Thursday, July 28, 2011

Do Speed and Red Light Cameras Increase Accidents?

most interesting man.jpgI don't drive to Towson often and when I do I usually use I-83 (sounds like a commercial for the most uninteresting man in the world). I heard about the speed camera in place around Liberty Road but I had not experienced it first hand until yesterday. Seeing it in action has inspired me. Let me start by stating that, as a Maryland criminal defense attorney, I have a general disdain for red light cameras and speed cameras. I think that they are unsafe and lower the standard of proof needed by the state to convict a defendant for a traffic violation. The speed camera at Liberty Road further supports my opinion. On its best day the I-695 corridor at Liberty Road is an area where traffic slows. More often than not, that section of road is a bottleneck causing epic rush hour traffic jams. Now there is construction going on at the exit for Liberty Road (slower speed in a construction zone is probably the rational for placing a mobile speed camera there). So we have a stretch of road notorious for traffic jams. Now add construction and a speed camera. This combination creates rush hour traffic jams in the middle of the day. The pace of traffic suddenly slows by 20mph because drivers don't want to get a ticket. The sudden decrease in speed and congestion creates dangerous driving conditions. Portner & Shure handles auto accident cases throughout Baltimore County and recently we have been contacted by numerous clients injured in rear end collisions at this very location.

What is the real motivation behind the mobile speed cameras and red light cameras? Is it safety? Does it decrease accidents caused by drinking and driving. Money? I think that there would be less accidents and congestion at the Liberty Road exit if the mobile speed camera was removed. The speed camera's flashing lights surprise people. I would not be surprised at all if the flashing lights from a speed camera caused apprehension in drivers and resulted in accidents. Ironically, that is exactly what one would expect to happen with young drivers. Percentage wise, younger drivers are involved in more serious accidents than experienced drivers. Red light cameras can have the same effect. Imagine if a driver was traveling on a road with a 35mph speed limit at an intersection he or she knows has a red light camera. What happens if, as this driver approaches the intersection, the light suddenly turns yellow? In most instances the driver would proceed through the yellow light and doing so would be both safe and lawful. However, the apprehension associated with getting a red light ticket may cause the driver to come to a sudden stop. This reaction is unsafe to other drivers and could lead to an automobile accident. I am not the only one with this opinion. Many people are opponents of speed cameras and red light cameras. Unfortunately, the State of Maryland needs revenue and the cameras provide it.