Stop Making Sense! Real Red Light Running Solutions

Kaye Beach

June 6, 2009

Have You Hugged an Engineer Today?

Public Safety Perspective vs. Revenue Enhancement Schemes

Photo enforcement is a scam.  If you say otherwise, then you;

A) don’t have the facts

B) Benefit from RED’s (Revenue Enhancement Devices)


C) Have Stockholm Syndrome

Exerpts from testimony by Chad Dornsife of the National Motorists Association
in August 28, 2001 before the CA Senate

“What has been lost in the public uproar and debate is the basic fact that for a red light camera or a photo radar speed enforcement system to be viable, there must be an underlying traffic safety engineering deficiency. At every location that we have examined to date, without exception, this has been the case. ”

The compliance situation was summarized in a Highway Research Board paper presented by Burton Marsh in 1930

“The status of traffic law observance in any community is definitely related to a number of … factors. Important among these factors are:2. Effective and sensible signs, signals and markings, wisely used.

Burton Marsh in 1930 lays out these fundamentals in relation to compliance, speaking in DC “Law Observance and Enforcement methods” at the Highway Research Board Proceedings.

1. Reasonableness of traffic rules and regulations. It is well known that good observance can only be expected for regulations which are generally deemed sensible, necessary and reasonable. They should also be as simple and as few in number as possible. The Uniform Vehicle Code and the Model Traffic Ordinance constitute valuable guides to states and municipalities in setting up reasonable regulations.

3. Adequate public understanding and appreciation of traffic regulations, of the reasons for them, of the results to be accomplished, and of methods of proper observance.

4. Uniform, impartial and business-like enforcement.

He further states;

” To enforce traffic laws is to compel obedience of them.”


“The fact that so much compulsion seems necessary is a clear indication of serious deficiency in one or more of the first three factors presented above. Thus, although enforcement should only be necessary for a small perverse minority, it is all too much invoked for large proportions … The really needed steps to reduce violations are the effective promulgation of reasonable regulations and the education of the public as to the saneness, necessity and value of them and as to how the individual is expected to act in compliance with the said laws.”

According to engineers the golden rule of traffic control is what they call  the 85% rule-it is rule of thumb derived from observation of human behavior in traffic/roadway situations;

Since most citizens can be relied upon to behave in a reasonable manner as they go about their daily activities, many of our laws reflect observations of the way reasonable people behave under most circumstances. “

I believe that at least 85% of motorists do Not, in fact, want to die.  These engineers are sharp!

“Traffic regulations are invariably based upon observations of the behavior of groups of travelers under various conditions.”

Invariably-until $$ enters the picture.   to quote the brilliant Cindy Lauper- “Money. Money changes everything”

“Generally speaking, traffic laws that reflect the behavior of the majority of vehicle operators are found to be successful, while laws that arbitrarily restrict the majority of drivers encourage wholesale violations, lack public support, and usually fail to bring about desirable changes in driving behavior.” Source “Establishing Speed Limits – A Case of “Majority Rule”

. . . And also bring Cha Ching! to the coffers of the cities and photo enforcement companies.

Simple, Sane and SAFE. This is the wisdom that has guided traffic engineering from the start.  

Do we really think that the “peverse minority”  has all of a sudden increased?  If so, we are really in trouble! 

That means that the number of people who are too stupid to live has increased which does not bode well for the future of mankind.  In recent years these principles have been subject to some questionable “engineering” that places profit over safety. If you really want to know if Photo Enforcement is a sham-just ask a traffic engineer-an OLD traffic engineer.

Read this; California Senate Hearing Testimony

Chad Dornsife sums up the problem;

Rather than championing best practices and staying true to their charter that only vetted best practice be applied, the FHWA HOTO office routinely allows and or adopts unsafe engineering practices to placate political agendas. In regards to signalized intersections, the situation is further exacerbated by the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ (ITE) adoption of deviant “guidance” for signal timings. Red light cameras are a manifestation of this failure, both the FHWA and the ITE have abandoned best practice to facilitate special interest, those whom profit or derive power and or jobs from these related enterprises, to the clear detriment of safety.

Dick Armey commissioned a study in 2001 that reveals the truth about the situation;

The Red-Light Running Crisis: Is It Intentional?
Office of the Majority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives

Study quotes;

“And one should ask the question, if there’s a problem with an intersection, why don’t safety engineers in the field just go out and fix the timing?

In fact, before red light cameras arrived in the United States, that’s exactly what our regulations instructed them to do. If too many people enter on red at an intersection, engineers were supposed to lengthen its yellow time. But in the year that red light cameras first started collecting millions in revenue on our shores, those entrusted with developing our traffic safety regulations dropped the requirement to fix signal timing, instructing engineers to “use enforcement” instead. (Emphasis mine)

[. . .]Every study claiming red light cameras increase safety is written by the same man. Before joining the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), he was a top transportation official in New York City at the time the city began looking into becoming the first jurisdiction in the country to install red light cameras. In other words, the father of the red light camera in America is the same individual offering the “objective” testimony that they are effective.

[. . . ]A similar conflict of interest affects those entrusted with writing safety regulations for our traffic lights. The Institute of Transportation Engineers is actively involved in lobbying for, and even drafting legislation to implement, red light cameras. They are closely tied to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which in turn is funded by companies that stand to profit handsomely any time points are assessed to a driver’s license.

In short, the only documented benefit to red light cameras is to the pocketbook of local governments who use the devices to collect millions in revenue.”

PDF of Dick Armey’s requested study

Also, take a look at this site-

NOTE: I am not an engineer, nor do I have any special expertise on this subject matter.  I can only read what the experts write and compare it to my personal observations.  If I am drawing the wrong conclusion and you can provide some facts to prove it, please do! But, if you just want to drop in to inform me that I am wrong but cannot be bothered to provide any sort of factual correction or if you critique and you haven’t read the material provided -I won’t bother to post or respond to your comments.  I put too much time into doing my research to be sidetracked by kamikaze criticizers.


Relevant posts-  Campaign Funding from Scameras…ampaigns-in-az/


One response to “Stop Making Sense! Real Red Light Running Solutions

  1. Pingback: Mr. Chad Dornsife Defends “Motorists Rights” « Radio Free Oklahoma Blog

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