Why is Fairfax Lying About Red Light Cameras?

February 5, 2009

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:

Fairfax Councilman Dan Drummond

Fairfax Councilman Dan Drummond

“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:

Minor fender-bender

Minor fender-bender

“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:

Dan doesn't think this is serious

Dan doesn't think this is serious

“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.

Cameras kill

Cameras kill

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 ddrummond@fairfaxva.gov to let him know what you think.

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More Speed Cameras Coming to Maryland

February 1, 2009

The first speed camera bills of 2009 have officially been introduced to the Maryland General Assembly.

Senate Bill 277 and House Bill 313 have been submitted to the MD state Senate and House of Delegates, at the request of Governor O’Malley. This bill is based on the legislation which came within a hair of enactment in 2008. It would authorize every county in the state to use speed cameras on roads up to a 45mph speed limit, and also on highways in temporary “work zones”.

These bills still included the following change from existing law which legislators attempted to pass in 2008:

(6) “Speed monitoring system operator” means [an individual who] A REPRESENTATIVE OF AN AGENCY OR CONTRACTOR THAT operates a speed monitoring system.

This change would have grandfather in the alleged loophole which Montgomery County has attempted to use to defend their Illegal contract, and also deny the accused the right to request the REAL operator to appear in court, by allowing the counties to specify any person they want as the operator regardless of whether they perform any physical work on the device.

In addition, local bills have been submitted to the House and Senate under the labels HB0396 and sb0388 on behalf of the Baltimore local govt. That local bills would give Baltimore the ability to set up speed cameras, however anyone who visits Baltimore is affected by this.

Two other speed camera bills which would authorize cameras in Prince George’s County (PG 309-09) and Howard County (Ho.Co. 06-09) have been drafted and will be submitted soon.

If you disagree with the expansion of scameras in Maryland, please get involved. Find out who’s responsible for these bills, with contact information, after the jump.

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