Aurora Sentinel Wants to Ban Technology That Saves Lives
A bizarre thing happens whenever local and state governments debate the merits of electronic traffic enforcement: People who break the law get cast as victims.
The Aurora Sentinel editorial board is the latest local publication to sympathize with red light runners and forget about the people they harm. Yesterday the Sentinel threw its full weight behind a local ballot measure that could ban the life-saving technology in Aurora.
From the paper’s editorial:
Aurora’s dubious affair with companies allowing the city to cash in on careless motorists caught on camera fudging red lights must come to an end.
For several years now, Aurora and its police have tried to persuade the public and state lawmakers that photo red-light ticketing systems make the streets safer.
Neither we nor the public are convinced.
So “fudging” is the verb of choice to describe the act of blowing through a red light and putting people’s lives at risk. At least the author admits that cameras are catching careless drivers in the act.
But the problem, according to the Sentinel, is not careless driving. It’s that drivers get caught doing it — and are expected to pay a fine for endangering others.
If the Sentinel is unconvinced that traffic cameras make intersections safer, it is unconvinced by its own reporting, which found that electronically monitored intersections saw fewer deadly T-bone collisions with bodily injuries, even if fender benders may have increased. National research, including work by the Federal Highway Administration, has reached similar conclusions — red light cameras reduce the most severe crashes and produce a net safety improvement. An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study found that in 14 major American cities with red light cameras, they saved 159 lives from 2004 to 2008.
The Sentinel takes the liberty of including the public to its opinion. Did editors consult Greg Edwards, who was nearly killed by a red light runner at an Aurora intersection? Or how about the people involved in these crashes captured in the above video released by Aurora police?
Aurora decision makers could ignore their police department’s warnings and ban red light cameras. That’s what Houston did. Afterward, fatal crashes jumped 30 percent at intersections that used to have the technology.
The Sentinel suggests redesigning intersections to induce slower speeds, which is a great idea. Too many streets are designed for fast-moving traffic at the expense of people’s safety. But that doesn’t mean that law enforcement should turn a blind eye to dangerous behavior. Lives are at stake.