10/24/2007Stockton, California Report Shows Accidents Jump With Cameras
Stockton, California intends on expanding red light camera program after report shows an increase in accidents and fatalities.
The total number of collisions in Stockton, California increased ten percent at the intersections where red light cameras were installed, according to a city audit report released Monday. The city maintains that the devices have created a "halo effect" of good driving habits that has spread throughout the city. The results, however, show that the total number of accidents citywide jumped after the devices began issuing citations.
Between 1999 and 2003, before cameras were installed, there were an average of 14 fatal collisions each year in Stockton. After cameras were activated, fatalities climbed 47 percent to 20.7 per year between 2004 and 2006.
The city, nonetheless, has declared the program a success with the city auditor suggestion a boost in the number of cameras from twelve to twenty. Since the program began July 14, 2004, Redflex has issued 21,202 tickets worth $7 million. For its services, Redflex, the Australian company in charge of red light camera ticketing, kept $1,926,672. After various state and local jurisdictions take their share, Stockton pockets $183,078 in profit each year.
The audit notes that only five of the camera intersections had a "high incidence" of traffic collisions when installed. The city also ignored the Federal Highway Administration recommendation that engineering alternatives be implemented before resorting to the use of enforcement.
"Based on our discussions with staff from Public Works Traffic Engineering Division, we determined a formal documented engineering study is not performed on candidate intersections," the audit found.
The report also recommends that police actually measure the safety performance of the program against measurable collision reduction goals.
The auditor downplays the results by suggesting increases in population and traffic volume between 2003 and 2005 account for the jump in collisions. The auditor also reports that police have recorded fewer injuries in accident reports. The UK Statistics Commission and British Medical Journal has suggested that police intentionally underreport the number of injuries as a means of promoting photo enforcement as public policy. The number of traffic injuries reported by UK hospitals increased despite police records claiming a decrease.
A full copy of the report is available in a 190k PDF file at the source link below.