Cameras are making KC safer
The Kansas City Star
Red-light cameras have made Kansas City’s intersections safer.
Elected officials should take a good look at whether using cameras to catch speeders on Ward Parkway, Brookside Boulevard, the Paseo and other streets could have the same positive results.
Critics will howl that fining motorists who exceed the speed limit is a money grab by City Hall. Or that it won’t have any real effect on speed-related accidents, or that it’s trampling on the rights of drivers.
City officials heard many of those same complaints when they correctly decided four years ago to install cameras at particularly dangerous intersections. The solid goal was to reduce accidents that injure or kill people.
And it worked.
The dangerous “T-bone” accidents, in which vehicles collide at right angles, are down. So are red-light camera citations that cost $100 for offenders. Behavior has changed for the better because people aren’t running stoplights as often as they once did.
More motorists are obeying the law, a positive development. So is the fact that the city is making roughly $2 million a year from people who break the law.
As an examination of the pros and cons of using cameras to catch speeders goes on at City Hall and inside the Police Department, Kansas Citians may use this as a starting point: If they don’t speed, a new program would not harm them.
But catching and fining the people who do go too fast sounds like a good way of enforcing the law.
Police already use technology to do that job, with radar on the ground and helicopters in the air. Installing cameras to automatically clock speeders could provide an extra set of eyes on the roads, and free up police for other crime-fighting duties.
Elected officials know the new cameras could create some problems. Potential legal matters need to be sorted out. Cost and time issues imposed on the Police Department must be considered by City Council members, who have heard constituents complain about speeding vehicles on city streets.
One more item: The city should continues its red-light camera surveillance plan when the initial contract with its vendor lapses this summer, either with the current firm or a different one. The program has been a success, despite its initial skeptics.