1/7/2011Colorado: Accident Data Ignored in Red Light Camera Expansion
Aurora, Colorado wants more red light cameras despite lack of demonstrable safety benefit.
Local activists are upset that Aurora, Colorado is doubling the size of its red light camera program even though the existing devices have failed to produce a demonstrable safety benefit. According to the public statements of officials, however, the sole motivation for the change is accident reduction.
"The city has approved plans to expand the system to cover ten additional intersections for the purpose of reducing the number and seriousness of accidents and injuries at additional intersections," the police department's annual report explained.
That reduction has never happened, according to official data obtained by the group Citizens for Responsible Aurora Government (CRAG) under a freedom of information request. The city admitted accidents increased at three of the four intersections monitored by red light cameras. All together, 168 accidents were recorded a year before installation and 169 documented a year after ticketing commenced.
"Since the total combined number of accidents has remained almost identical at the combined red light camera intersections, it appears the city's main objective is to generate an ongoing, increased revenue stream for the city budget," CRAG leader Jim Frye wrote. "The 'collection machine' that will be in place with the new contract, should ensure the city with a bounty of fines from it residents."
The existing program has allowed the private company Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) to issue 43,431 tickets worth $3,257,325. Documents suggest that boosting this figure may have been on the minds of the officials directing the expansion.
"The selection committee notes improved technology of the proposed new systems provides the capability of capturing an increased number of photo red light violations, which could increase the anticipated monthly city surcharge revenues and net profit from these systems," a city memo dated January 22, 2010 stated.
CRAG activists hope to pressure Aurora into dropping the automated ticketing machines.
"With other cities removing their red light cameras, Aurora ought to discontinue this program and this ongoing process of trying to extract more money from its voters," Frye wrote.
A copy of the city's summary data is available in a 25k PDF file in the source link below.