Fairfax City Councilman Dan Drummond is apparently the official salesman for red light cameras in Northern Virginia. We’d like to know why. Here’s what he said:
“The city of Fairfax and other jurisdictions in the Commonwealth are not making money off this. It’s purely a safety program…. When we had the program there were about 325 fewer T-bone or side-impact accidents. These are the most dangerous that you can find, as opposed to the rear fender-bender (where) there was a slight increase.”
Really? Look at the actual VDOT data. Overall in Virginia, T-bone or side-impact accidents increased 20%. Increased is the opposite of decreased, Dan. Rear-enders went up 42%. That’s not slight, Dan. Injury accidents increased 18%. Injury accidents are the worst kind, Dan. Total accidents went up 29%. So why are you trying to con the public about this, Dan?
As mentioned in a previous post, Fairfax numbers are problematic because a complete set of “before” accident data is not available. Still, no possible interpretation of Fairfax numbers shows any statistically significant benefit from the use of cameras. A look at some real-life red light camera crashes may also help to expose the magnitude of Dan’s lie:
“A red light camera in Kingsport, Tennessee caused a dump truck to overturn in a massive multicar accident on Wednesday that snarled traffic for hours… The incident was sparked by a vehicle that stopped short at the intersection, presumably to avoid a red light camera citation. According to the Times-News, this surprised Thomas Aaron Johnson, 29, who was following behind in a black 2001 Pontiac Grand Am. To avoid slamming into the car that had suddenly stopped, Johnson swerved into the right-hand lane, side-swiping a 1985 Mack DM6 dump truck driven by Larry Kent Simmons, 56. Simmons himself swerved, hit a third car, overturned and sent his load of dirt all over the road and on top of a parked car.” Full Story.
Or look at this one:
“A red light camera in Kingsport, Tennessee caused an accident yesterday that transformed a Honda sedan into an unrecognizable mass of twisted steel. Rescue crews employed the jaws of life to save the victims, two of whom were sent to the hospital where at least one is listed in critical condition…. The incident took place at the intersection of Clinchfield Street and Stone Drive where, last year, Kingsport installed a red light camera. The city hoped that the fear of receiving a ticket would change drivers’ reactions to the traffic signal. In this case, the driver of a blue Honda reacted by stopping short at a yellow light to avoid that ticket. The 18-wheeler behind, however, could not match the smaller car’s braking ability and slammed into the Honda. Kingsport Police Deputy Chief David Quillin told the Times-News last month that he knew accidents like this would happen, but he downplayed their importance.” Full Story.
Of course, there are always be those who say on the one hand that cameras are responsible for decreases in accidents, but “it’s not the camera’s fault” when a car is rear-ended. They throw in the platitude that “it’s not like the camera comes down off the pole and kills anyone.” Well, actually, that HAS happened. Full Story.
Give Dan a call at (703) 218-4090 or an email at email@example.com to let him know what you think.