Last month, Eric Morris wrote a post on red light cameras at traffic intersections in L.A. that sparked a robust debate in the comments section, something we always like. The debate centered around whether these devices are effective at reducing people’s willingness to run a red light, or whether they’re merely sources of revenue for the city. Perhaps you’ll feel similarly passionate about a new Australian study that examined the benefits of fixed speed cameras in New South Wales. From an ABC.net.au article:
On the whole [Auditor-General Peter Achterstraat] has found that speed cameras do change driver behavior and improve road safety but not in all cases. He has found 38 of the 141 fixed cameras across the state seem to have no significant benefit to road safety. The report suggests the Roads and Traffic Authority continue with plans to review those cameras and consider either removing or relocating them.
The report found no evidence that revenue raising was a factor in the location of a cameras.
It says revenue from speed cameras reduces the longer they operate.
The most interesting bit comes from the Sydney Morning Herald, which reports that one of Achterstraat’s recommendations is to give lottery tickets and thank you cards to randomly selected drivers who stick to the speed limit. The idea is to ”break the nexus between speeding and revenue raising,” so that drivers know the cameras aren’t simply cash cows for the government.
This actually seems like nice gesture. People who drive the speed limit are incidentally producing a public benefit. Is there anything wrong with giving them a little extra incentive? And letting them know their good deeds aren’t going unnoticed?