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Guest Opinion

Red light camera companies are after profits, not safety


Warrington’s red light cameras will be utterly despised by most of the township’s residents and visitors. The public has become aware that almost all tickets given by red light cameras go to safe drivers who endangered no one, and the only real results are monetary.

Simply adding one second to the yellow intervals on the township’s traffic lights would be almost certain to immediately reduce the violation rates by significantly more than 6 to 12 months of using the cameras can achieve.

But you will likely find that PennDOT will refuse to allow Warrington to make that simple adjustment to improve safety by more than the cameras can achieve.

Why would they likely refuse? That will likely happen because ARLE (Automated Red Light Enforcement) programs are for-profit ways for PennDOT to accumulate funds.

Government departments like PennDOT gain power and influence in relationship to their total budgets, and the ARLE program increases their total budget revenue to give them more power and influence.

But if the yellow intervals are lengthened by one second to reduce the violation rates by at least 60% and more likely 70% to 90%, then ARLE cameras would issue too few tickets for the total fines to pay the $4,000 to $5,000 per month per camera costs and the program would lose money.

Without profits, PennDOT and the for-profit camera companies will not be interested in the program.

Involving for-profit camera companies in any part of traffic enforcement guarantees that the real focus will be profits, not safety.

Philadelphia’s red light camera program continues, despite the fact police department data from both 2005 and 2011 showed increased crashes at camera intersections in Philadelphia.

Also note the Philadelphia Police Department does not share in the camera revenue, but their own data showed increased crashes both in 2005 when the program was new and continuing in 2011 when up for renewal.

PennDOT and the for-profit camera companies will seek to use Warrington for more profits, not for more safety.

Tom McCarey lives in Chester County.

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