Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Whither Red Light Cameras

The Los Angeles city counsel voted to remove red light cameras. The decision seems to be purely driven by costs to the city government.
Critics accused the council of hypocrisy, in that the American Traffic Solutions contract was spared from the boycott only because it was believed to be generating income for the city. However, a city audit of 2010 departmental budgets found the program was failing to generate the projected levels of income. In fact, amid a budget crisis, the city was found to be pumping more than $1 million into the program to keep it solvent.

At the same time the most extensive study yet indicates that red light cameras save lives.
"These findings show clearly that red light cameras offer significant safety benefits," said Troy Walden, author of the TTI study. "Most important, they help prevent the most severe and deadly type of intersection crashes."

This may a case of hidden benefits rather than hidden costs. Use of red light cameras is likely to be a cost effective way to save lives and thus make Los Angeles a more attractive place to live. Counsel members are mostly interested in budgets. Any other benefits not directly affecting the decision makers are ignored. Too bad elected officials have perverse incentives when it comes to serving their constituents.

1 comment:

  1. I wish they had decided this before I got a ticket from a red light camera, in a rental car, in January 2011. They mailed the ticket to me about a month later. It was apparently a pretty efficient system.