1/5/2011Washington, Missouri Dumps Red Light Cameras
Washington, Missouri decides to end a red light camera program that failed to produce any safety benefit.
The city council in Washington, Missouri no longer believes that red light cameras have a positive impact on safety. Members voted 6 to 2 on Monday to allow the automated ticketing contract with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to expire, and Mayor Sandy Lucy agreed to draft a letter to the for-profit company making it clear that the council has no interest in ever bringing the devices back.
Councilman Tim Buddemeyer took issue with the attempt by an ATS front group to exploit the story of an accident in Arnold that took the life of ten-year-old Kayla Tremeear and goad the council into extending the contract. Buddemeyer told the story of his own cousin who was killed by a drunk driver who ran a red light.
"The bottom line: if there would have been a red light camera there, it wouldn't have prevented the tragedy or accident," Buddemeyer said. "But if there was an officer who would have seen him driving erratic and stopped him before he got to the intersection, she might be here as we speak. I don't think the red light cameras save lives."
Councilman John Rhodes pointed out that in the case of the incident that took the life of Kayla Tremeear, the driver admitted that he was fiddling with the radio and never saw the light.
"The irony here is that the worst he would have gotten is a ticket in the mail three weeks later asking him to pay the $100 fine for the red light," Rhodes said. "That wouldn't have eliminated the death, either... I guess the sad part of Kayla's story was she didn't die because her car was T-boned. She died because she was not seat belted. She was thrown from the vehicle and the car landed on top of her and crushed her. That's a horrible way to die, but they didn't tell you that story, you had to go investigate it and find it."
Rhodes was not interested in making his decision based on an anecdote. In addition to the findings of the police chief presented last month, Rhodes analyzed six years' worth of accident data and found that the primary cause of the accidents at the monitored intersections has been driver inattention. He found that only 6 percent of collisions -- 14 out of 215 -- were caused by drivers who violated a red light. National statistics in the United States and the United Kingdom agree that inattention is a primary cause of accidents.
"I can't argue with the numbers," American Traffic Solutions salesman Dan Reeb admitted in response to Rhodes. "I'm not going to argue that point."
At the meeting, ATS representatives made a last minute offer to waive the contractual notice requirements to delay the vote. They also offered to hold educational presentations to the council, but it was not interested. Several members of the public, including former Councilman Guy Midkiff, addressed the council to express opposition to automated ticketing. After the final vote was taken, the audience burst into applause.