In today's Spokesman Review we're told of more planned photo-red installations. The short article does make two important points.
Nearly 2,500 $124 tickets have been issued; about 67 percent have been paid, police said.
“I’m personally pleased with the program,” said City Council President Joe Shogan. “I don’t hear a lot of drivers in Spokane complaining about it.”
Spokane received $207,700 (so far, out of $310,000) and nobody's complaining about it. Those are very important reasons for not only keeping the photo-red system but expanding it to other intersections.
And yet according to everything we were told when they were first installed, and according to the Spokane Police Department's web site:
This is a safety program. Automated safety systems have been shown to reduce red-light violations and intersection crashes. Numerous studies throughout the U.S. and worldwide, as well as the experience of many other cities, indicate significant decreases in red-light running violations and collisions after cameras were installed.
But there hasn't been one word about the change in the rate of accidents at the intersections. Nothing about a change in the types of accidents. And not a word about the rate of red light violations going up or down at the affected intersections. From other Review articles about photo-red.
Under the contract, ATS will charge $4,600 a month for each camera that photographs one approach to an intersection. The money will come out of fees paid by violators.
A Spokesman-Review examination of the city’s plans, along with the first-year results of Seattle’s photo-red program, indicate Spokane could collect as much as $500,000 in new revenue even after accounting for operating costs and other variables, such ignored and unpaid tickets.
City officials predict it would be far less than that, perhaps $190,000.
Four cameras costing $4600 a month each--$147,200 from October 2008 through May 2009--have paid for themselves and generated an additional $60,000 in revenue. Is photo-red making the desired change in safety and traffic violations? How does it compare to extending the length of the yellow light? What are the past and current red light violation rates? What changes have there been in accident rates?
What difference does it make? Nobody's complaining and the city made some money.