Red-light revelation
Re: House Majority Leader Dick Armey's report

Distributed email:
In time the truth will come out!

There is a contract clause preventing cities from extending yellow times!

From: Chad Dornsife
Date: Fri, 01 Jun 2001 10:59:48 –0700

Subject: Oregonian Re: House Majority Leader Dick Armey and local investigative report

Portland’s national TV cred, in reality and not

By, Peter Ames Carlin, Wednesday, May 30, 2001
Red light, green light: An investigative report by KOIN (6) reporter Elaine Murphy last February has become a central part of a report issued by the office of U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R–Texas.

Mr. Carlin,

There are 2 distinct problems here that most in the media haven’t been able to grasp. NBC news did a story last night that really speaks volumes to how sad TV news reporting has become. They had a reporter flying around the nation interviewing entities who have red–light cameras, with stop watch in hand. Obviously confused about his objective or the real question, interviewing entity spokespersons responding with “What Problem?”. Its painfully obvious the producers failed to contact the opposing groups like ours who are fighting this to ask what the problem is. If they had their findings would have shocked the nation.

link to NBC story:

On signal timing there are several key procedures. First determine the prevailing off peak free–flowing speed of the approaching traffic (regardless of posted limits) and set the signal timing using a chart or an engineering formula that increases yellow duration to allow sufficient go/no go reaction time. Then as a quality control to this, review how it is performing. If there are too many entries on red you further adjust the timing to minimize unacceptable entries. On its face BEAVERTON HAS NOT DONE THIS. In fact, I have not heard of a single camera location that has done this.

Electronic enforcement. If camera’s are used, only those that intentionally run red lights should be targeted. Inadvertent violations should not be ticketed. Violations are those drivers that pass the limit line 1 second after the onset of the red. Some may argue .5 seconds – regardless, no zero tolerance practice is acceptable because by design the length of yellow intervals vary. The unknown variable length is a trap in and of itself. In Oregon each political entity does it own thing and motorists have no reliable expectation.

Every intersection in Beaverton with cameras, have truncated yellows and zero tolerance. (we don’t know if they have changed them yet – doubt it) It is on a video news clip from a local station. (second shorter at camera intersections) Also Beaverton's quote unquote studies are not studies at all. This data and reports are from a PR organization whose job is to promote the insurance industry's agenda. When examined they gave reduction credit to cameras, when in fact during the study periods, the timing of lights were altered. You get a much better feel for what happened when you read the ITE correspondence below. The PR package they distributed was designed to sell the cameras and has no factual basis – ZERO. In an IIHS response to the Dick Armey report the following became known.

News Flash! 5/25/01
Revelations from IIHS show that they may be a lead cause in the nations red–light running crisis and the associated high fatal accidents. They spearheaded a movement to shorten yellows causing more entries on red (collisions), this movement undermined sound engineering practices and benefited red light camera makers and the citation industry. Approximately 25 percent of this group’s sponsors income comes from citation surcharges. A report by congress shows that returning to sound engineering practices reduces accident rates and that these cameras are about money, not safety.

If you want to get a better idea of how this happened it is imperative that you read the correspondence between us and the Institute of Transportation Engineers.

ITE Key Contributor to Problem!
May 29, 2001 ITE correspondence in response to report by Dick Armey, R, TX – Email from “This left the country with this legacy and crisis of 950 fatalities a year attributed to this cause according to your numbers. A number that would be half that if we hadn’t lost engineering based and verified only ITE or FHWA (MUTCD) guidance and practice standards.”

This is about greed and easy money schemes – not safety. As you can see with this letter safety is easily attainable and the problems can be solved. The problem, they cost money and there is no downstream revenue – only reduced accidents.

Chad Dornsife

Erik Skrum
National Motorists Association