Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Safety or Revenue?

I found a troubling story in the Dallas Morning News yesterday that is both sad and funny. Dallas City Hall has turned off more than a quarter of its red-light cameras because many of them are failing to generate enough fines. Dallas’ red-light camera system has been such an effective deterrent to drivers running red lights that some intersections have experienced more than 50 percent reduction in offenders. The article said that, “decreased revenue from red light-running violations means significantly less revenue to maintain the camera program and otherwise fuel the city's general fund.” And then we have this gem of a quote from Dallas' assistant director of public works and transportation, “We did not anticipate having such success so early with the number of people not running red lights. If you have success in safety, you don't have a lot of success in revenue.” This is the same “catch 22” that some States are having with tobacco revenues. They use the tax money to fund child healthcare programs, while doing all they can to discourage smoking. Dallas could do what San Diego did a few years ago – shorten the number of seconds a traffic light stays yellow before turning red!


Mark said...

Totally off the subject: Apple has released Safari for Windows. Little by little, Apple is taking over my computer!

Back to the subject:

You know I am in the business of making sure business are adequately protected against fires and other losses. The concept we live by is, the cost of prevention is always less than the cost of the loss.

It saddens me to see that Dallas is more caught up in the cost of maintaining a system than the cost of lives that are hurt or lost when they are t-boned by a red light runner. I was t-boned at a low speed by someone trying to cross traffic. To this day, my hip still gets pain. I can only imagine the damage that is done at 30-40 mph on some of these roads.

Talking about safety as a source of revenue is putting the cart before the horse. A byproduct of safety laws and regulations is revenue from enforcement. Protect people and our environment is and should be the primary drive for regulation.

Just one more case where Dallas City Hall is screwing up by the numbers.

Charles North said...

They also found that injuries from rear-end collisions went way up after installing the red light cameras. Just another example of the la of unintended consequences.