Several citizens have recently penned letters supporting the installation of red light cameras as a safety remedy for Las Vegas roadways. But let this former Chicagoan and former suburban traffic commission vice chairman warn valley residents to be careful what you are asking for.
The prolific installation of red light cameras throughout the Chicago area was more of a money grab than a safety issue. In fact, the number of collisions at many intersections increased subsequent to camera installation due to sudden braking upon the transition from green to yellow lights in the direction of traffic. Additionally, communities banked the fines to help keep budgets in the black. Safety was not a consideration. Revenue was.
How does this happen? The Chicago Tribune found that yellow light sequences were shortened to increase violations. Right-turn drivers “rolling” through a red light were cited for not coming to a “complete stop.” Violations were being determined by out-of-state contractors and assessed to the registered vehicle owner via license plate number irrespective to who was driving. Often, contesting a ticket cost more than the fine itself. And of course, there were many media reports investigating the contract awards between the various municipalities and the red-light camera companies.
A new era of nickel-and-diming at hundreds of intersections. Rear-end collisions everywhere. A majority of violations having nothing to do with the classic definition of running a red light. Most fines assessed to the community’s poorest. Municipal coffers flush with new cash. And still, drivers continued running red lights the classic way because those kind of motorists couldn’t care less. So much for safety.
Again, be careful what you wish for.