UPDATE – Michigan considers red light cameras

Back in April I posted the following:

Here is an interesting topic.  Michigan law currently doesn’t allow traffic cameras but it is discussed periodically–usually in the context of raising revenue.  Some cash strapped communities have explored the idea thinking that getting a cut of the fines would be a positive.  What has happened in  other states is that there is a big citizen backlash.  It also doesn’t generate as much revenue over time as when they are first installed.  Drivers learn where the cameras are and become more careful not to violate –of course if there is nothing keeping an unscrupulous vendor from tinkering with the light timings they are free to change things up to generate more profits for the community and the vendor.  Some research suggests that the cameras cause more crashes than they deter.

You’ve heard me say it before:  Traffic citations should be about traffic safety first and foremost–not revenue generation.

Traffic Cameras Draw More Scrutiny by States – NYTimes.com.

The Michigan Legislature now has 2 bills they are considering to allow local communities to put up red light cameras.  Research is mixed on its traffic safely effectiveness.  Here is an M-Live article on this legislation.

Here is what I would argue:

If the goal is traffic safety the cameras should only be permitted where data shows a high propensity for right angle crashes in which the light is a factor.  The light’s effectiveness should be evaluated at least annually to determine if crashes have increased or decreased.  Vendor who install the cameras should be prohibited from changing the light timings without a proper chain of accountability through city officials.

If it is really about generation of revenue, that is a whole different matter.