Resolved: The US should abolish traffic cameras
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After not so many votes...
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== Definitions ==
For the purpose of this debate, traffic cameras will be defined as any device used to catch drivers violating traffic laws and enabling the state to issue citation to the said driver (I.e. red light cameras and speeding cameras) without a sworn police officer present.
== Structure ==
1. Opening arguments
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We hold that the trial court erred in admitting the photographs and the accompanying declaration over the appellant's hearsay and confrontation clause objections. Absent the photographs and content in the declaration, there is insufficient evidence to support the violation. Accordingly we reverse the judgment.
The underlying facts in this case are fairly simple. No police officer witnessed the alleged traffic violation. Instead, a police officer testified about the general area depicted in a photograph taken from a camera installed at an intersection in Santa Ana. A particular private company contracts with the municipality to install, maintain, and store this digital photographic information. The officer testified these photographs are then periodically sent back to the police department for review as possible driving violations...the photographs contain hearsay evidence concerning the matters depicted in the photographs including the date, time, and other information. The person who entered that relevant information into the camera-computer system did not testify.
The Fifth Amendment ensures (in part) that people are not deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of the law. The Ohio Constitution allows for a person facing penalties to defend themselves based on evidence, testimony and questioning of witnesses. In this specific case, the “witness” for a hearing would a be a representative from the city of Elmwood Place who would read a report provided by the company which owns the traffic cameras — who have a financial stake in the process.Traffic cameras such as these presume guilt, and do not provide motorists with the opportunity of a fair hearing because a machine is unable to make a determination on why a traffic law was potentially violated. A police officer who has witnessed a traffic violation can, but a camera cannot.
"Once drivers knew about the cameras, they appeared to accept a higher accident risk from slamming on their brakes at yellow lights to avoid an expensive traffic citation—thereby decreasing safety for themselves and other drivers," said Justin Gallagher, an assistant professor of economics at Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve.In Houston, the installation of the cameras led to 18 percent more non-angle accidents, with an estimated 28 percent jump in these collisions in a combined Houston-Dallas data sample, researchers found.
"There is no reason to believe that there is a reduction in overall accidents thanks to red-light cameras," Gallagher said. "Our analysis does not support the case that the cameras improve public safety, which is one of the main justifications used by public officials and law enforcement."
All in all, it seems like red light cameras are at worst dangerous, and at best only variably effective on an intersection-by-intersection basis.
The 10 News Investigators discovered the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) quietly changed the state’s policy on yellow intervals in 2011, reducing the minimum below federal recommendations. The rule change was followed by engineers, both from FDOT and local municipalities, collaborating to shorten the length of yellow lights at key intersections, specifically those with red light cameras (RLCs).
While yellow light times were reduced by mere fractions of a second, research indicates a half-second reduction in the interval can double the number of RLC citations — and the revenue they create. The 10 News investigation stemmed from a December discovery of a dangerously short yellow light in Hernando County. After the story aired, the county promised to re-time all of its intersections, and the 10 News Investigators promised to dig into yellow light timing all across Tampa Bay.
In a world where police officers regularly lie on innocent people, traffic cameras are one of the greatest inventions ever designed to assist the justice system and are crucial to giving people a fair and just hearing as well as outright saving lives. Because of this, I strongly reject the resolution and would instead propose that the US not only keep traffic cameras, but that the federal government incentivize states to DRASTICALLY INCREASE the amount of cameras they have, the level of quality they retain, the amount of footage they can maintain and the amount of public roadway they can film!
Perhaps the true genius in the implementation of traffic cameras is that they deter activities that statistically cause car accidents. Questionable outlier research aside, the raw data speaks for itself:
A report presented this week to the Governors Highway Safety Association projected that more than 21,000 deaths or serious injuries could be prevented with nationwide use of speed cameras. Researchers for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety examined a program put in place by Montgomery County in 2007 and compared its experience with that of Fairfax County, where speed cameras are not used. They found a 59 percent decrease in the likelihood of a motorist in Montgomery County exceeding the speed limit by 10 mph or more. And because speed is a factor in more than 50 percent of fatal crash reports, getting drivers to slow down translates into saved lives and fewer injuries.
Cameras are an effective and efficient means of changing behavior. Fewer people will speed if there is a likelihood of being ticketed. Exclusively using police officers for traffic enforcement is neither realistic nor desirable: not realistic, because of other demands on their time; not desirable, because cameras enforce the law without the biases that can accompany traffic stops.
Red-light cameras are making communities safer across the country. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety analyzed the impact of photo enforcement on intersection fatality rates in 99 large U.S. cities from 2004 to 2008. It found that red-light safety cameras reduced fatal crashes by 24 percent. The IIHS study said that had cameras been deployed in all major U.S. cities during that time period, a total of 815 deaths could have been prevented. In 2009 alone, 676 people were killed and 113,000 were injured in crashes involving red-light running, according to IIHS. Two thirds of those killed were pedestrians, bicyclists, passengers of the red-light runners, or occupants of other vehicles.
I evaluate whether speed enforcement cameras reduce the number and severity of traffic accidents by penalizing drivers for exceeding speed limits. Relying on micro data on accidents and speed cameras across Great Britain, I find that installing these devices significantly enhance road safety. Putting another 1,000 cameras could reduce up to 1130 collisions, 330 serious injuries, and save 190 lives annually, generating net benefits of around 21 million pounds. These effects are, however, highly localized around the camera and there are suggestive evidences of more crashes away from the camera, illustrating the possible limitations associated with fixed speed cameras.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety looked at 14 cities that ended their red-light camera programs between 2010 and 2014. Researchers compared the annual crash rates in those cities with those of 29 others in the same regions that continued using red-light cameras.
The numbers tell a sobering story. In those cities that turned off their cameras, the rate of fatal crashes involving a driver who sped through a red light was 30 percent higher per capita than if the cameras had remained functional, according to the research. The overall fatal crash rate at signalized intersections in those cities was likewise 16 percent higher per capita.
From the time they went into operation through 2014, red-light cameras across all 79 large U.S. cities included in the study saved nearly 1,300 lives, IIHS concluded.
Speed cameras can substantially reduce the likelihood of deadly collisions and result in long-term changes in driver behavior. If all U.S. communities had speed-camera programs like the one recently studied, some 21,000 deaths or serious injuries would have been prevented in 2013.
. . .
The study was based in Montgomery County, Md., a large community near Washington, D.C., where speed cameras were introduced in 2007 and used on residential streets with speed limits of 35 mph or less and in school zones. After seven years, cameras reduced the likelihood of a driver exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 mph by 59 percent, compared with similar roads in two nearby Virginia counties that did not have speed cameras, according to the study.
No matter how you look at it, traffic cameras make our country a much better place to live in! A vote for CON is a vote for the judicial integrity and the safety of America!
One can try arguing that the photograph is hearsay and is therefore inadmissible under the Sixth Amendment. It is hearsay because you cannot cross examine the photograph or the camera. The Sixth Amendment gives defendants the right to confront their accuser.
A before-after study is described and the resulting data used to quantify the effect of increasing the yellow interval on the frequency of red-light violations. Based on this research, it was concluded that: (1) an increase of 0.5 to 1.5 s in yellow duration (such that it does not exceed 5.5 s) will decrease the frequency of red-light-running by at least 50 percent; (2) drivers do adapt to the increase in yellow duration; however, this adaptation does not undo the benefit of an increase in yellow duration; and (3) increasing a yellow interval that is shorter than that obtained from a proposed recommended practice published by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) is likely to yield the greatest return (in terms of a reduced number of red-light violations) relative to the cost of re-timing an interval in the field.
This report suggests there is something that can be done to address this hazard. It cites examples of problem intersections where yellow times have been raised by about 30 percent and the number of people entering on red fell dramatically. It cites, in addition, controlled scientific studies that confirm the hypothesis that longer yellows are better. The following reductions in red light entries are documented: Mesa, Arizona 73% Georgia 75% Virginia site 1 79% Virginia site 2 77% Virginia site 3 Problem “virtually eliminated” Maryland Problem “virtually eliminated” It is no coincidence that each of the “problem” intersections mentioned above happened to have yellow times that fell short by about 30 percent. Today’s formula for calculating yellow times yields yellow times that can in some cases be about 30 percent shorter than the older formula.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.Transportation officials and engineers know that the yellow signal timing is essential to safety. The data showing this to be the case are found in their studies. Nonetheless, some have systematically and intentionally ignored the inescapable engineering fact that longer yellows would solve the so-called crisis caused by shortened yellows.
Engineering solutions and an extra second of yellow duration made red light cameras a money loser in San Carlos, California.
[C]ountries that have embraced a comprehensive approach to road safety, such as the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, have had the most success in reducing their rates of death and injury from automobile accidents. These countries have made it a high priority to reduce rates of speeding, and they have taken steps to improve the safety of their roads, vehicles, drivers, and all others who use roads, including pedestrians and motorcyclists.For example, proactive countries have built their roads to include features that calm traffic, such as roundabouts. They have also established speed limits tailored to local road conditions, while stepping up enforcement to deter traffic violations. And they have begun to require that all new cars include life-saving technologies such as autonomous emergency braking.Improving road safety is one of the biggest opportunities we have to save lives around the world. And the good news is that, starting with the solutions outlined above, we already know how to do it.
Re PRO Contention #1: Traffic cameras violate the United States Constitution
CON Contention #1: Traffic cameras are superior to eye-witness testimony.