Speed cameras: Should we use them?

Most of us are aware that cameras are used throughout the nation – mostly in larger cities – to reduce red-light running. In fact, more than 500 communities currently use red-light cameras.

Speed cameras have been catching on in the U.S. as well, though they aren’t as widespread as red light cameras. A total of 129 communities operate speed camera programs in the U.S., according to information from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Although automated enforcement is often considered controversial, thanks to a vocal minority who oppose it, surveys show support for the programs. A recent IIHS survey of residents in Washington, D.C. found that three-quarters support speed cameras, and nearly 9 in 10 support red light cameras.

Information from the August, 2013, edition of the IIHS’s “Status Report” had an interesting article about the increased use of cameras for speed control in France.

France began blanketing the nation’s road network with speed cameras after then-President Jacques Chirac declared a “fight against road violence,” and the program has grown steadily since then. By 2010, France had more than 2,750 cameras in use for speed control. About two-thirds of the cameras are in fixed locations and are accompanied by warning signs. The rest are mobile.

The study of France’s speed camera program found that the July 2002 announcement of the initiative, which was widely covered in the media and included not only the introduction of cameras but also increased penalties for traffic violations and the creation of new traffic offenses, was associated with a 12 percent drop in the fatality rate. When the cameras became operational, there was an additional reduction of 10 percent, and that effect persisted over time. This is extremely significant in the effort to reduce speeding in general and speed-related crashes, injuries, and fatalities.

The interesting thing to me is that most every driver complains about other drivers speeding, and how dangerous it is that they do so. Yet, I haven’t met a driver yet, including myself, that doesn’t speed sometimes.

So, now that you have read about the very successful use of speed cameras in France, and how it has significantly reduced fatalities, injuries and speeding in general, do you think we in the U.S. should increase the utilization of this safety tool or do you believe this would be an excessive use of enforcement? Give me a quick email at dwerner151@verizon.net with your opinion. If I receive enough responses, I’ll reveal the results in a future “Did You Know” article.

For more articles on traffic law and safety, go to the traffic safety board’s website at: www.franklincony.org and click on “Traffic Safety Board” under departments then look for Did You Know articles under “services.”