Early use of Red Light Cameras may have not taken driver behavior into consideration, however we can use its history to move forward. Many of you may have witnessed these while driving or perhaps seen TV specials associated with such cameras and the revenue ($500 per violation) they bring to a city versus the actual benefit associated with having them (accident reduction).
Recently, my daughter asked me, “Dad, where did the red light camera go that was here at this intersection? Wasn’t there one?” It made me do some research when I got into the office. I found a dated article of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, dated January 21, 2014, titled: “Red-light cameras being stopped across Southern California, country”.
I learned that Red Light Cameras were being removed on a grand scale. This is of particular interest to me, as I keep a very close eye on driver behavior and the use of technology as an influence. Apparently, this technology was introduced back in the 1980s and it’s mostly small cities, that depend on the revenue stream, that continue to use them. According to the article, more California cities have removed the cameras than currently using them.
It seems that the rationale for having the cameras has been disproved. Although the cameras have resulted in less side-impact accidents, the number of rear-end collisions has gone up immensely. “A Virgina Department of Transportation study concluded rear-end collisions increased between 31 percent and 54 percent at intersections with red-light cameras, including an 18 percent increase in injury-related accidents.” Other information indicated that lengthening the yellow light provided results showing far few broad-side accidents. Wow, this would have been a lot cheaper than implementing all of those red-light cameras.
It’s wise for us to continue to use technology solve problems. Although new technology often solves the targeted problem, it can simultaneously create another. It’s similar to installing a specific piece of technology in a vehicle to assist with driving behavior but that same technology may make so much noise it creates a new issue, “additional noise pollution within the cab/distraction.” This is the same as a handyman’s job taking an hour when it could have taken five minutes with the right tool. Not all technology is the answer, only the right technology. In the case of driver behavior, we must also remember that we are trying to combine human and artificial intelligence to have a very specific/desired result.