When the Number of Crashes Goes Down, We'll Know We Have a Problem

A Washington Post analysis finds that the number of collisions at D.C. intersections goes up after red-light cameras are installed, to which D.C. Police Chief Ramsey responds, "Yes, exactly!":

D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said he remains convinced that the devices are worthwhile. Even if the number of crashes is not going down, he said, citations for red-light running have dropped by about 60 percent at intersections that have cameras.

Ramsey said the number of accidents would be even higher without the cameras, adding that he would like to install them at every traffic light in the city.

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  • ||

    "citations for red-light running have dropped by about 60 percent at intersections that have cameras."

    So, is this fool Ramsey trying to raise revenue, or shoot himself in the foot?

    Abolish red-lights! (and stop-signs)
    Full speed ahead!

  • ||

    Not all accidents are created equal. A straight-on rear ender (ooh baby), with both cars travelling in the same direction (and thus, their speeds being subtracted from each other) will result in far less damage and injury than a car travelling through a red light and hitting another car on the side.

    I'd be more interested in the stats on personal injuries at red light intersections. But then, I find this stuff interesting even without a political angle.

  • ||

    I agree, joe. I'd be interested to see an assessment of severity of accidents with the cameras, in addition to a mere total count.

  • alkali||

    A Washington Post analysis finds that the number of collisions at D.C. intersections goes up after red-light cameras are installed ...

    Is there any explanation for why this is happening? What am I missing here?

  • ||

    I'm having some bumper stickers printed up that say:
    RED-LIGHTS RULE!
    ...wait

    Anybody interested in buying some?

  • ||

    The way to solve problems like this is to change the laws, so that people who break traffic rules don't pay fines but either do community service or make a set donation to an approved charity; i.e., make sure the cops and cities aren't made wealthier by traffic scofflaws.

  • ||

    I'd also be interested in the long-term trends for these intersections. Was there, perhaps, already an increasing trend in number of accidents before the cameras were installed?

    Lots of variables to consider in evaluating these things...not the least of which might be statistical flukes. The study (as it's reported, anyway) shouldn't form the sole basis for decision-making.

  • MP||

    Is there any explanation for why this is happening? What am I missing here?

    People who might normally try to squeeze through the light at the last second change with the presence of cameras such that they come to a sudden stop to avoid a ticket. This results in an increased amount of rear-enders.

    As joe alludes to, the trade-off between an increased aggregate count but a decrease in t-bones may make this a non-issue.

  • ||

    stupid comments coming out of dc, is anyone really suprised? this is the city where bad news means your programs are working! "students are failing out of schools" - Our public schools are working! "Insurgents are making more deadly attacks" - they are just getting desparate!

    lol

  • R C Dean||

    So crashes go up after the cameras are installed, and this tool says they would have gone up even faster without the cameras? Based on what?

    Oh, his institutional need to defend surveillance technology. Got it.

  • ||

    I would also like to see the statistics over time - as in, over a couple years. I would predict a short spike for a few weeks immediately after the cameras are installed, followed by a return to the norm, as people get used to "the new normal" of how to behave when the light turns yellow.

  • ||

    Most of you are missing the point that red-lights don't increase safety nor expedite traffic flow.
    They are simply a way for a bureaucrat to hang a permanent reminder that says, "I'm Chevy Chase, and you're not."

  • ||

    Seems like there's a dearth of information about what kind of accidents. I mean, at the same time one could argue that there's more people trying to beat the light and getting t-boned. Ditto for items on the sample size. Anytime someone uses the authority of statistics without presenting the parameters of the sampling it rings alarm bells in my head.

    I also like Jennifer's idea of having the offender spend time instead of money. It's a lot easier for people to write a check, even for an absurd amount, than it is to spend an afternoon at a homeless shelter or habitat for humanity. It also makes the math not make sense -- shaving a few seconds waiting at a stoplight is worth it over having to spend a few hours doing something else, like picking up roadside garbage.

  • ||

    That story has some real apples-to-oranges problems.

    Comparing accident rates at lights with cameras, to those at lights without cameras, is only valid if the two sets of intersections are otherwise similar. But they're not - intersections with cameras are those that have been singled out as needing them.

    The analysis of rates over six years means that rates from intersections with six year old cameras - intersections at which drivers have gotten used to the cameras - are being combined with data from intersections with new cameras.

    Overall accident rates aren't normalized for the increase in traffic over the six year period.

  • ||

    Ruthless, traffic lights both increase safety and improve traffic flow, when used properly.

    I know this because I'm joe, and you're not.

  • ||

    Erm, traffic lights don't increase safety and/or improve traffic flow?

    I've never heard anyone claim this before. What's the basis for this claim?

  • ||

    The only way to use red-lights properly is to melt them down for scrap.
    Could another expert besides joe help me out here?

  • MP||

    Ruthless,

    I'm no expert, but I remember reading this article last year. It was the first time I'd read a contrarian view to traffic lights. I don't agree with all the points raised, but it was the first time I'd ever invested any real thought to the issue.

  • ||

    MP

    thanks for link

    Ruthless

    thanks for bringing it up

    ...interesting...

  • ||

    "The way to solve problems like this is to change the laws, so that people who break traffic rules don't pay fines but either do community service or make a set donation to an approved charity; i.e., make sure the cops and cities aren't made wealthier by traffic scofflaws."

    Comment by: Jennifer at October 4, 2005 11:11 AM


    [golf clap]

  • The Anti-Puritan||

    Ruthless:
    I'm having some bumper stickers printed up that say:
    RED-LIGHTS RULE!
    ...wait

    Anybody interested in buying some?

    I'll take a dozen. I think there should be more red-light districts.

  • ||

    MP,

    I'm not sure if I should waste my time reading that article, after reading the first few paragraphs. The author mentions conditions "in the beginning", as if it's possible to compare a few Model T's going 15 or 20 MPH to hordes of modern vehicles doing 60 or more.

  • ||

    "Oh, his institutional need to defend surveillance technology. Got it."

    Exactly RC. And I'm sure the extra revenue they bring in is a nice bonus as well.

  • ||

    Being a red-light denier is a heavy burden... heavier than being an AIDS denier.

  • ||

    Do not look to ITE. I cannot imagine any competent traffic engineer would suggest that removing all traffic controls would improve system performance. Uncontrolled intersections are less efficient, a fact that can be demonstrated by field observation, computer modeling and reams of engineering data. Traffic controls are normally installed based on an engineering study. We have learned that proper controls can improve intersection safety and reduce congestion. In fact, in many cases accident data lead to consideration and installation of controls.

    A red light camera is a law enforcement tool, not a traffic control. Traffic controls work. This is why every modern society with public roads uses them. The burden of denying red lights is indeed heavy... much like the burden of flat earthers. This simply are no data to support your position.

  • ||

    It's an interesting article. Rhywun's point, that people driving at even moderate speeds can't interact and safely self-control like people walking towards each other, or even travelling at walking-horse speed, is well taken.

    Roundabouts are neat, but they take up lots of land. Ruthless, are you willing to trade those traffic lights for a whole lotta takings? Also, traffic circles lock up at a certain volume.

    Here's a question for the libertoids: if traffic control via lights and signage was phased out in favor of traffic calming (rebuilding the road in such a way that you can't comfortably go over 15-20 mph) and law-of-forebearance intersections, would that be a net gain or loss of liberty?

  • ||

    Interesting article (the one on traffic lights and safety), but it strikes me as somewhere between naive and brain-dead to assume American drivers can puzzle out roundabouts.

  • ||

    all interesting...and probably largely academic...points

    The article refers to an experiment done in the Netherlands near the end. Sounds like it should be worth watching long-term.

    Of course, as I'm sure joe can attest, one problem we always have when it comes to planning cities and roads (or not planning them, however you want to approach this) is that we can't start from scratch (well, hardly ever anyway).

    I've often heard the criticism that Manhattan's famous grid pattern is really a poor idea (it's aesthetically boring; it favors traffic in one direction; it causes congestion; and on and on). But, assuming this critique is accurate, what can you do about it? We're stuck with it now. Similarly, what about roundabouts? I love them, but I'm not going to hold my breath for them to come to North America.

  • ||

    Number 6,
    It's all in the getting used to.
    Same as getting used to intersection cameras.

  • ||

    That article was idiotic (except for the bit about roundabouts). Four-way stops perform better than traffic lights?? Anyone who has seen traffic backed up at an intersection with broken signals - as it always does - can disprove that one. "Many fast drivers are reluctant to stop at crosswalks for fear of getting rear-ended." Huh?? I have *never* seen a crosswalk that is not accompanied by a stop sign or a traffic light. Pedestrians are killed by drivers who *ignore* traffic control measures.

  • theOneState||

    I'm puzzled about this...citations have gone DOWN where red-light cameras have been installed? Don't the cameras work longer hours and...um...send out lots of tickets?

    Violations may go down, but citations?

  • ||

    Shoot, Number 6, I've seen roundabouts work in Florida, of all places. No worries.

  • ||

    That article was idiotic (except for the bit about roundabouts). Four-way stops perform better than traffic lights?? Anyone who has seen traffic backed up at an intersection with broken signals - as it always does - can disprove that one. "Many fast drivers are reluctant to stop at crosswalks for fear of getting rear-ended." Huh?? I have *never* seen a crosswalk that is not accompanied by a stop sign or a traffic light. Pedestrians are killed by drivers who *ignore* traffic control measures.

  • MP||

    but it strikes me as somewhere between naive and brain-dead to assume American drivers can puzzle out roundabouts.

    You must not be from New England.

  • ||

    correction:

    I'm not holding my breath for roundabouts to come to N. America on a large, continent-wide scale. I have seen them here. They do exist, and work pretty well from my POV, and in some surprising locales.

  • ||

    What is truly idiotic is to presume that Americans are willing to drive 30 kph. People exceed this speed in the McDonald's drive through lane.

  • ||

    There are numerous four-way stops between where I work and the Interstate, and they're absolute nightmares. I would LOVE to see them replaced by traffic lights. There's this one spot of road where I drive to get home each day, and it's an average of ten minute's worth of backup for an intersection with maybe two dozen cars going through.

  • ||

    Rhwyun, at a lot of intersections, four way stops would be more efficient. It's only when you get to a certain level of volume than traffic lights improve efficiency. And there is no way a stop sign would work when the roads have more than one lane in each direction.

    But, yeah, if drivers are unwilling to stop at a crosswalk for fear of getting rear-ended, what does that say about an un-regulated intersection?

    theOneState, the number of tickets issued by the cameras has gone done over time. It's not a comparison of pre- and post-camera.

  • theOneState||

    Rhywun, don't know where you live or travel, but there are crosswalks w/o stop signs or stop lights all over the place.

  • ||

    at a lot of intersections, four way stops would be more efficient. It's only when you get to a certain level of volume than traffic lights improve efficiency

    Sure, but this guy seems to be advocating replacing existing traffic lights with 4-way stops, which sounds a bit deranged to me.

    In my driving days (I absolutely despise driving, and don't do it now that I live in NYC) I did not find it terribly difficult to refrain from rear-ending other cars at traffic lights. I think the majority of accidents are caused by incompetence, plain and simple.

  • ||

    Four way stops provide the same idiocy as red lights- even if no one is coming, you still have to stop. But at least you don't have to wait. I have just moved to a place that positively has a *fetish* with 4-way stops. It drives me nuts, having to stop every two blocks. I'm a big roundabout fan, and I've seen them put in in pretty small intersections on residential blocks- they don't have to be big beasts. They have all the advantages I'm looking for- the amount you have to slow down or stop is in direct proportion to the amount of traffic, and if there is no traffic, then you don't have to stop at all! Yay! Everybody wins!

  • ||

    Here's a question for the libertoids: if traffic control via lights and signage was phased out in favor of traffic calming (rebuilding the road in such a way that you can't comfortably go over 15-20 mph) and law-of-forebearance intersections, would that be a net gain or loss of liberty?

    1. Law for roads? wouldn't that imply some kind of gov't meddling in the building and administration of roads?

    2. When road decisions are decentralized, there won't just be two options -- private creativity, finally inleashed after centuries of statist oppression will, in the fullness of time, suggest a solution better than either one you mention.

    3. therefore, the answer is: its a wash in the grandscheme of libertoidliness.

  • ||

    there are crosswalks w/o stop signs or stop lights all over the place.

    I've lived all over New York State, and I've never seen it. Anyway, it strikes me as a particularly stupid design. Many drivers can't seem to be bothered with stopping for pedestrians who are protected by stop signs or traffic lights - expecting them to stop at two skinny little white lines painted on the road is placing a bit too much trust in the driver, I think.

  • ||

    Here's a question for the libertoids: if traffic control via lights and signage was phased out in favor of traffic calming (rebuilding the road in such a way that you can't comfortably go over 15-20 mph) and law-of-forebearance intersections, would that be a net gain or loss of liberty?

    Dunno. What do you do about people willing to drive uncomfortably in order to exceed the built-in speed limit?

  • ||

    in favor of traffic calming (rebuilding the road in such a way that you can't comfortably go over 15-20 mph)

    *Please* tell me this doesn't involve intentionally ruining the road, i.e. speedbumps. I *hate* speedbumps. They punish the law-abiders as well as speeders. It's still uncomfortable to go over them even at the posted speed limit.

  • ||

    Many drivers can't seem to be bothered with stopping for pedestrians who are protected by stop signs or traffic lights - expecting them to stop at two skinny little white lines painted on the road is placing a bit too much trust in the driver, I think.

    This is one of the more difficult driving adjustments I had to make in moving to Ontario Canada. They put I lot of signage (three black X's) up over the unregulated crosswalks, but I only ever see those things if I know about their location beforehand. I never notice them when I am driving in a new neighborhood, even though I try. So far I haven't hit anybody, but it does make driving more stressful.

  • ||

    DC is an alternative universe. Any attempt to understand it from the point of view of what we think of as normal physics is doomed to failure.

  • ||

    I've lived all over New York State

    What do you think of the Johnson City traffic circle?

    (Site of my only auto accident -- looking left for my gap, I rearended the car in front of me, softly. I was back there in May. After avoiding all the Sunday morning speed traps on the Parkway, and being followed by a police car on the Parkway for quite a distance, I emerged from Church an hour later to see the aftermath of a horrible accident on "The Circle," which was unpatrolled despite complicated traffic patterns and signage due to ongoing construction there. These aren't the only accidents I recall at "The Circle," but suffice it to say that I believe The Circle is bad and has been bad for a long time now. When I can, I drive to Endicott and cross the river there.)

  • ||

    Four way stops provide the same idiocy as red lights- even if no one is coming, you still have to stop.

    I'd be all for traffic lights that detected incoming traffic at range (not merely stopped traffic, though those are nice, to) and reacted appropriately.

    It's the lights on simple cycles that are annoying at off-peak times when you're on the smaller road at its intersection with a larger one. Look left, look right, see nobody else...wait.

    Longer yellows are also nice - in that whenever places shorten yellow lights, they get more collisions. But they do get more tickets, so...

  • R C Dean||

    in favor of traffic calming (rebuilding the road in such a way that you can't comfortably go over 15-20 mph)

    That would be speed bumps, which amount to state-funded vandalism of your car.

    "traffic calming" has my nomination for euphemism of the year. The term is variously applied to speed bumps, rumble strips, and intentionally building roads that are undersized for their projected volume. A traffic jam is the very definition of "calm traffic", you know.

  • ||

    I've lived on both coasts. Crosswalks in the middle of the road with no stop signs or traffic lights are pretty common on the west coast, a product of the hippie do-whatever-I-feel-like culture.

    As far as I remember, they are non-existent in the East, where it gives the perpetually enraged citizens a better opportunity to run over what are no doubt percieved as feckless pedestrians (who are for their part are actually just too hurried to make it to the next crosswalk.)

    In the South, the fat, slack-jawed residents are too dim-witted to master driving, so it's a moot point.

  • theOneState||

    Rhywun, non-lighted crosswalks aren't usually two skinny white lines. (examples)

    Some (esp in cities) even have flashing lights and big yellow signs. The extent to which they are obeyed voluntarily or enforced varies greatly from place to place, but they can work well in many towns and even cities (esp small towns or college towns w/ lots of pedestrians).

    Might be something about New Yorkers that makes them unworkable. (That's not a knock on you or your kind.)

  • theOneState||

    theOneState, the number of tickets issued by the cameras has gone done over time. It's not a comparison of pre- and post-camera.

    aaaahhhhh....

    Btw, I know red light cameras make me nervous, and being nervous makes me a bad driver. I doubt I'm the only one.

    Additionally, if I remember other examples correctly, the number of citations would also go down if they extended the yellow for a mere second. Also crashes would go down. But...um...so would revenue. (You can't have everything.)

  • ||

    Okay, what is with this lovefest over traffic circles? THEY SUCK!! It's because of them, along with one-way streets and inexplicable street name-changes that keep me from driving in DC if I can avoid it.

    That, and their fucking red-light cameras. And why don't they call them "yellow light" cameras? If I understand correctly, it is illegal to enter an intersection if the light is already yellow. Hence, they can nail you even sooner then you think. And how are we sure those cameras aren't calibrated an additional second or two in their favor?

    Fucking scam. Absolutely.

  • ||

    Okay, what is with this lovefest over traffic circles? THEY SUCK!!

    THEY ROCK!!!! And I win because I added more exclamation points. In fact, THEY ROCK!!!...[infinity +1] Neener neener neener. ;)

  • M1EK||

    1. Crosswalks without stop signs or traffic lights are all over this country. If you haven't seen them, you aren't looking very hard.

    2. The "signalless experiment" in the Netherlands relies on very low traffic speed. This would not work in the US in any way shape or form, beyond a few enclaves.

    3. 4-way stops do indeed work 'better' than traffic lights at certain low-volume intersections. Roundabouts would work even better, though.

    4. Here in Texas, we're dumb enough to put 4-way stops on all kinds of intersections, even ones with roads with more than one lane in each direction (my personal irritant). This has much to do with strict standards (warrants) for traffic lights. I'd like to rewrite the law to ban 4-way stops at roads with more than a lane each way, personally; it's too hard when there's a bunch of cars there to figure out whose turn it is.

    5. Red light cameras have their place, since cops don't bother to enforce red lights, preferring the easier task of writing speeding tickets.

    6. This morning, I ragged on a cyclist at cyburbia.org for claiming that he's doing motorists a favor by running red lights (just thought you might like to know).

  • ||

    M1EK,
    Aren't 4-way stops just evidence of bureaucratic indecisiveness? Why not a thruway and two yields?

  • ||

    Four way stops provide the same idiocy as red lights- even if no one is coming, you still have to stop.

    Hence the alternate definition of "California Roll:" Rolling through the four-way stop when no one is there. The thing I find most confusing about four-ways (and we have a lot in California) is when they randomly mix in "cross traffic does not stop" intersections. If you don't notice, and roll on through the sign because you got there first, it could be mighty unpleasant.

    In Pasadena, we even have a mini-roundabout with four-way stop signs!

  • ||

    They put I lot of signage (three black X's) up over the unregulated crosswalks.

    Yeah, I've seen a lot of those in Toronto, now that you mention it. I don't get it. I think anywhere (in an urban area) that pedestrians cross there should be at least a stop sign.

    What do you think of the Johnson City traffic circle?

    That's near Binghamton, right? I haven't lived around there.

    non-lighted crosswalks aren't usually two skinny white lines

    Well Zebra crossings are an improvement, but not much.

    Might be something about New Yorkers that makes them unworkable.

    There is definitely something about NYC *drivers* that renders them more incompetent than elsewhere. No offense taken, cos I don't drive.

  • ||

    About this unlighted crosswalks thing, I work in Arlington, VA, and I can think of no fewer than three within a radius of 4-5 blocks from my office. There's one right outside, as a matter of fact.

    4. Here in Texas, we're dumb enough to put 4-way stops on all kinds of intersections, even ones with roads with more than one lane in each direction (my personal irritant).

    The people who put 4-way stops at these intersections get their own level of hell.

  • ||

    dead elvis:

    If you join us for the DC gathering in November, I'll arm wrassle ya to settle the traffic circle thing.

    I also think we all should have a "moon tan" competition. I would win that, too.

    All interested parties contact the good Dr. thoreau.

  • ||

    I'm looking out my window at two crosswalks, neither of which have a stop sign or light. This is in the middle of a university campus, and are as much to tell students where to walk as to direct traffic. The speed limit is only 5-10 mph and there are speed bumps.

  • ||

    I have *never* seen a crosswalk that is not accompanied by a stop sign or a traffic light.

    In Los Angeles, it's quite common. And I've gotten rear-ended stopping for a pedestrian at one of these crosswalks, too.

  • ||

    About this unlighted crosswalks thing, I work in Arlington, VA, and I can think of no fewer than three within a radius of 4-5 blocks from my office.

    Am I the only one who finds this nuts??? I would never cross at such a point in the middle of traffic*, given the number of times I have been nearly run over at *protected* crosswalks with stop signs or traffic lights.

    *with no traffic I fully support crossing wherever the hell you want

  • ||

    Wow. I'm appalled that so many parts of the country just throw out crosswalks and expect traffic to stop on a dime when there is a person in it. That says to me how much of an afterthought pedestrians have become to traffic engineers.

  • Highway||

    As I'm sure I've pointed out before, the reason that the traffic circles in DC don't work is because they've screwed them up with stoplights.

    Modern roundabouts are extremely efficient for throughput, and there are many cases where they use less land than what would be required for auxiliary lanes. One I just had a hand in designing uses less pavement area and has better operation characteristics than the previously approved widening for a left turn lane and 2-way stop. Designing with adequate deflection and minimization of conflict has been improved, and modern roundabouts are about the best answer for most higher volume intersections.

    I've never really bought into Ruthless's crusade against traffic lights, mostly because there are a lot of situations that I think they DO improve the situation. They've got problems, sure: unwarranted lights put up to placate squeaky wheels, horrible signal control (an inexcusable problem with the kind of detection and adaptive signal management that's available), poor geometries of intersecting roads, and reluctance to accept better solutions, like roundabouts.

    The question about the traffic calming solutions and liberty hinges on a premise that colors the whole question, namely that the government owns all the roads. As such, moves like that would probably have to be deemed a net loss of liberty, in my opinion. Were ownership status different, the result could possibly be different. However, I think there are many methods for traffic calming that are entirely appropriate (speed bumps are never one) for specific applications. I don't see any reason to have a 40-foot wide residential street. Ever. But a 30-foot wide street, striped and channelized for parking with alternating sides? I think that's an excellent idea for traffic calming AND for environmental stewardship, compared to the 40-feet of blacktop. Tabletop intersections? Maybe, I'm not the biggest fan. But the first things, and usually the ONLY things, people think about with traffic calming are speed humps and cops. There's a lot more available.

  • ||

    Yeah, I've seen a lot of those in Toronto, now that you mention it. I don't get it. I think anywhere (in an urban area) that pedestrians cross there should be at least a stop sign.

    Ontario law is quite explicit about stopping at all ped xings if pedestrians are present. They are clearly signed and passing is not allowed within a certain distance (also marked with a sign "no passing here to crossing").

    The police are (or were, when I lived there over 25 yrs ago) quite active in enforcing the laws on crossings.

    With regards to roundabouts, I was in Australia about eleven years ago and was sort of surprised that they were still using them. When I returned to work there was a bulletin on my desk from Florida DOT with the standard for designing roundabouts. Since then the damn things have been springing up all over the state, but I have yet to do one myself.

  • ||

    Hence the alternate definition of "California Roll:" Rolling through the four-way stop when no one is there. The thing I find most confusing about four-ways (and we have a lot in California) is when they randomly mix in "cross traffic does not stop" intersections.

    Bingo. I came very close to t-boning a woman who stopped at her stop sign, then proceeded to pull out right in front of me, thinking I had a stop sign too, which I did not. It's too random.

    Why not a thruway and two yields?

    This idea I like...

    I'll arm wrassle ya to settle the traffic circle thing.

    Unfortunately I'm on the wrong coast :( (Hmmmm, how to explain this to the wife- "honey, I *need* to spend $400 on a plane ticket to D.C.- I'm going go shooting, then arm wrestle a guy to settle a traffic engineering dispute")

  • ||

    Wait. I thought the Police once said, "You don't have to put on the red light."

    I don't care if it's wrong or if it's right.

  • theOneState||

    Rhywun, crosswalks are implemented precisely so that cars must yield to pedestrians but otherwise are not required to stop.

    As a pedestrian (depending on the size of the town and how busy the street is etc.) you usually step to the edge of the street and wait for cars to stop. Or you stick a food out, or pretend like you're going to go just to get their attention. It's still walker beware. And I've even waved frantically at some well-mannered drivers to please keep moving b/c the car coming behind them didn't seem to be slowing down.

    When a crosswalk works on a busy street, usually in neighborhoods that get the same people and cars every day, it eliminates the need for a stop light entirely.

  • ||

    Unfortunately I'm on the wrong coast :( (Hmmmm, how to explain this to the wife- "honey, I *need* to spend $400 on a plane ticket to D.C.- I'm going go shooting, then arm wrestle a guy to settle a traffic engineering dispute")

    A good knows her husband has to be a man.

  • ||

    Four way stops provide the same idiocy as red lights- even if no one is coming, you still have to stop.

    Hence the alternate definition of "California Roll:" Rolling through the four-way stop when no one is there.

    There is also the "St. Louis stop," which is almost coming to a stop before rolling through.

    This might be an old joke, but I just heard it recently -- around here, the "STOP" on a sign is assumed to stand for Slightly Tap Other Pedal.

  • ||

    you usually step to the edge of the street and wait for cars to stop

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha... that sounds good in theory (well, for drivers - not so much for the pedestrian). How about this: a very common solution where I'm from is to have a stoplight that never turns red except for when a pedestrian comes up and pushes the button.

  • M1EK||

    "Wow. I'm appalled that so many parts of the country just throw out crosswalks and expect traffic to stop on a dime when there is a person in it."

    Actually, they occur even more frequently in European countries where the traffic DOES stop on a dime. If you bother to enforce traffic laws, they work great (and they're a necessary precondition to having roundabouts, of course).

    Problem is that in this country, we essentially enforce nothing but speeding laws.

  • theOneState||

    Rhywun, we have those, too. But in places where crosswalks exist, cars actually do stop. No need for a red light. And no uncomfortable feelings when you push for the walk signal and get it and only one car has to stop for you, with no one behind him for miles.

    Plus the crosswalk is more fuel-efficient.

    Anyway....

  • ||

    HOW RED LIGHT CAMERAS RAISE ACCIDENTS:

    Okay, here's a thought (though I didn't read all the comments, so it might have been said before)

    Maybe the amount of accidents is rising because people fearing a ticket at the intersection SLAM ON THE BRAKES...and the guy behind them didn't expect that. I'm sure many out there have had that tail gater where you KNOW you have to slow down gradually lest said gater hit you.

    Then there are those that will speed to make a light they know has a camera to avoid that picture.

    Either way you look at it, it seems logical to me that cameras increase accident probability by raising fear and taking away choice.

  • ||

    "Unfortunately I'm on the wrong coast :( (Hmmmm, how to explain this to the wife- "honey, I *need* to spend $400 on a plane ticket to D.C.- I'm going go shooting, then arm wrestle a guy to settle a traffic engineering dispute")"

    Hey, get a cheap ticket. There are "no frills" carriers who don't waste money on things like landing gear maintenance.

    If you left-coasters can arrange something in Reno or Vegas, I'm so there.

  • Gratuitous Monty Python Quote||

    "I like traffic lights
    I like traffic lights
    I like traffic lights
    'Tho my name's not Fred
    I like traffic lights
    I like traffic lights
    I like traffic lights
    But not when they are Red"

  • ||

    HOW RED LIGHT CAMERAS RAISE ACCIDENTS:

    Then there are those that will speed to make a light they know has a camera to avoid that picture

    At lunch I was talking to one of our interns, who is from Germany. While still in Germany, he got caught by a camera while going through a red light.

    Actually, as far as he knows the light was still yellow when he went through it. I'm a bit unclear on the details, but he mentioned something about "a point-five-second delay." As near as I can figure it, he entered the intersection when the light was still yellow, but some time in the next half-second the light changed, and the camera took his photo.

    He also mentioned that it was at 4 a.m. and there was no cross-traffic, or any other traffic around.

    I told him, "Well, next time, you should just drive faster, to minimize the chance that you're still in the intersection when the light changes and the camera takes the photo."

    Anyway, somehow his mother was able to take the rap for him, because she is the owner of the car. It has to do with the paperwork that resulted from the citation -- I'll skip the details as they are a bit unclear to me anyway.

    But anyway, did you know that part of the penalty for this kind of violation is that the driver (or in this instance, owner) is required to keep a diary of every trip taken in the car, including destination and mileage, for the next (I think) six months? And apparently the police may, at their whim, require the driver to bring the diary in for review, and to be checked against the odometer?

    Nice to know the Germans are still better at being Nazis than we are.

  • ||

    Houston has a large roundabout. It's a total clusterduck with 5 multi-lane roads. Sometimes the road yields to the circle. Sometimes the circle yields to the road. Maddening.

    I live in a suburb with lots of multi-lane +left turn lane roads with 4 way stops. The intersections are built well in advance of the traffic needs, and they simply don't justify the expense of a stop light. The intersections are wide enough that you often get many cars moving at once, and usually they miss each other. e.g. The car to my left has the right of way, but if I go now, I'll be out of his way before he gets to me. It works well so long as cars move in sync, with everyone going West going first, then the ones going North, etc. Not so well when some going West yield, while others don't, and it's really North's turn.

    Throw in a school crossing guard who escorts the children one at a time as they approach the intersection and it's a good thing I don't carry a gun.

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