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ATS says red light violations have gone up

CultureMap:

Anti-big brother Houstonians rejoiced when a referendum passed last November to take down the city’s network of red light cameras. Nearly six months later, data collected by the camera service provider, Phoenix-based ATS, suggests that citizens’ temporarily cautious attitude towards red lights has already reversed.

ATS analyzed 10 high-traffic intersections in different parts of the city that had seen noticeably decreases in violations when the cameras were installed, but have now suffered unprecedented increases. For example, the westbound intersection of Richmond Avenue and Hillcroft Avenue dipped from 5,628 violations in 2009 to 2,532 in 2010 — only to rocket back up to 3,799 in the first few months of 2011.

The intersection of westbound Southwest Freeway and Fountainview is an even more hyperbolic example: In 2009, violations numbered 2,211. The cameras’ presence slashed that figure to 811 violations in 2010, but with the deinstallation, the number of violations has risen past the original statistic to 2,981 — a 72 percent increase. What this data suggests is that the camera program’s removal has inspired more violations than ever before.

“This is the reversal of a trend,” says Charles Territo of ATS. “Driver behavior was changing because they knew the cameras were there, or they’d gotten a ticket. The cameras can’t prevent accidents, but what they do is change driver behavior over time. People drive differently, so they are a deterrent. I think this shows how much of a deterrent they were.”

Make of this what you will. On the one hand, ATS has an obvious interest in telling Houston “See? I told you that you’d miss me when I’m gone.” On the other hand, does anyone really doubt that people are running red lights with abandon again? We all know what it’s like to drive in this town. Via Houston Tomorrow.

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4 Comments

  1. Let’s accept this at face value, even though ATS has a long history of cherry picking and even fabricating stats. They analyzed 10 approaches out of about 72, why these 10? There are more than 10 high traffic approaches. Why is it they only detail 2 intersections? One of those intersections has fewer violations than when the cameras were up in 2009. Why no explanation of that? And if that is one they had to use I would think the rest of the data would be pretty weak if you looked at it. If we look back on the program over the years could we find similar results from one year to the next while the cameras were up? I bet you could, does that mean the cameras weren’t working then? One thing that most professionals that analyze camera data, including Dr Stein, agree on is that it is hard to get a real picture without accounting for “avoidance” we know that when you put cameras up a certain number of people find a different way to travel. Lower volume means lower violations. The question being is there a higher traffic volume at camera locations now since the vote? I believe there is. I think ATS got one thing right, cameras can’t prevent accidents. Glad to hear them finally admit it.

    Let’s hope the lege passes some of the bills they are looking at like SB 500 and HB 887. I have been talking to several local senators offices lately including my senator, Whitmire and Gallegos and Elkins. I am kind of surprised that with nearly 200k voters in Harris county voting against the cameras and Houston’s camera ban vote being delivered by dem voters that they still apparently support the cameras statewide. Each of them has a pro camera record

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/special/05/legislature/3191911.html

    “Whitmire, who spoke at length against the amendment, said he believes efforts to thwart Houston’s red-light camera program are over for this session, which ends May 30.

    “That booger is dead. We just gave it a proper burial,” he said.”

    and despite numerous contacts none has introduced or cosponsored any bills and none of them have issued any indication that they recognize the people don’t want the cameras and will work to carry that desire out by supporting a statewide ban. Meanwhile the fake camera groups continue to sue to block elections. Port Lavaca turned in a valid petition certified by the city secretary and the council refused to put it on the ballot. They cited being sued by a group called “Texas Traffic Safety Coalition” which is entirely run by a Chicago PR firm that works for Redflex the camera vendor in Port Lavaca. As long as the lege looks the other way these tacticts will continue. Let’s hope they act soon.

  2. oops, sorry that was meant to be Ellis, not Elkins. it’s still early for me and not enough coffee!

  3. byron schirmbeck says:

    Can’t believe this isn’t getting more local attention. If you saw the print edition of the Chronicle today, front page above the fold was an article about how ATS and Houston are mystified that the new accident data shows accidents are actually DOWN 16% since the cameras were voted out. Funny thing, a front page above the fold print article never made it to their online version of the paper. I’ll post a link when I have the article scanned in for anyone that wants to read it.

  4. […] would be the flip side of this previous story about the violations going up in the same time period. The data about how severe the accidents are […]