9/3/2015Study Questions Value of Virginia Beach Red Light Cameras
Study shows injury accidents increased 19.5 percent at red light camera intersections in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Injury accidents increased at the intersections in Virginia Beach, Virginia that used red light cameras, according to a new study commissioned by the National Motorists Association. According to the analysis by Joe Bahen, an ITE member and licensed engineer, the city's 13 camera-enforced intersections experienced a 19.5 percent jump in injury and fatal collisions, as compared to the city's signalized intersections that had no cameras.
The report reviewed data from 2006 to 2012. More recent data was excluded because a state-mandated increase in yellow signal timing in 2013 would have skewed the results. While accidents decreased at the camera-free intersections from 2009 to 2012, they increased at the photo enforced intersections. Virginia Beach officials continue to support the cameras despite knowing about the accident increase, which is mentioned in a recent city report on the camera program. Although Bahen offered a more comprehensive analysis that used control intersections, city officials downplayed the importance of rigorous analysis.
"I agree that our report was not prepared using a true scientific methodology, nor was it intended to do so," Virginia Beach Police Chief James A. Cervera wrote. "There have been many papers written regarding the effectiveness of red light running cameras, some with conflicting conclusions. What can be concluded is that it is very difficult to determine what benefits, if any, can be attributed to the cameras alone and what is caused by other factors in the environment."
Over 83.5 percent of the citations Redflex issued in the city went to cars photographed making right-hand turns on red. Bahen argues that the majority of these were making slow, rolling turns that could have been legally completed had a green turning arrow or a flashing yellow right arrow been installed at the intersection. Bahen pointed out that under state law, engineering improvements such as the use of dedicated turn signals are not optional and must be made prior to the installation of cameras.
"In the absence of the required studies and upgrades to right-turn signals, camera-enforcement of right-turn movements should be suspended immediately," Bahen explained.
The embattled Australian firm Redflex Traffic Systems is in charge of the Virginia Beach cameras. According to the firm's former executive vice president, Redflex bribed city officials in Virginia into using red light cameras. Virginia Beach is among a handful of cities where officials could have taken the illicit cash.
A copy of the report is available in a 600k PDF file at the source link below.