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Essay prompt: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported a total of 9,262 people killed in 2014 due to speeding-related accidents. In order to eliminate the consequences of speeding, all strategies such as visible speed enforcement cameras should be considered. While many agree that the installation of visible speed enforcement cameras has increased the safety of drivers on the road, others have argued that these cameras can lead to dangerous traffic situations. Based on your research, do you support the installation of visible speed enforcement cameras? Why or why not?
Essay: Road traffic collisions are an important cause of death and disability worldwide. Morbidity from road traffic collisions is expected to increase in the future and is estimated to move from ninth to third place in the global burden of disease ranking, as measured in disability adjusted life years (Wilson). Visible speed enforcement cameras are considered to be essential in reducing casualties on the road. However, there are existing arguments against speed enforcement cameras, such as “The Kangaroo Effect”, the action of drivers suddenly slowing down when entering an enforcement zone only to increase after leaving the enforcement zone (Boos). This action has been viewed by many, but there has been no scientific evidence to prove that this results in an increase of accidents. Ultimately, visible speed enforcement cameras are essential to the community by having them present in areas where high speed is predicted to create or result in increased morbidity. However, there are flaws with the speed monitoring cameras such some cameras not being accurate and not being blatantly visible (pg. 9, Willis). Despite few flaws, these cameras, if used correctly, assist in protecting lives and ensuring the safety for not only the driver, but the pedestrian as well.
Placement of the speed control cameras are important for increasing safety for drivers. For example, there is a road near my house that had a speed limit of 60 miles per hour. On this road, there is a sudden sharp turn that would cause many deadly accidents if the driver did not pay attention and slow down on the turn. Many accidents happened on that road and the local government passed a law for a visible speed enforcement camera to be placed on the road which lowered the speed from 60 to 35 miles per hour. The move significantly lowered the amount of accidents on that road the first month it was implemented. Without introducing and implementation of a speed monitoring camera, the rate of accidents to include those resulting in deaths on that road would not have been lowered.
While speed monitoring cameras have many benefits, there are arguments against them. Many traffic engineers have used the phenomenon “Regression to the Mean” or “RTM”, which refers to when extreme samples of any set of data are likely to be followed by examples which are less extreme (Boos). However, RTM is a concept that is often misused when dealing with and actual correlation is referred to as RTM. While there are major concerns about the correlation “…injury crash reductions in the range of 20% to 25% appear to be a reasonable estimate of site-specific safety benefit from conspicuous, fixed-camera, automated speed enforcement programs”. (Thomas et al., 2008) However, in places around the United States where speed enforcement cameras have been implemented and enforced, there has been obvious correlation between the program inception and the fatality rate. For example, Portland reported a 53% reduction in fatality rates, Seattle’s average number of traffic violations decreased by 64%, and Washington D.C. reported a 70% reduction in fatalities (Shahum). New York city saw a 17.4% decline in crashes and injuries that were within 500 feet of installed cameras (Shahum). New York City’s direct data correlation specifically proves the benefit of speed monitoring cameras and negates the RTM effect.
The economic benefit that is provided by the speed enforcement cameras is unprecedented. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” ...the estimated traffic fatalities in 2012 cost society $216 billion at $6.4 million per fatality and cost insurance companies $108 billion” (Roberts). After the introduction of red light and speed safety cameras, total fatalities were reduced by an additional 25% which resulted in, “A $27 billion reduction in costs for 8,445 fewer traffic fatalities in 2012” (Roberts). Without a doubt, speed monitoring cameras are much needed, not only to keep lives safe, but to keep personal and national debt low.
Visible speed monitoring cameras are very effective and have potential to be more effective than they are currently. There has been much uncertainty with accepting the use of these cameras. With some improvements, such as making all speed monitoring cameras visible and not hidden, and making them more accurate, speed monitoring cameras can be the much needed asset in addressing the problem of speeding.
Boos A, Misty. Speed Cameras as a Tool to Reduce Road Fatalities. Virginia Department of Transportation. 5 May 2009
Roberts, David. Economic Benefits of Red-Light and Speed Safety Cameras. Atsol. 2015. WebShahum, Leah. 10 Stats that Show the Promise of Safety Cameras to Manage Speed. Vision Zero Network. 8 December 2015. Web
Thomas J, Libby. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the, 2009. No. 1595, Highway Safety: Traffic Law Compliance, Speed Management, and Heavy Trucks, Pg. 117-126.
Wilson C, Willis C, Hendrikz JK, Le Brocque R, Bellamy N. Speed cameras for the prevention of road traffic injuries and deaths. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 11.
Willis K, David. Speed Cameras: An Effectiveness and a Policy Review. Texas A&M University. 200