Kansas City’s red light cameras. Not a cash cow after all?

Posted: October 25, 2009 in Clay County Politicians in the News
Tags: , , , ,

I had to briefly comment on the issue of red light cameras in Kansas City after I ran across a couple articles about Deb Hermann and the topic at hand.You can find the links on the Clay County Politicians in the News page.

A cry has gone out across America. Protect our intersections! Install red light cameras! Get rich quick!

No, this is not some infomercial that the Kansas City City Council watched on late night TV. More than likely this is the mentality that went into the decision to spend $1.7 million dollars on 29 red light cameras to be installed at select intersections throughout the metro. We have one here in Clay County at the intersection of Flintlock Rd. and 152 Highway.

The question remains do these cameras actually work. Well according to this KMBC article, not really well. The city has recouped their expenses, but in the process has racked up 6000 challenges to tickets dispensed by these computerized policeman. Currently we have 3000 tickets that are still being challenged and that means we have to allocate resources to address the challenges. Cops are putting in overtime reviewing the tapes and looking at the tickets.

There is a video interview of City Councilwoman Deb Hermann on the KMBC article referred to above. I was glad to see that she was skeptical about these cameras. I am curious though if she originally supported the idea, I do not know. The good news it that there is no more plans to install new cameras. The question becomes though how much money and time are we going to continue to waste on reviewing the amount of tickets being dispensed?

There are other issues with red light cameras as well:

  • These cameras can ticket you for stopping past the white line of the intersection. Thanks for doing the right thing and slamming on the brakes because you didn’t want a ticket and didn’t want to run the light. Your consolation prize is another ticket though. Enjoy!
  • Do they actually reduce crashes? Ms. Hermann is concerned about this as well. I have seen evidence that supports the fact that rear-end crashes increase in intersections. Why? Because, believe it or not, there are times when it benefits the situation for human intuition to take over and the driver to actually run the light. Slamming on the brakes to avoid the ticket might cause the person behind you to enter the back seat of your car. In fairness I have read some research that says the cameras do reduce fatality accidents in intersections once the camera is installed.
  • There is that pesky issue of someone else driving the car that was ticketed but isn’t the actual owner. Little Billy driving mom and dad’s car. I would imagine that this leads to a challenge as well.
  • For many there is the issue of their civil liberties being violated.

Whatever the case right now, I think these cameras are costing us more than their worth. Cops have better things to do than sit and review camera footage of red light violators. The Kansas City urban core could better utilize the services that are being allocated to the nanny state cameras.

One bit of humor in all of this. The City Mis-Manager Wayne “I need an assistant to help me do my job” Cauthen got caught by a camera running a red light at 71 highway and 57th street. Way to go Wayne!

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