Your City Needs You to Blow Through Red Lights

Some towns promote good citizenship even though it doesn’t pay off.

Dallas discovered this when the traffic light cameras monitoring its busiest intersections worked so well that the city had to decommission more than one-fourth of them.

Dallas had anticipated an annual $14.8 million for red-light-running fines, money essential to keeping the cameras running — before people stopped running lights and reduced violations more than 50 percent at some locations.

Due to sudden lack of funding, the city council is considering scaling back its camera expansion program or idling certain cameras on a rotating basis.

Maybe Dallas should look into Taiwan’s traffic solution — it’s probably cheaper, though not as safe.

(Hat tip: James Comstock.)

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  1. Prestige Bridging says:

    Interesting and useful, thanks.

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  2. Ben says:

    Y’know, I remember reading that the NMA had observed a traffic study in Dallas, and they found that the greatest reduction in red light runs came from lengthening the duration of the yellow lights, not from the cameras, but since both solutions were rolled out at the same time they had a resulting correlation-causation problem.

    Oh, and the other thing they don’t tell you? People just slow down/don’t run lights at the particular intersections with cameras…at the others, they blow right through them with impunity because the cops aren’t watching for that activity anymore. I live in Cleveland where the cameras are also common, and that’s exactly what I see. What would be more interesting would be to see Dallas do a study of how many accidents they have per year, like Taiwan, and where those accidents occur. My guess is that while there would be a marked decrease at the camera intersections, you would actually see an increase at other locations around the cameras as the locals got wise to the scheme.

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  3. doug says:

    Dallas citizens should be outraged!

    Revenue enhancement vs. safety?

    The reason for the picture taking devices was to stop red light infractions and the horrible crashes that ensued. It works! So why now remove them? Talk about idiots.

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  4. Chance says:

    Wasn’t there just a study that said red light cameras cause more accidents? If true, a system that reduces revenue and raises costs both directly (purchase and maintenance) and indirectly (more accidents = more first responders on the clock) should probably be scrapped.

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  5. Clay says:

    The problem is that cameras don’t necessarily improve safety. They just change the type of accidents that happen at that light. Those without cameras have fewer rear-end collisions, but more crossing collisions, while those with cameras are just the opposite.

    A link to the Federal Highway Administration study on this is:

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  6. Wayne says:

    So instead of protecting the public and eating the cost, they have decommissioned them. Now let’s see how many deaths occur at the intersections where the cameras were decommissioned. It will provide a very insightful view as the the value of a human life, as calculated by the City of Dallas.

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  7. Shane Killian says:

    That brings to mind a mock commercial I made a few years ago about speeding cameras in Charlotte; it’s in my blog here:

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  8. DK1 says:

    Way to go Dallas. Our roads are safer but we’re not making enough money. This is also why towns who heavily depend on ticket revenue have no incentive to provide adequate public parking.

    Since the auto insurance companies still have an incentive to reduce accidents, maybe they would be willing to fund some of costs of these cameras. (Ha! Dick Cheney would sooner endorse Obama for president.)

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