Zippidy Doo Da

I'm not stupid, I'm from Texas!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Redlight Cameras

Interesting bit in the Tuesday Chronicle about how car crashes are down at intersections where the red light cameras were turned off. This could be an important finding because almost as many Americans are killed in auto accidents as by gunfire every year.

This phenomena makes sense; drivers were accustomed to running redlights, but modified their behavior when threatened with a camera-generated tickets. This made for lots of sudden stops, and lots of people got rear-ended. Now that the cameras are turned-off, fewer panic stops, fewer collisions.

Myself, I voted to keep the cameras. I can think of two people I knew who might be alive today but for somebody running a red light. But when the referendum to remove the cameras passed, I was pleased too because I spend a lot of time waiting at redlights in this city, where the lights still aren’t all repaired from the last hurricane. So now when there’s no traffic I’ll go back to disregarding the signals. With caution.

Does this story speak to the law of unintended consequences, the ‘be careful what you wish for’ syndrome? Maybe not; given time, we may have seen less carnage as people learned to observe and obey traffic signals. It’s not always true that “government governs best which governs least.” In a city of 3 million people, anarchy on the roads would be tragic.


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