Wednesday, 02 February 2011 19:38

Stop Giving Green Light To Red Light Cameras

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Jeff Crouere--Louisiana PoliticsA new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety claims that red light cameras reduce the number of fatal car crashes. The report analyzed data from 1996 to 2004 in 14 cities across the country that installed red light cameras. The study concluded that fatal crashes decreased by 24 percent in these cities, supposedly a result of the red light cameras. According to Adrian Lund of the Institute, “red light cameras are working.”

Of course, the reductions in fatal crashes could be due to other factors as well, such as an increase usage of seat belts or safer vehicles. These reductions in crashes could also be apparent in cities not implementing red light cameras.

The study leads some to conclude that red light cameras are great to install in practically every street corner in America. In reality, it is a way for politicians to continue to receive revenue without the pain of cutting the budget. Lund praises municipalities for installing the cameras and having the “courage to use this method of enforcement.” In fact, the cameras are anything but courageous for communities are trying to continue the cost of big government without taking the courageous step of cutting the budget.

The red light cameras are not constitutional for due process rights of motorists are not being followed. Instead of being presumed innocent, motorists with these citations are presumed guilty. It is almost impossible to throw out one of these tickets although there could be a variety of legitimate reasons why a ticket was issued.

Many times tickets are issued by mistake or when motorists have to cross an intersection due to an emergency vehicle. Some motorists are trapped at intersections when the light turns yellow and because of the fear of the ticket, they slam on their brakes. The result is that rear end collisions increase..

Some communities shorten the period for the yellow light to increase the number of tickets issued and revenue collected. If the concern was really for public safety and not revenue, the first objective would be to increase the yellow light period. Of course, quite often, just the opposite occurs.

All across the country, communities have rejected these types of cameras when the people are given a chance to vote. Unfortunately, in most areas, politicians are installing the cameras without a vote of the people. For example, in New Orleans, more and more intersections have the red light cameras. In addition, speed cameras have been installed in the middle of some streets. Yet, there has been no vote of the people on whether they approve of these so-called safety devices. What is really happening is that the people of New Orleans, as well as other communities across the country, are being pick-pocketed by the politicians.

As the ticket revenue flows in, consultants and the camera companies get a piece of the action. Sadly, one of the major camera companies is based outside of the United States. So our ticket revenue is flowing into bank accounts of foreigners. This is beyond disgusting and needs to stop.

Hopefully, Louisiana State Representative Jeff Arnold (D-Algiers) will once again introduce legislation in the upcoming legislative session to ban these cameras across the state or at very least give the people of Louisiana a chance to vote. We need to pressure the legislators to do the right thing and stop being held hostage by local politicians and highly paid lobbyists.
Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at E-mail him at [email protected].



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