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6/6/2009
Rear End Accidents Prove Deadly
Traffic cameras cause serious accidents in Tucson, Arizona; Victorville, California and Singapore.

Arizona rear end collision, 6/3/09
Supporters of the use of photo enforcement around the country insist red light cameras and speed cameras are primarily designed to "save lives." When faced with independent studies showing the overall number of accidents can actually increase where intersection cameras are installed (view studies), supporters like Illinois state Senator John J. Millner (R-St. Charles) counter that the type of accidents caused by red light cameras is not worth worrying about.

"This does save lives," Millner said during a 2006 debate on expanding the use of red light cameras. "Will there be more rear-end accidents? Perhaps there may, but those typically aren't life threatening. The T-bone accidents are. This saves lives."

On Wednesday, a woman locked in the back of an Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) police car burned to death as a result of a rear end collision on Interstate 10 near Tucson. The Ford Crown Victoria models used by DPS are known to explode when struck from behind. Even though the cruiser was equipped with a special fire suppression system, it failed to prevent the fire. A similar sort of high-speed, rear end collision can happen on a freeway where speed cameras are used.

A preliminary examination of Scottsdale's freeway camera program found a 54 percent increase in rear end collisions accompanied the 110,962 automated tickets issued in 2006. These accidents happened as motorists nearing the cameras panicked and braked suddenly to avoid receiving a citation. They were then struck from behind by motorists who failed to react in time to the unexpected maneuver.

A similar panic reaction caused a serious injury accident in Victorville, California, also on Wednesday. According to the Victorville Daily Press, a driver afraid of earning a $426 ticket slammed on the brakes during a yellow light at Bear Valley Road and Seventh Avenue. This driver stopped in time. The driver immediately behind also stopped in time after applying the brakes at full force. The third vehicle behind was driven by a woman who did not stop in time. Her minivan slammed the second vehicle into the first. The woman's injuries were so serious that she had to be taken by helicopter to the Arrowhead Regional Medical Center.

In Singapore, The New Paper reports that a speed camera on Loyang Avenue near Pasir Ris Drive is causing accidents.

"When they realize the camera is there, they jam their brakes," one resident explained to The New Paper.

That is precisely what caused a large truck carrying soil to lose control on May 2. The skidding vehicle slammed into the center divider and overturned. The driver was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

In the UK, a pair of sudden braking accidents caused by speed cameras were caught on a BBC news video (watch video on YouTube, accident at the 1:56 mark).



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