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Rochester issues a red light camera ticket every six minutes, according to an analysis by the Democrat and Chronicle. Most tickets are issued to people in poor neighborhoods, even if they don’t have red light cameras. The city is expected to haul in more than $1.5 million this year.

The cameras, the first of which were installed in 2010, are now up at 31 intersections.

The purpose of this program is to make us safer. But a city analysis of the effectiveness of the cameras has so far proven inconclusive. Crashes increased at some intersections and decreased at others. One of the reasons the city statistician can’t do an effective study yet is the intersections have such low crash volumes. 

The intersections studied had no fatalities in the year before or after the cameras were installed. They had very few personal injury accidents. Is the red light camera program a solution in search of a problem?

Furthermore, if the city continues to churn out tickets at this rate, it’s clear the cameras are not changing behavior. (One ticket has been issued for every three residents in the 14619 Zip Code.)

The cameras are bringing in so much revenue, it’s difficult to see the city ever pulling the plug, despite public sentiment and need for the devices.

City of Rochester analysis of red light cameras, as published in D&C


Links of the Day:

– She was found dead in a vacant house in Rochester, tortured and raped. Her back was broken. Her killer hasn’t been found.

Do police really belong in schools?

– Does the NFL have a crime problem? Statistics suggest the answer is no.

– “In at least seven U.S. states, constitutional provisions are in place that bar atheists from public office.”

There’s no need to buy extended warranties for electronics.

8 Responses to Solution in Search of Problem

  1. December 10, 2012 at 9:12 am Hahvahd St responds:

    Here’s a good way to avoid red light tickets- Don’t run red lights!! It’s pretty well publicized where they are, and they have a large blue flashing light on top of them. Personally, I like the idea that people might start slowing up at a yellow light in the city rather than speeding up to beat the light.

  2. The Monroe Av overpass of 490 near Field St really needs one. At each light change at least 3-4 cars run the lights – cops, city buses, schools buses, everyone seems to think it’s ok.

  3. The cameras are a cash cow for the city but could it get so bad that visitors will think twice about going to Rochester and the poor are driven more heavily into debt? People may mass protest by refusing to pay tickets if the situation gets too bad. I’ve heard rumors that the cameras can move in unison and have other uses than traffic control, yes or paranoia? As for electronics, with computers I have have had cause to use the warranty several times and usually I get one. The only time I didn’t the product was hell and I spent many times over paying for repairs because I couldn’t afford to buy a new one. The repairs came in spurts, not altogether. Lesson always buy the extended warranty on those. As for police in schools, I was at East High when our principal pressed tor police in the schools. He was quite clear and it is true that if the adults don’t take charge in keeping students safe the students will take it into their own hands by bringing in weapons or not attending out of fear. The reason that minority schools are affected is because of more violence and poverty in their neighborhoods and that something has happened in the school before. Poverty brings out many problems and one of them is violence. When police aren’t needed they will be gone. What we need is the dedication of government and industry to end poverty and provide fair wages and work.

  4. December 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm theodore kumlander responds:

    in the 70s and 80s they were police in the high schools but in the 90s they were pulled out because the RPD was going to start charging RCSD for the officers. which was kind of odd RPDs jusdiction is anywhere in the city.

    in the 2000s the cops are brought back because evryone at RCSD was and is scared to touch a student because of law suits but the cops can grab the kids pepper spray them cuff them and they won’t get sued.

    RPD is here to stay in the public schools and it not just the city suburbs have them too.

  5. December 10, 2012 at 1:05 pm Ginny Maier responds:

    I really dislike the principle of red light cameras — it seems overly intrusive for a minimal benefit in public safety and definitely feels primarily like a money-making opportunity for the city. But I also don’t think one can conclude yet that the cameras are NOT changing behavior — there was nothing in the D&C article about whether ticketing has gone down over time at camera intersections and there’s some reason to expect that they have a net positive effect on behavior based on the crash data.

    In general though, I agree with your last paragraph. Now that they are a revenue stream and have some, even minor, positive impact on public safety, they’re here to stay (or until they are too costly to maintain) For someone who thinks they are crummy policy, the time to stop these cameras was before they went in.

    • December 10, 2012 at 5:13 pm Rachel Barnhart responds:

      Ginny, I have seen data showing the same ticks month to month at the same intersections. You’re right, though, it is early.

  6. December 10, 2012 at 8:26 pm Cary Barnhart responds:

    I drive around the city all the time and see people run red lights all the time. It’s illegal. They need to pay. But I guess I don’t understand it’s a culture thing. How did I ever become so ignorant.

  7. Red light cameras, police in schools….interesting that these two topics are linked in the same blog. To me, they both indicate respect for the law and how do people in a society co-exist. Let’s start with traffic lights. The only way driving can be safe is if everyone abides by the laws. Stopping at red lights is as basic as it gets. People NEED to realize that this is the law. It’s not that you need to stop unless you are in a hurry, or nobody is coming. You need to stop…period. Get in the habit of obeying the laws of the land. The schools are similar. This is where young people learn, not only about subjects, but about social skills and how to co-exist with others. How did we ever get to this point where police need to be in the schools. I will blame the do-gooder, political correct, everyone is a winner, there are no losers, etc. attitude that has been prevelant for the last 20+ years. The young of today do not understand how to follow rules or understand that there are consequences for your actions. Only if parents, schools, police, courts, media, etc. support the increase in getting back to a respect of the law and the respect of your fellow man will we change the environment we now find ourselves. I believe any objection to red light cameras or police in schools as an attack on the poor is looking at it from the wrong perspective. Poor is no excuse for unlawful behavior. Just my thoughts….

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