Friday, June 05, 2009

Speed Trapping in Homestead. Guest Blog By Youbetcha'

(Hit on image to enlarge it)

Not to be outdone by Florida Highway Patrol's little money making machine on US1 in Key Largo, the City of Homestead now is instituting their own version of a speed trap on US1. In fact, the city is so proud of their trap, that they had a press release and photo op for the city council just for the occasion:

This particular intersection at Campbell Drive and the highway is dangerous. It is a very wide intersection with multiple lanes. It needs some work and adjusting. It needs sane drivers passing through it. It needs accidents to stop.

However, what I can see happening with intersection cameras as people panic stop to avoid a ticket and their tailgater rams into them is that accidents now will occur at the stop bar and end up in the middle of the intersection. Nice. This new idea the city council has may make the Busway accidents seem trite.

The stoplight cameras are a terrific economy booster for the city. If you get nailed for not stopping, the city makes a profit. If you ignore the ticket and your driver’s license is pulled, you can go to jail, lose your job and the state of Florida eventually makes money, too.

However, then on the other hand, if you stop too quickly and are hit by the vehicle behind you, the car repair shops, auto dealers, doctors and hospitals make money. If you are lucky, the funeral home won’t.

Seriously, other than the press release reads like a commercial for the company selling the cameras, there are some questions to be answered:

One has to wonder what the total cost of the equipment, maintence, and the cost of police officers to review the tapes and issue tickets will be.

What will one good lightening strike do to the equipment? (Not to mention a hurricane.)

What is the city’s liability if someone is killed trying to stop to avoid the camera’s piercing eye?

And, how exactly does a person know what to do if the light is going yellow to red just as they are approaching the stop bar but they can’t stop because of momentum? Do the camera’s know the drivers ability and reaction time? I would guess not.

This sure looks like another opportunity to roll the dice on US1, except this time the drivers are rolling the dice on their life every time they approach a Homestead intersection. Driver pay attention: Homestead has upped the ante.


14 comments:

Geniusofdespair said...

I can never understand why lawmakers think that giving us more tickets will somehow fix traffic.

Anonymous said...

Those are not speed trap cameras, they are red light enforcement cameras. The cameras have been around for more than a decade already, and there are statistics that prove collisions are dramatically reduced upon the start of the program. It does have the added benefit of providing the local jurisdiction additional revenue.

Anonymous said...

Ok, reading this blog entry, it is entirely clear to me that "Youbetchya" has done no research on this issue. The statistics are overwhelming that collisions are reduced significantly through implementation of the red light enforcement cameras. That includes the "quick stop" accidents refered to. We all forget, we are supposed to keep a safe distance between our car and the car in front of it. These cameras actually do affect behavior, that will (1) make dirvers stop at a red light, what a novel concept, and (2) not spend their life tailgating. Are you going to have the occassional moron, yes, there is no legislation or program that is moron proof, but, it certainly acts as an effective deterent.

Anonymous said...

Oh, not to mention that the title is way off. It is not a speed trap, it is a red light running trap!

Anonymous said...

I agree. "Youbetchya" has done no research on this issue. Revenue is not the issue. No one pays if everyone obeys the law. My tax dollars should not have to be spent to get you to obey the law.

I also don't see huge pile up accidents at the average "manned" speed trap. In fact, why should my tax dollars have to go to pay an officer sit out there to enforce public safety? I guess personally responsibility is out of the question.

I am always shocked when people want to stand up for the rights of the red light runners and speeders. Perhaps we should just lock our kids up at home as you certainly have a right to get where you need to go as recklessly and as quickly as possible.

The real issue is when can we get these cameras approved for and installed in school speed zones?

Rick said...

The jury is still out on whether red light cameras make anyone any safer on the road.

It's far from a black-and-white issue like is being represented here by some in the comments.

.

Anonymous said...

Rick:

With all due respect, the jury may be out in your mind, but, this issue, although rather new in the State of Florida, has been studied, and your statement is not supported by the conclusions that although rear end collisions may increase(studies differ as to it actually does or not) as a result of implementation, the social value of the reduction in typically more serious crashes caused by red light running is much higher than without the cameras:

Cameras have been shown to substantially reduce red light violations. Institute evaluations in Fairfax, Virginia, and Oxnard, California, showed that camera enforcement reduced red light running violations by about 40 percent.3,7 In addition to reducing red light running at camera-equipped sites, violation reductions in both communities carried over to signalized intersections not equipped with red light cameras, indicating community-wide changes in driver behavior. An Institute evaluation of red light cameras in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, found that after red light violations were reduced by 36 percent following increased yellow signal timing, the addition of red light cameras further reduced red light violations by 96 percent.8

In addition to reducing red light violations, cameras have been shown to reduce intersection crashes. In Oxnard, California, significant citywide crash reductions followed the introduction of red light cameras, and injury crashes at intersections with traffic signals were reduced by 29 percent.9 Front-into-side collisions — the crash type most closely associated with red light running — were reduced by 32 percent overall, and front-into-side crashes involving injuries were reduced by 68 percent. An Institute review of international red light camera studies concluded that cameras reduce red light violations by 40-50 percent and reduce injury crashes by 25-30 percent.10

Some studies have reported that while red light cameras reduce front-into-side collisions and overall injury crashes, they can increase rear-end crashes. Because the types of crashes prevented by red light cameras tend to be more severe than rear-end crashes, research has shown there is a positive aggregate benefit. A study sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration evaluated red light camera programs in seven cities.11 The study found that, overall, right-angle crashes decreased by 25 percent while rear-end collisions increased by 15 percent. Results showed a positive aggregate economic benefit of more than $18.5 million over 370 site years, which translates into a crash reduction benefit of approximately $39,000 per site year. The authors concluded that the economic costs from the increase in rear-end crashes were more than offset by the economic benefits from the decrease in right-angle crashes targeted by red light cameras. Not all studies have reported increases in rear-end crashes. The Cochrane Collaboration (an international organization that conducts systematic reviews of the scientific literature on public health issues) reviewed 10 controlled before-after studies of red light camera effectiveness in Australia, Singapore, and the United States.12 Using techniques of meta-analysis, the authors estimated a 16 percent reduction in all types of injury crashes and a 24 percent reduction in right-angle crashes. The review did not find a statistically significant change in rear-end crashes.

youbetcha' said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
youbetcha' said...

Darlings:

When that Miami-Dade County Transit Bus slides into your rear-end and you are pushed into oncoming traffic, please remember that:

1. Your derrière is worth 100k to city and county risk management without a bill in the Florida Legislature for excess damages

2. Fat chance of getting that excess damages bill passed, not to mention getting a settlement without a fight from one of the largest law firms in the county (your tax dollars at work)

3. Even though you think I am wrong, it only takes one time for me to be right to change your life forever.

I suppose that you all who are pushing the lights also believe that gated communities prevent auto theft and home break-ins as well. (Crime still happens in gated communities, honest.)

Instead, why doesn't Homestead spend some money on roadway drainage for their streets? They have streets that are consistently under water, which causes life-safety issues as well, particularly when cars stall out in them and they block emergency vehicles.

PS: I did my homework. As a result of my homework, I am not believing the line the city is spewing about how wonderful the lights are. It maybe some other folks needed to do some research too.

Additionally, I don't have a financial stake in the outcome of the issue, that is, unless I roll the dice and get slammed by a ticket or slammed by a distracted tourist looking for the race track.

Anthony said...

Hey Anonymous Coward. You sound as if you are one of the people that are responsible for the red light cameras. Just FYI, there are only two things that those red light cameras are good for. One is to case accidents, and the other is to generate revenue for the state, in this case, the City of Homestead.

The government thugs can't raise taxes much more without there being a tax revolt, so they start violating our civil liberties. Those people who get caught will not be able to defend themselves in court because they will say that the proof is irrefutable.

All government is good for is extracting wealth with the threat of guns, fines, and Jail terms for those who don't comply.

Anonymous said...

Riley says:

This pertains to the photograph on the start of the blog; Why isn't Judy Waldman, council-person, in on photo-ops for the press? Is something going on in city hall that we should know about? It's been said that the FBI has been possibly alerted on some strange threat.

Now with the fab five gone: Losner, Warren, Porter, Garner,
Hodge, (block vote), we've still
got somewhat of a clique on the dias, with Council person Waldman left out.

Yes,More block voting politics with
Mayor Bell,(never miss a photo-op)
at center stage and leader--vote
with me gang.

Wasn't the Intersection cameras
the brainstorm of the mayor and the team "ayed"? (Costly expenditure for city voters)

A slender cop, radio control, & a squad car on both intersections
2 hrs--8 AM to 10,& 4PM to 6 would
net a volume of revenue for HMSTD.
The cops need the the exercise and
too, This would save the city some bucks from other intersections. The BELT needs
tightening.

youbetcha' said...

For you to ponder:

Tampa, FL (March 11, 2008) -- Rather than improving motorist safety, red-light cameras significantly increase crashes and are a ticket to higher auto insurance premiums, researchers at the University of South Florida College of Public Health conclude. The effective remedy to red-light running uses engineering solutions to improve intersection safety, which is particularly important to Florida’s elderly drivers, the researchers recommend.

The report was published this month in the Florida Public Health Review, the online journal of the college and the Florida Public Health Association.

"The rigorous studies clearly show red-light cameras don’t work,” said lead author Barbara Langland-Orban, professor and chair of health policy and management at the USF College of Public Health.

“Instead, they increase crashes and injuries as drivers attempt to abruptly stop at camera intersections. If used in Florida, cameras could potentially create even worse outcomes due to the state’s high percent of elderly who are more likely to be injured or killed when a crash occurs.”

Red-light cameras photograph violators who are then sent tickets in the mail. Hillsborough County Commissioners unanimously agreed earlier this month to install the cameras at several major intersections in the county. The devices could be adopted by more cities and counties if Florida legislators pave the way by changing a state law this spring.

The USF report highlights trends in red-light running in Florida, summarizes major studies, and analyzes the automobile insurance industry’s financial interest in cameras. Among the findings:

• Traffic fatalities caused by red-light running are not increasing in Florida and account for less than 4 percent of the state’s yearly traffic deaths. In contrast, more than 22 percent of the state’s traffic fatalities occur at intersections for reasons other than red-light running.

• The injury rate from red-light running crashes has dropped by a third in less than a decade, indicating red-light running crashes have been continually declining in Florida without the use of cameras.

• Comprehensive studies from North Carolina, Virginia, and Ontario have all reported cameras are significantly associated with increases in crashes, as well as crashes involving injuries. The study by the Virginia Transportation Research Council also found that cameras were linked to increased crash costs.

• Some studies that conclude cameras reduced crashes or injuries contained major “research design flaws,” such as incomplete data or inadequate analyses, and were conducted by researchers with links to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS, funded by automobile insurance companies, is the leading advocate for red-light cameras. Insurers can profit from red-light cameras, since their revenues will increase when higher premiums are charged due to the crash and citation increase, the researchers say.

Langland-Orban said the findings have been known for some time. She cites a 2001 paper by the Office of the Majority Leader, U.S. House of Representatives, reporting that red-light cameras are “a hidden tax levied on motorists.” The report concluded cameras are associated with increased crashes, the timings at yellow lights are often set too short to increase tickets for red-light running, and most research concluding cameras are effective was conducted by one researcher from the IIHS. Since then, studies independent of the automobile insurance industry continue to find cameras are associated with large increases in crashes.

Red-light running can be reduced by engineering improvements that address factors such as signal visibility and timings, wet roads and traffic flow, the USF researchers say.

The researchers suggest local governments follow the state’s lead in designing roads and improving intersections to accommodate elderly drivers, which would ultimately benefit all drivers.

QuestionGirl said...

I am of the mind that this will cause accidents. My 28 year old son just moved here from Chicago. I told him three things about driving here:
1. People here think nothing of going through red lights long after they've turned.
2. Don't stop at a light without looking in your rearview mirror first. You might stop and get slammed. 3. Don't step on the gas and go when the light turns green without checking that no one is going to blow the red light.

Thank you for the heads up on this one. I drove through that intersection this morning and never even noticed the cameras. South Florida drivers are a breed unto themselves. I've lived all over the country and never seen anything like it. Here's hoping no one loses their life because of this camera.

Anonymous said...

Two words "Serrano Family", now take off hoser!