School Districts Debate Use of Automatic Traffic Cameras


School districts across the United States continue to debate the value of traffic cameras near campuses, with some eager to begin and others ending their commitments.

Decisions have been mainly conflicted between the camera’s function to reduce accidents and the large ticked costs incurred due to lack of proper human judgment by the devices.

Nassau County, New York legislators passed a unanimous vote last December to revoke their introduction of school speed cameras after the program was considered too controversial. The cameras, which were meant for improving school safety, received criticism because residents were not informed of their installation and function prior to being introduced.

The cameras were set up at a time when most residents were not aware of certain schools’ summer classes and none of the devices were programmed to issue a warning ticket first. As a result, over 400,000 tickets were issued since September, garnering $32 million in revenue for the county and leaving residents doubting if the entire flawed program was a money making scheme, writes Jennifer Fauci of Plainview Old Bethpage Herald.

The security initiative, previously supported by representatives from both Democrats and Republicans, was unanimously voted for termination. Nassau County Legislator Judy Jacobs also called for suspension of the program due to its lack of transparency.

“My final thought on the program is that it was seriously flawed, however, speeding is a serious problem and we must all be aware of the need to respect a school zone and to alter our driving as responsible residents. Please drive carefully.”

Data provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit scientific and educational organization funded by the insurance industry, showed that the proportion of US communities installing red light cameras fell 13 percent while the number of communities employing speed cameras had risen by 119 percent over recent years, writes David Porter of Claims Journal.

Red light cameras in New Jersey were repealed due to a number of their malfunctions, such as a yellow light timing controversy, a glitch that prevented the issue of tickets and one that led to a federal lawsuit initiated by a resident. In Ohio, a bill was passed ensuring the presence of a police officer to dictate traffic camera feedback, a move that most people felt countered the need for setting up the cameras in the first place.

Russ Rader, IIHS senior vice president, shared the opinion of those who still claimed that the cameras were valuable safety tools despite their flaws.

“The research is clear that photo enforcement works. It’s effective in reducing violations and in reducing crashes, both red-light cameras and speed cameras. There is no question that lives will be lost because New Jersey has decided to end the program.”

Woodlawn’s city Transportation Department started a speed camera pilot run to deter drivers speeding through hilly residential streets. The cameras will continue to operate until the end of January.

In Washington, Bellevue continues to equip its streets with more traffic cameras, especially on the busiest intersections, to curb ongoing pedestrian and driver safety issues. The introduction of cameras have caused roughly a 50% decrease in violations within the employed areas. The police department assured that the program was more focused on ensuring resident compliance rather than incurring money (at a $124 dollar fine per ticket). The program will start issuing tickets by the end of January.

01 13, 2015
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