UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020
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Nobody likes those cameras that are mounted at highway exits and intersections, designed to catch speeders on film. But the fact is, they are virtually everywhere. These cameras are said to reduce accidents by giving people traffic tickets in their mailbox instead of being pulled over in dangerous traffic conditions. The theory behind these cameras is that they provide the benefit of reduced car insurance costs because people will drive safer, knowing that these cameras can catch reckless drivers in the act. It has also been stated that these cameras save taxpayer money as well. All of these things have been said, but the truth is these statements are false.
There may be an increased risk of accidents in areas where these cameras are located. People get nervous about the prospect of getting a ticket in the mail and have been known to slam on the breaks to avoid getting their picture taken. This can cause an accident increase. It is worth noting that some studies have proved these cameras reduce accidents, but every study that has proved this fact has been funded by car insurance companies. Is this a coincidence or are the results being returned from these studies skewed?
On the flip side, there have been studies performed at the University of South Florida, North Carolina, Ontario Canada and Virginia that show evidence that traffic cameras are not effective. Worse than being ineffective, these studies show that traffic cameras actually compound sever accidents and increase their frequency.
There is an organization that receives a lot of its funding from car insurance companies called the IIHS, or Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. This institute is the only one that has released study findings that indicate that traffic cameras are effective. Analysis of the IIHS findings has revealed that there are some “major research design flaws” like incomplete statistics being used and bad analysis techniques too. The fact of the matter is that these traffic cameras that are funded by the public, result in increased DMV costs, Emergency Services costs and actually increase
car insurance rates.
On a disappointing and related note, there have been several cities in the U.S. that have been found guilty of an insidious new practice. These cities have shortened the time of yellow lights in their districts. These shortened yellow lights cause more people to run red lights. Another name for this practice is entrapment. Among the cities found guilty of this practice are Chattanooga Tennessee and Union City California. There are others that may be found guilty of this kind of driver entrapment in the near future.
A Michigan company called InsureNet has proposed using traffic cameras to identify uninsured drivers in Chicago. According to the ABA Journal, an Internet legal website, there are many jurisdictions across the country that are considering similar moves to what InsureNet has proposed. The cameras would take pictures of license plates and the plate numbers would be run against a database program to determine drivers that are driving without car insurance. This is a disturbing trend in the legal system. InsureNet even stated that in addition to Chicago, they anticipate 3 or 4 more states to sign on for this program in the very near future.