There's an article in today's Spokesman Review about how the photo red traffic lights have done for the past year. Kudos to the Review for digging into this.
The verdict? The photo red enforcement hasn't made a difference one way or another, except for the collected revenue.
I'd like to know the basis for this statement.
“Typically, there might be a slight increase (in the first year),” said Officer Teresa Fuller, who examines camera violations before tickets are issued. “But those go down in the second year of the program.”
In all the photo red stuff I've read, I've never seen that before. If this is typical then why weren't we told that in the first place? Why are our expectations different? I'm thinking that loud POP we heard was Officer Fuller pulling that out of her--ahem, derriere.
We also hear from Mayor Verner.
Spokane Mayor Mary Verner called the data “interesting,” but cautioned that it’s too early to make a final judgment on camera enforcement.
“The program has been effective in that we seem to have caught a lot of people running red lights,” Verner said. “If we’re not seeing a decline of injury collisions, then we need to figure out why not.”
I think Mayor Verner should have a look at the Spokane Police Departments web site and read about photo red.
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. Often times, a spillover effect results from automated enforcement: other intersections not monitored by automated enforcement also see a decrease in violations and accidents because of the presence of enforcement in other areas of the community.
Unfortunately, that means there's one thing missing from the Review's report. How many citations are being issued each month at each intersection? If this is truly a safety program that's going to reduce violations and accidents then we should be seeing a reduction in both. And how about that spillover effect? I can't imagine the difficulty in gauging that, but we'd probably hear more popping.
Spokane issued 5,690 camera tickets that resulted in revenue of $419,000, Fuller said. After the contracted camera company, Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions, is paid and other expenses subtracted, police estimate a profit of $103,000.
In tough economic times it's difficult to turn down $103,000 a year.