Drivers adapt to red-light cameras | Courier-Post |

The Panopticon changes behavior:

TRENTON — A pilot program for red-light cameras in New Jersey appears to be changing drivers’ behavior, state officials said Monday, noting an overall decline in traffic citations and right-angle crashes.

The Department of Transportation also said, however, that rear-end crashes have risen by 20 percent and total crashes are up by 0.9 percent at intersections where cameras have operated for at least a year.

via Drivers adapt to red-light cameras | Courier-Post |


10 thoughts on “Drivers adapt to red-light cameras | Courier-Post |

  1. I have mixed feelings about red light cameras and this article pretty much shows my reasons why. On one hand you have people being conscious about how they are driving because they know they are being watched and might abide by the rules more. On the other hand, you have people that might become nervous because they are being watched and might try to correct their driving too much and cause an accident. It can also be another way for states to make money from minor traffic violations.

  2. I think red light cameras are mostly a good thing. When the technology works, it saves the city money on traffic enforcement, and also keeps the human element out of it. Police officers are notorious for profiling drivers based on Age/Gender/Race and a camera has no bias. It also corrects for any officer error (did the driver really run the red or was it just yellow?). As far as being watched, why do cameras have to take a visual picture of the driver? Couldn’t they be aimed so as to only capture the license plate and not have any images of people stored. For anyone concerned with having their picture taken, all they have to do is abide by traffic laws. This is not like other forms of surveillance where there is no way to avoid being photographed, so follow the rules of the road and you can remain anonymous.

  3. Contrary to one of the above statements, I don’t think the red light cameras are installed with the motivation of making money. I think the Dep of Transportation is very aware of the principle of the observer effect, and is simply trying to change driving behavior by letting drivers know they’re being observed. After all, the article states that minor traffic citations are down, not up. Still, that’s not to say that the cameras are overall beneficial. While the Department found fewer right-angle crashes, the article states the study isn’t necessarily definitive. Furthermore, rear-end accidents and accidents in general seem to be more common, and accident costs have risen dramatically as well at these intersections. Either way, the effect of known observation is evident here, whether it is beneficial or in fact detrimental to traffic.

  4. I agree with the above statement. I had the chance of working in claims at an insurance agency this summer. After looking at a lot of claims data, I saw numerous accounts of people being rear-ended at these traffic lights that have red light cameras. People are being overly-cautious around these lights in fear of the camera capturing them accidentally running a red light which, in turn, will cause an increase in these types of accidents. While I can see the benefit, I disagree that these are actually benefiting drivers. It really just motivates people to be careful with their driving habits based on the fear of a way-too-expensive ticket and entertaining video of how they messed up as well. Maybe a system can be reinvented that doesn’t motivate people to be good drivers based on internal drivers like greed.

  5. I have learned through this class and in organizational informatics that individuals being observed always act in a different manner. If people know that they are being watched, they will be critical of their actions. Like others have said, some people may end up nervous. Many times, it is safer for cars to go through a yellow light than abruptly slam on their brakes at a time when they don’t necessarily need to stop.

    Through personal experience, I have rear ended someone who slammed on her brakes at a yellow light during a storm. It is much more dangerous for an individual to stop like this and put the people behind them in danger than to be worried about having to pay for a ticket when rolling through a red light a tenth of a second after it turns red.

  6. I agree with Jordan, this is a lot like the panopticon example. I feel that a good way to avoid the increase in rear end accidents would be to make the cameras more discreet. That way good drivers will drive normally through the stoplight and repeat offenders will be more careful from that point forward knowing the camera is there.

  7. Like a few of the other posts above, I too agree that red-light cameras have their benefits but also have a few downfalls as well. I liked the idea of the red-light cameras, but now that they have been implemented in a few intersections, I am not sure how I feel about them. Creating this panopticon-like situation where you feel as if you are always being watched, does cause drivers to be a little more on edge behind the wheel. In some situations you have to make a judgement call on whether you should go through the yellow-light or slam on your brakes to get stopped in time. With the cameras, the possibility of getting caught going through the red light results in you always choosing to slam on your brakes to avoid a potential citation. This in return increases the amount of rear-end crashes that happen at these intersections. At the same time, it does make drivers a little more cautious when driving. Having more cautious drivers is not a bad thing. It might make drivers take a minute, slow down, and ultimately drive more cautiously. This would make the roads safer and potentially less accidents would occur.

  8. I think the best idea in this situation would be to hide the cameras in a more discrete manner. That way, people that have been caught in the past will know where the cameras are and can adjust their style of driving. At the same time, people who do not know the cameras are there can drive their normal way of driving and not be paranoid about what is around them. There are valid arguments for and against red light cameras, and in my opinion, I think they can do more good than harm. As Cory mentioned, having more cautious drivers is not a bad thing. Over time, I think we will see a positive trend with less accidents due to implementing red light cameras.

  9. I think the red-light cameras have its own benefits but it also changes drivers’ behaviors. Here comes a situation where the traffic light turns from green to yellow, and the driver knows there is a red-light camera there, he suddenly pushes on the brakes but the car behind thinks they will all go through the intersection. Then the car behind did not react fast enough, and this is how the rear-end crash happened, especially in the raining day. The red-light cameras do reduced the probability that the driver will still speed up during the yellow light to cross the intersection but they also increased the possibility the rear-end crash happens. Overall, I think it is beneficial to have red-light cameras because it is like a warning for the drivers to make them drive with cations.

  10. I also have mixed feelings about the red light cameras. I think they can be for the better even though they have increased the accident rate, because I feel the rear-end craches are less severe caused by the cameras. These rear-end crashes are usually just bumper to bumper fender benders with very little severe injury. On the other hand, the right angle accidents that could happen without the cameras could be more severe and injury prone. That is why I have mixed feelings. Yes, these cameras have increased the rate of accidents, but they are far less severe. I can see the advantages to keeping these cameras in tact. I am sure they save lives everyday accross America.

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