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JAMES SAUNDERS: Studies show cameras reduce red-light running

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There are a number of misconceptions about automated enforcement. I’m writing today to correct a few of the misconceptions contained in a recent Rio Rancho Observer opinion piece.

Let’s start with the statements made about Redflex Traffic System’s ethics.

As it stands today, Redflex demonstrates the highest level of transparency and leads the photo enforcement industry in compliance practice and procedures. We are proud of the efforts we have taken, and we continue to encourage our industry to follow our lead. We have communicated accurately and repeatedly on the misconduct of a few former Redflex executives.

We invite our customers, competitors and the general public to compare our remediation actions with those of other companies who have faced similar situations. Our actions have been appropriate and extraordinary. We are a company of over 300 individuals, all committed to making a lifesaving difference in our partnering communities.

James Saunders.

James Saunders.

Best type of partnership

Redflex is the best type of public/private partnership. We do what municipalities are required to do, enforce the safety of their intersections and roadways, but we do it 24/7 and more efficiently than cities can for themselves.

In 2011, Rio Rancho instituted the Safe Traffic Operations Program (STOP) to protect your community from reckless drivers. Red-light running isn’t a petty nuisance. It’s a serious crime with potentially deadly consequences.

A study conducted by the City of Rio Rancho found the red-light cameras had a positive safety impact at the intersections where they were installed. From 2011 to 2013, crashes at Unser and Northern declined 12 percent, and crashes at Unser and Southern decreased about 4 percent. Historically, these downward trends continue the longer a photo enforcement program is active.

The Rio Rancho collision figures support what other national and local studies have concluded — safety cameras are effective at curbing red-light running. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted the most comprehensive study of its kind in 2011 assessing the safety impact of red-light cameras. It found a 24 percent reduction in fatalities across 14 U.S. cities. Had similar programs been operating in all large cities during the evaluation period, 815 deaths could have been prevented.

Other advantages

Other advantages of red-light cameras receive less publicity, but are important nonetheless. For starters, they serve as “force multipliers,” enabling local law enforcement to free up personnel for other high-priority tasks while ensuring problematic intersections are monitored and enforced. Red-light cameras also help prevent crashes that cause traffic delays and require police, fire and EMT resources.

Voluntary program

Finally, it’s important to remember that automated enforcement is a voluntary program. Anyone can opt out by simply obeying the law. Cameras serve as a powerful, effective deterrent. Their presence helps protect you, your passengers and all pedestrians who leave their home each day with the expectation that they’ll return safely.

There will always be a vocal minority that believes its right to drive recklessly is more important than your right to public safety.

We should not let a crucial public safety tool be marginalized by the misconceptions of a few.

(James Saunders is president and chief executive officer of Redflex Traffic Systems Inc.)

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