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Have Red Light Speed Cameras Saved Lives in Virginia?

8:41 AM PDT on June 22, 2009

Today on the Streetsblog Network, we've got a post from The WashCycle about speeding, new red light cameras and a reduction in fatalities in Montgomery County, VA. Police there report that "a 2008 study of 11 camera locations found a 25 percent reduction in crashes on the roads where the speed cameras were located."
Deaths have gone to 9 from 19 over a the same period last year. While
the WashCycle cautions against reading too much into a relatively small
amount of data, they also say the cameras have likely been effective.
They also report on some novel citizen objections to the technology:

136414178_b9bb1f3508_m.jpgPhoto by Michael Patrick via Flickr.

It is reasonable to assume that the cameras should get some credit -- if not the lion's share. As Prof. Steven Dutch
puts it, "Correlation doesn't prove causation when there is no
plausible link between two phenomena, or when there is some more
plausible cause. But if there is a plausible link, then correlation is very strong evidence for causation."

I've
heard several arguments against speed cameras; such as privacy issues,
not being able to face your accuser, manipulation of the data or
circumstances to increase violations and, thus, revenue. But this is a
new one:

"'I am against the speed cameras. No. 1, I don't
think they pick up one of the major hazards on our roadways in
Montgomery County right now -- bicyclists,' resident Reardon Sullivan
told the Montgomery County Council."

Really? Bicyclists? Not drunk drivers?
Not inattentive drivers? Especially since we're talking about speed
cameras (not red light cameras) -- and it is very difficult for
cyclists to speed.

More from around the network: The National Journal asks the experts what difference an 18-month delay in the transpo bill would actually make; World Streets talks about scientific methods for reducing driving; and The Overhead Wire looks at transit-oriented development in a down economy.

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