Vision Zero Isn’t Working

Vision Zero advocates want red light cameras and speed cameras everywhere as if that will magically reduce traffic accidents and fatalities.

For decades, traffic engineers followed a tried-and-true formula for reducing auto fatalities: improve roadway designs in ways that reduce the number and impact of accidents. Vision Zero has diverted cities from that formula in an overt anti-auto strategy that sometimes actually makes streets more dangerous (such as when one-way streets are converted to two-way operation). So it is no surprise that Vision Zero isn’t working.

It can be said for certain that Vision Zero’s efforts to reduce driving have failed. Chicago and Los Angeles were the first major cities to adopt Vision Zero goals in 2012. Since then, per-capita driving in Chicago has grown by more than 5 percent while in Los Angeles it has grown more than 2 percent. In Philadelphia, Vision Zero has coerced the politicians into giving them lots of driver’s taxes and bullied neighborhoods into adding bike lanes, but the outcome will be the same as the other cities: reduced mobility, money wasted, and no decline in accidents, injuries or fatalities.

An enforcement-for-profit scheme embraced by Harrisburg that has nothing to do with safety, speed cameras exist only to raise money. Cameras can’t stop accidents, they can only take pictures. The reason Roosevelt Boulevard is unsafe is because the city refuses to use best practices in highway safety engineering to fix the problems.

Immediate and free steps that could be taken to make the Boulevard safer: 1. Synchronize the lights to 45 mph, ending speeding and red-light running; 2. Put the crosswalks underground – no more pedestrian deaths. But it won’t happen because there is too much money to be made with the cameras. The city keeps the Boulevard dangerous for the profits from cameras.

In Washington, DC after more than a decade, traffic safety has not improved. After collecting $500,000,000.00 in ticket revenue, injury accidents have not declined. The same will happen on the Boulevard. An independent audit of Maryland’s speed cameras showed an ongoing ticket error rate of 2.9%, which equaled nearly 25,000 fraudulent tickets being issued, while the Baltimore camera program raked in over $7 million in revenue in four years.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the PPA was under investigation by the FBI, and has red-light cameras that are 3% accurate. How can we possibly trust them with speed cameras?

Unbiased studies done by people and organizations with no financial interest in cameras show that cameras have no effect and even make highways more dangerous. A Minnesota Department of Transportation (DOT) study found no evidence that speed cameras had any positive impact on driver behavior. In a UK study, speed cameras were shown to increase injury accidents. The most dangerous place to be on a British road is near a speed camera, because of panic braking. Cameras will change driver behavior for the worse on the Boulevard.

The only “studies” showing speed cameras to be effective are from people and organizations who profit from camera enforcement, and those “studies” suffer from an improper methodology.

This is being labeled a pilot project, but it is far from it. Blanketing the entire state with speed cameras is the goal. After time passes, the cameras will be on every road in the state, an intention that has already been voiced in Harrisburg. They are using the ruse of “fine with no points” to sell the cameras, by making them a little less onerous.

Magically, speed cameras will be found to be a great success by the camera promoters. So successful in fact, that we will be told THERE IS NO TIME TO WASTE! WE MUST HAVE SPEED CAMERAS EVERYWHERE IMMEDIATELY!

Drivers know that speed cameras and red light cameras are a money-grabbing racket.

Shame on the politicians and their pet special interests who are responsible for this unfair taxation by citation.

Red-light cameras have increased accidents and injuries on the Boulevard, as the Philadelphia Police department found. Red-light cameras exist only to raise money. 

So Vision Zero wants more speed cameras and red light cameras to make the streets safer.  How can cameras do that when they have been proven to make the streets more dangerous?

Contrary to their wishes, even slowing down cars is not going to reduce traffic deaths to zero unless, of course, cities reduce speed limits to zero. But the real point of the “Vision Zero” name is not to set a realistic goal but to silence potential opponents: “If you are not for Vision Zero, you must want to see people die in traffic.” While there’s nothing wrong with seeking to make roads safer, there is something wrong with following a cult that treats its prescription as religious dogma and demonizes anyone who disagrees.

Despite the questionable assumptions, the Vision Zero cult has attracted a lot of followers in Philadelphia. City officials spout off about the zero-fatality goal without mentioning that this goal is unattainable and the real effect of their policies will be to reduce people’s mobility.

Written by Tom McCarey, Member, National Motorists Association

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  1. This is a a great piece. When there is inadequate engineering and overzealous ticketing, it is clear that money is the goal. It is sad that people like the bike group push failed policies, rather than work with drivers and others for rational rules. NYC is a total failure with Vision Zero. If Philly does not end all this anti-driver lunacy, nobody will want to be in the city.

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