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The $1,008,000 Question…

August 4, 2009

Are traffic cameras that effective?

Roanoke Times issued an article, “Driving Through Red Lights in Roanoke Might soon get you caught on tape“. Although the intention might seem good, the impact that this will make is minimal. People will still run the lights! We see that now at the locations that do have cameras. Based on the numbers in this article, the cost effectiveness is extremely poor. Some of the data presented in this article raised a few questions and concerns.

Last year the report says 81 crashes occurred in those 10 locations. How many people total, ran stop lights in each location? Just calculating a basic average, that’s 8.1 crashes per location. Are the crashes due to running a stop light, or putting on breaks to avoid running the stop light causing the person behind them to hit the vehicle?

Jones says that they must catch 56 violators per day to recoup the cost of $84,000 per month! (reminder: 380 summons were given last year for violations) Assuming that there were on average 56 violations per day for 2008 (20,440) and 81 crashes in those 10 locations, less that 1% (.39%) of violations that resulted in a crash. Would the camera still have stopped these?

Are the 380 summons issued in 2008, from the locations that are being considered now or in total for Roanoke? Considering 380*$50= $19,000/yr minimally OR 380*$100=$38,000/yr maximally(if you fight and fail) recouped from the summoned violators…..far from 1million/yr–the cost to purchase, install and continually maintain the cameras, and I’m sure they must be more police to monitor the location which is an additional cost not mentioned since “huge number of red light violations go unenforced simply because there can’t be an officer at every intersection.”

At first I thought the $84,000 would be the one time cost, but this is a monthly amount to be met to just break even! If it were, then it would be a good way for to make some money–but it’s not. Based of the information gathered from the article, I believe it is not either a very cost effective or smart idea. There may be some gaps in the article too.

Lastly, my reasoning process inquires what is the percentage of intersection wrecks due to running a light in comparison to wrecks caused by other negligliences in non-intersection areas. Should efforts be extended in other these areas too?

The million dollar question remains unsolved…

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