The last camp of critics may be on to something. The Kansas City Star reports that a study by the Kansas City Police Department shows that red-light cameras have not reduced accidents at a majority of intersections where they have been installed. The department's analysis showed that accidents increased by 18 percent at 11 of the 17 intersections where red-light cameras were in use between 2009 and 2010.
We need to be honest about why red-light cameras exist. Their installation is a definitive revenue boom for the city. Safety is actually not the issue here. And please don't consider that a blanket dismissal of those who choose to run red lights — there is clearly a danger element attached to a car that is heading into an intersection where traffic from the left and right has a green light.
It's time to stop putting red-light cameras in the same category as seat-belt stops and instead consider them in the same vein as speeding tickets, which have never been touted as a means of reducing accidents. Speeding tickets are given to violators of the law. Those who run red lights are also violating the law. Tickets issued for this offense are no different from those given for speeding, it's just a question of whether a human or camera is your first point of contact. A person is still reviewing each potential red-light violation.
But even if you reframe the reason for installing red-light cameras, that shouldn't come with a wild cry for their removal. The city has the right to make you pay for traffic violations. But perhaps they owe you the courtesy of being honest about why you're really being charged.