Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Photo Red - Some Numbers

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.


Autumn said...

Funny story (happened in my home town) this guy drove through a green light at night and saw a small flash go off. The State had just issued the OK for a new camera to be put up at that light. The guy driving knew his light was green and the brand new camera MUST be off. To test this he drove through again. Sure enough as he passed through the intersection the camera flashed. He did this a total of 5 times hoping the state would catch on and correct the problem...

...two weeks later he got FIVE tickets for driving without his seatbelt. (Personally I'd like to know how the heck the camera knew that!)

Hank Greer said...

Too funny!

Bill Foss said...

Another humdinger from the Spokesman-Review.

Their usual MO of having a conclusion they want us to embrace and then sandbagging the evidence to make it happen is getting tired.

The stats that show that there has been little difference in accident rates from one year to the next at the PhotoRed intersections would have been interesting had they looked at two-year stats from nonPhotoRed intersections and compared the two. Maybe fines aren't high enough to be a deterrent. Maybe the red-light runners who caused accidents were being pursued by cops. I don't know. If I were a reporter wanting to educate and not influence, I think I would have asked more questions and even printed the answers.

Next phase? An editorial, followed by a Doug Clark column and maybe even a song from him. I think their ability to create public perception is on the wane. They need a new formula.

All to say their unsuccessful work continues - attempting to discredit Mayor Verner. A Mayor McLaughlin would be a big boon to the Cowles Empire.

I also really enjoyed their editorial saying we should offer a lump sum payment to the permanently disabled. Right up there with their endorsement of privatizing social security.