com features editor Carroll Lachnit. “The question is whether cash-strapped cities are rushing to install these cameras just so they can rake in the revenues from tickets, even at intersections where there are cheaper and more sensible solutions.”
As we’ve reported, lobbyists like Roger Jones, founder of the Red Light Camera Protest Group, have argued for longer yellow-light time frames. Getting his city to tack on an extra seven-tenths of a second to its yellow lights resulted in a 62 per cent drop in red-light tickets.
Red-light cameras are drawing the ire of lawmakers as well.
Atlanta, Ga. joined Los Angeles and Houston in effectively shutting down its red-light program, while California’s second-highest court struck down a red light camera evidence as sufficient to convict a motorist last Friday, according to traffic site TheNewspaper.com.
Not everyone is against the red-light cameras, however. A recent survey by the National Coalition for Safer Roads found that even after hearing arguments criticising the cameras’ use, 67 per cent of Floridians still wanted them on the road as a safety precaution.