Zealots and advocates

Traffic control is one area where zealotry and confused motivations combine to a dangerous poison. As red light cameras grow more popular, an academic dispute at USF simmers provides an example.

It seems some research as the USF College of Public Health “concluded that instead of improving safety, the cameras actually make intersections more dangerous. Further, its study said, the cameras give insurance companies a reason to jack up rates for those who get tickets.” The director of the USF Center for Urban Transportation takes exception to the findings and has conducted a publicity campaign to impugn the research.

Red light and speed camera traps are favorite point of interest collections for personal navigation devices. They represent one area where the taint of money is real and omnipresent. The whole idea of automated traffic control is to reduce the expense of generating tickets. The taint of money shows in this case in that “Trauma center hospitals, facing budget cuts, were in search of revenue. They had been approached by vendors of red light cameras to support bills in the Legislature that would make them legal in the state. In exchange, they’d get a cut of the money, according to the researchers.”

Besides such blatant money grabs, municipalities also have to repair the reputation that has been earned by shortening yellow light times in intersections monitored by automated equipment and the use of arbitrary and rapidly changing speed limits in certain areas. All of these behaviors taint the traffic control issues as being for reasons other than safety.

But that does not matter to some zealots. As is the case here, there are some who are absolutely convinced that the issue is safety and will bend the rules of evidence to create a reality they desire. That makes it very difficult to repair the damage and actually create safety improvements.

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