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!