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OP-ED: Red Light Cameras Won't Improve Road Safety And Will Use Funds Best Used Elsewhere

Feb 29, 2020 08:44AM ● By Rep. David Robertson, D-19th Middlesex
As anyone who drives down Route 38 can attest, our traffic volume in Tewksbury  and Wilmington is continuing to increase.
 School, work, errands, sports – there are a  seemingly endless number of reasons why we are spending more and more time in  our vehicles, rushing here and there, trying to make everything fit into the tight  schedule of life. And in doing so, who hasn’t pushed the boundaries of the occasional  yellow light?
We all have and yet we all know we shouldn’t. Yellow becomes red –  and that can change things for you, very quickly. Whether it’s the police cruiser sitting at the intersection or another car whose light just turned green, there could  be a heavy price to pay for taking that risk. It is a danger we all face while out on the  road – and now there is a new old solution again being offered: red light cameras.
However, these cameras would be doing a lot more than just policing red  light runners, they will be able to record and ticket you for speeding, driving in a bus  lane, and a multitude of other “ticket-­‐able” offenses.
 If this all seems a little too  Orwellian for you, you’re not alone. Besides the significant privacy and revenue-­‐ generating issues at play here, red light cameras aren’t all they’re cracked-­‐up to be  when it comes to their supposed main job: minimizing accidents. A 2017 Case  Western University/Arizona University joint study found that red light cameras  merely traded one type of accident for others; “broadsides” were reduced in areas  with cameras but “rear-­‐endings” and other types of accidents actually increased.
 Most importantly, there was no reduction to the frequency of injuries at  intersections where cameras had been installed. On the other hand, ABC News  reported that a simple 1.5 second yellow light time extension was shown to reduce  
all accidents by 50%. Isn’t that interesting?
So what exactly is driving this most recent push for red light cameras? We all  want safer roads – but as we see, the cameras aren’t an effective solution in the regard.  What we do know they’ll be effective at is separating drivers from their cash while ignoring real, permanent solutions to high-crash intersections.
Let’s instead improve our roads.
Let’s focus on enforcing our  current laws against distracted drivers. And while we’re at it, let’s stretch those  yellows out a bit and see if we can increase the flow of traffic without the flow of cash, cash originating from failed infrastructure.
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