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Old 2007-07-11
Red Light Ray
Posts: n/a

I've lived in Colorado and watched how the introduction of automated enforcement is orchestrated. It's the same everywhere.

Once the city has decided to implement automated enforcement, here's the process:

Step 1: The automated enforcement vendors make presentations before the city council. Selling points include a) No cost to city; the violators pay for the program, b) No out-of-pocket costs to the city; the equipment, vehicles (for photo radar), personnel, ticket-processing and issuing of citations are all part of a turnkey package by the vendor. Since all capital items are leased, there are no upfront costs to the city.

Step 2: Plant stories in the local news that speeding and red light-running are growing problems. Cite bogus statistics that support this notion. Don't worry about any reporters asking hard questions such as "Show me the last four years of accident stats and engineering reports that support your contention that we've got a problem." Never happens.

Step 3: Conduct rigged public opinion survey (often paid for by the RLC vendor) that shows similar public sentiment. Feed this to the local media.

Step 4: Once an implementation date is set, make mass mailing to residents extolling the virtues of automated enforcement, answering any FAQ and preparing them for the inevitable.

Step 5: After one week, invite media to RLC or photo radar locations and let them watch the system in action. Reinforce the notion that the violators are plentiful and also are the ones paying for the system, not the taxpayers. (Yeah, that's a contradiction, but what the hell, nobody says local government has to be truthful.)

Step 6: A few months into the program, issue a press release that says accidents and deaths have taken a dramatic plunge since the program began. Even if true, which is never the case, the numbers are meaningless.

It takes a minimum of three years of prior data and three years of post data to make a meaningful before/after comparison. And a comparison should be expressed in fatalities/injuries per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, not in the total number of fatalities and injuries. No other yardstick compares apples to apples. But don't worry; the media won't notice.
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