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Red Light Cameras- More Harm than Good?

Photo of a Stoplight

Image Credit James Bowe

If you have ever driven up and down North Scottsdale Road, you know how many red-light cameras there are. The obvious reason for them is to make the roads safer by discouraging drivers from running red-lights. However, recent studies have shown that these cameras may do more harm than good. The reason most of us would think of is that we are so frightened of getting a ticket that we slam on our brakes when we see a yellow instead of traveling through the intersection, and endangering the cars behind us.

However, one reason most people are not aware of is that the contracts between the city and private companies who operate these cameras actually encourage the city to maintain unsafe intersections. Many of these contracts grant the red-light camera provider with a percentage of the money paid on the ticket. Thus, these companies want more money so often times build into their contracts a provision requiring the city to write a minimum number of tickets each year to drivers, or else pay the company a fine. Thus, the cities have an incentive to create shorter yellow-lights, and a disincentive to change the intersection to prevent less red-light running. One can only wonder where the money from our red-light tickets is going…

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