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View Diary: Traffic Cameras: Don't watch me, bro! (97 comments)

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  •  "Numerous instances", ha! (10+ / 0-)

    One of the things I had to do in my last years with the City of Chicago was increase yellow and red times at many signalized intersections where red light cameras were installed.

    I will grant you that when one of the senior aldermen, Ed Burke, who is a former police officer, says that the enforcement cameras are a revenue stream, it's hard not to be cynical.

    •  Well, it's a revenue stream because drivers (10+ / 0-)

      keep running red lights.

      I think we can all agree that running a red light is not a good thing. Right?

      Getting one of those tickets in the mail can change driver behavior. Ask Mr. Elmo. He's very careful now to obey the traffic signal at the intersection right near our house.

      •  Well, a fine is a big motivator... (6+ / 0-) change behavior.

        One other thing that I noticed was, when we installed countdown pedestrian signals at intersections equipped with red-light cameras, people tended to obey the signals more, and were less likely to try and blow the yellow intervals. This was even apparent on the un-cameraed legs of interesections, since the law requires that all legs have the "Photo Enforcement" signs.

        And Chicago could have had many, many more speed cameras, since the software for the red-light camras could have been modified to include that function. The cameras at signalized intersections would have been doing double duty. As it is, the installation of the cameras around schools and parks is a better use of the technology.

        My opinion is that one driver of the fines is the contractor, so if the City were to have sufficient staff to maintain and service the enforcement cameras without using a contractor, it would partially lessen the money angle. Unfortunately, the tendency has been to reduce City forces, including police, which is what was the original driver of installing enforcement cameras in the first place.

    •  I actually don't have a problem (4+ / 0-)

      with conflating traffic calming and revenue streams.  I think small towns are entitled to have outrageous speed traps.  I think it makes sense for cities to automate the more clear-cut and routine kinds of traffic enforcement.  I dislike red-light runners and speeders and tail-gaters and aggressive drivers generally.  They decrease MY safety and they run up public-health costs for no good reason.  Let them pay their share.  

      But, I realize that engaging in the enforcement-camera debate only distracts from the diarists point:  that there are engineering uses independent of enforcement.

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 09:40:11 AM PST

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      •  "small towns are entitled to have speed traps"... (11+ / 0-)

        ... and I am entitled to avoid those towns.

        I had a professor that says "when you need traffic calming, it means the road was badly designed".

        I think there are better ways to slow traffic than hitting motorists with huge fines. Often, towns artificially lower the speed limit when the road could handle a much higher speed. Drivers tend to drive the speed they are comfortable-- even when it's above the legal speed limit.

        I tend to think that outlawing something and punishing people for doing it doesn't stop people from doing it. People will always speed, and towns will always make money from it. Just my 2 cents.

        Shear is a very brittle failure mode. Other modes of material failure include warning signs like bowing or cracking. But Failure in Shear often occurs catastrophically, without warning.

        by Failure in Shear on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 10:38:30 AM PST

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        •  I agree with your professor. :) (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          grover, JeffW, ladybug53, Justus

          Speed limits should be an engineering thing, and based on the actual roadway design, not something that politicians can tinker with.

          "He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

          by Hayate Yagami on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 11:12:16 AM PST

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        •  Yep. (9+ / 0-)

          Depends on the town.

          In western states,  we have a ton of small towns where Main Street is actually State Highway 123. The Highway has a 55 or even 60 mph speed limit, but Folksville has imposed a 20 mph speed limit on Main.

          Sometimes it's reasonable. There may be schools, a lot of shops, churches, and a clinic on Main. The town sprouted up off the main drag.

          But a lot of times, it's not a reasonable speed limit. The limit throughout the rest of town is 35 mph.

          They just know they can nail tourists traveling through: people who most likely won't return to contest those tickets.

          Speed limits should be set based upon engineering and safety standards, not set based on whim for economic purposes.

          © grover

          So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

          by grover on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 11:40:30 AM PST

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          •  Heard stories of small towns in Nevada (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Bluefin, ladybug53

            that use cameras and cops to hand out tickets to people "speedin" on the intererstate: these people did not see those signs reducing the speed limit from 65 to 55 or less, which is most people.

            Shall we go? Yes, let's go.

            by whenwego on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 01:18:25 PM PST

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        •  "Badly designed"? (0+ / 0-)
          I had a professor that says "when you need traffic calming, it means the road was badly designed".
          Right...and the behavior of drivers has nothing to do with it.  **chuckle**

          The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

          by wesmorgan1 on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 07:20:47 AM PST

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        •  The town of Dover, MA *is* a speed trap (0+ / 0-)

          They have two sources of revenue: property taxes and speeding tickets. They have two main roads through the town, on which they have a 40 mph speed limit - except for two short stretches where they place 25 mph signs in hard to see spots just on the far side of a blind curve. It pretty much guarantees that if you don't drive there frequently, you won't notice the signs, and you will get a ticket. They are VERY aggressive about ticketing. They even ticketed a friend for riding his bicycle too fast. Luckily, he didn't have his license on him, and managed to get the officer to accept his library card as an ID, so it didn't affect his insurance rates (your rates go up for 7 years in MA if you get more than 2 tickets).

          Of course, these two roads are the main commuting routes for a number of Boston suburbs, leading to a significant revenue stream.

      •  Macks Creek, MO? n/t (0+ / 0-)

        ''The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security for our Republic.'' - Justice Hugo L. Black of the Supreme Court

        by geekydee on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 10:56:31 AM PST

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    •  i've heard that Chicago experimented with (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hayate Yagami

      getting rid of all-red-time to increase traffic capacity slightly.  What I heard was that it increased the amount of crashes at first, but as drivers got used to it, the increase tapered off, and it did help traffic flow somewhat.

      I thought that was interesting since it goes against normal practice. From what you're saying with your red-light-camera experience, maybe it didn't work so well.

      Shear is a very brittle failure mode. Other modes of material failure include warning signs like bowing or cracking. But Failure in Shear often occurs catastrophically, without warning.

      by Failure in Shear on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 10:44:48 AM PST

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      •  News to me... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chantedor, kurt

        ...all-reds remain for the signals I lnow of, and usually include a 3 second lead pedestrian interval. I retired in 2010, and I would have heard if something like that was tried.

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