Traffic Light Cameras

I live in Wildwood, Missouri, where traffic light cameras are popping up at all the intersections where new traffic signals are installed. It seems a new traffic signal is installed every week, too.

I heard Walter Williams talking last year about these devices increasing the number of accidents and the number fatal accidents at intersections where they’re installed.

Here’s the reason:

  1. The cameras aren’t cheap, but the manufacturers sell the city council on the ROI.

  2. After they’re installed, drivers become more careful about the intersections. The number of tickets written for violating a red light in these intersections drops.

  3. Realizing that the cameras, on their own, will never pay for themselves, city fathers tweek the yellow signal times shorter. So, if an intersection, based on volume, speed limit, etc., is rated at 8 seconds for safety, they shorten the yellow cycle to 5 seconds.

  4. Drivers can no longer safely stop betwee the time the light turns yellow.

  5. Crash!

  6. Tickets!

  7. Revenue!

  8. Dead people! (They’re everywhere)

While I’m on this rant, am I the only one who remembers when traffic signals were synchronized to MINIMIZE the number of times you’d have to stop on a given street driving the speed limit? Have you noticed that, in the past 5 years or so, the opposite is true? Driving close to the speed limit more or less ensures you stop at every signal, at least in St. Louis County.

Do you think this has something to do with the fact that Missouri collects $.17 per gallon of gasoline in taxes? I do.

Thanks to OTB for this link to Weekly Standard.