Sunday, February 15, 2009

Do The Speed Cameras Help?

There has been a lot of back and forth on whether the speed cameras are a safety measure or a revenue generator.  Most people that support cameras say they're a safety measure, most that oppose them say they're simply revenue generators.  So who's right?

In my opinion they're both right.  No one can argue that they've brought in quite a bit of revenue since they were installed.  However, there seems to be some back and forth as to whether our highways are safer since they've been installed.  The Arizona Capitol Times has an article (membership may be required) that kind of presents both sides.

First it takes the DPS statistics (from an ASU study) for the loop 101 since the speed cameras were put in:

The ASU study, officials said, showed a 58 percent reduction in side-swipe crashes, a 71 percent reduction in single-vehicle crashes and a 40 percent reduction in accident-caused injuries as a result of speed cameras.

However, the statistics reported by DPS didn't include rear-end collisions that increased as much as 55% on the Loop 101 as reported from a 2007 study.  That looks pretty bad.  It seems that there are a lot of people slamming on the brakes when they see the speed cameras.  However, the article then gives the overall statistics:

Factoring in increases in rear-end collisions, accidents on the Loop 101 in Scottsdale decreased by 54 percent during the time speed cameras were in place.

So, is it a revenue generator or a safety measure?  I think it is both.  Yes, it's generating a lot of tickets but a 54% reduction in accidents is a pretty impressive number.  Besides, the revenue generated by them will probably trend downward as people become accustomed to the cameras and start driving the speed limit.

Overall, I think I'm OK with the speed cameras as long as they're not used as an excuse for not keeping sufficient DPS and other law enforcement officers patrolling our streets.  After all, a camera isn't near the deterrent as a law enforcement officer.

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