MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The controversy over red light cameras continues to rage. In Missouri, one St. Louis judge ruled they were invalid, while another ruled the opposite.
Several transportation experts recently weighed in with their thoughts.
Chad Dornsifer of the Best Highway Safety Practices Institute bills himself as one of the top experts in the nation when is comes to assessing the usage of red light cameras. And if it were up to him, red light cameras would get a stop sign.
“Essentially what we have is unsafe practices being monetized by our government,” Dornsifer told abc24.com.
Twenty four states and the District of Columbia currently use red light cameras.
“The United States Department of Transportation and the states are conspiring to make it a civil crime so they can eliminate due process,” Dornsifer said.
So, what about the ongoing “money vs. safety” issue?
“Not a single state that has ever adopted cameras has shown a safety improvement,” said Dornsifer, “the sole purpose is money.”
Dornsifer maintains safety can be improved with engineering, and adds, “If they’ve chose cameras, then the safety of the people is not the issue.”
Red light cameras are not used everywhere in the Mid-South. Cameras can be found in Arkansas, but with a twist drivers might like.
“We do have them,” said David Nilles of the Arkansas Department of Transportation, “but we do not use them for issuing tickets. They are basically there to monitor movement of traffic.”
In Mississippi, they aren’t there at all.
“The thing about the state law in Mississippi,” said Wes Dean, a traffic engineer for the Mississippi Department of Transportation, “an officer has to visually see an infraction taking place.”
If you’re still wavering on the money vs. safety issue, here’s a parting shot from one of the experts.
“We sit here naively believing our court system is all about justice,” Dornsifer told abc24.com, “when in fact, most traffic courts live wholly off the income of tickets.”
Dornsifer also said that over the three years there has been a 25 percent reduction in accidents simply because of the economy.
So, unless municipalities can prove red light cameras generate more than 25% less accidents, their money is gone in the time it takes the camera to flash.