I nearly flew out of my chair when I heard Patrick McLean, Finance Director, tell Toledo City Council at their meeting today that they will install 11 additional cameras with the hopes of raising about $320,000.
Of course, this relies upon people not running the red lights.
The problem, as I've detailed previously, is that the more people get used to red light and speed cameras, the less the revenue there is from violations. Since 2009 when the city added speed cameras and negotiated a higher percentage of the fines, the revenue has steadily decreased. This means that the city, in order to continue to collect their targeted budget amounts, must constantly expand the big-brother-type surveillance.
And now, they want the additional revenue from the additional cameras to go to recreational programs - who could argue with that?!?
Can't you just see the ads now?
* Run a red light - it's for the children!
* When you run a red light, that money goes to buy eggs for the annual Easter Egg hunt. Don't let needy children go without an egg on Easter - run a red light today!
and my favorite for which I even made a poster
* Without government recreational programs, kids will turn to crime. So run a red light ... commit a crime to keep kids from becoming criminals.
Of course, this time around, they're actually admitting the cameras are to generate revenue - not for the safety of motorists, as they've claimed previously.
Remember what traffic researcher and highway safety advocate with the motorist advocacy group National Motorists Association Barnet Fagel said:
“There’s no need for cameras if intersections are safe,” explains Fagel. “Cameras document traffic engineering errors. They don’t prevent collisions, they only record them.”
“If an intersection is properly engineered you don’t need cameras. I feel as long as intersections are inherently unsafe they will be profitable for the camera company and the village.”
It's what I said originally, but here's an 'expert' saying the exact same thing.
So I guess there's no need for any traffic engineering studies - not that the city did any in the first place. There's no need to try all reds in every direction before the light turns green - and no need to expand the yellow light time. In fact, since this is all about revenue, they'll probably shorten the yellow light time, as they've been accused of doing in the past, just to ensure more people get a ticket for running the red light. Talk about enhancing safety.
Perhaps, as numerous towns are ending their red light programs and evidence is mounting that the cameras actually cause more accidents, it's probably a good thing that Toledo is so opening admitting that it's not about safety, but about the bottom line.
My only hope is that City Council will say no to additional red light cameras in order to fund recreational programs. But if we can't stop them from installing more cameras, maybe we can at least get them to dedicate the revenue to repair our decrepit roads.