In response to your editorial “Red-light cameras beneficial” (Our Views, Sept. 8), I have to laugh at the studies used to “prove” that red-light cameras make our streets safer. For instance, the main study quoted in the editorial supporting the use of these cameras was one performed by the city of Tampa. In it the city claims to have reduced the number of accidents by 30 percent at traffic signals having cameras. At www.StopCarCrashes.com we have a little different take on this so-called unbiased study.
First, the study is anything but unbiased — the money screams this. No city wants to lose the multiple millions generated by red-light cameras.
Something we teach is that accident reduction for a city (state or county) may not be real unless that city’s improvement reduces “total” accidents within its entire jurisdiction. A city simply can’t conclude that a traffic improvement, such as red-light cameras, implemented at a handful of intersections, has effectively reduced accidents for the entire jurisdiction even if the improvement shows a significant reduction in accidents for that small number of locations.
The point is, virtually no one ever asks the question: What happens to the accident picture at the other locations in the entire city? What if all the unsafe drivers (i.e., those most likely to run red lights) figure out where all the cameras are and subsequently modify their driving at just these locations? In fact, these unsafe drivers continue to drive like a bat out of hell at locations without red-light cameras so much so that the number of accidents actually goes up by 300, giving the city a net zero improvement?
And that brings me to another sad fact about Tampa’s ability to determine whether road or intersection improvements actually reduce accidents or not. They need to know how many total accidents occurred within their city. Several years ago, the city stopped sending police officers out to less-serious traffic accidents. That’s right; Tampa (and most other cities) doesn’t even code up all of their traffic crashes. Therefore they don’t even know how many accidents occur citywide for a given year. Because of this fact alone Tampa shouldn’t even pretend to perform traffic accident studies and make any conclusions about their effectiveness in reducing traffic accidents.
Scott L. Shaw, P.E.
The writer is the founder of www. StopCarCrashes.com.
Weigh options carefully
In the coming weeks a large number of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. policyholders will receive a notice that they are able to leave Citizens and begin receiving insurance coverage through a private company. Before jumping at the offer, it is imperative that policyholders understand the risks they are taking if they choose to leave Citizens.
Although the downsizing of Citizens is necessary to the long-term health of Citizens, it must not be detrimental to individual policyholders. The state Legislature has enacted statutes that offer protections to policyholders insured through Citizens. For example, rate increases are capped at 10 percent per year unless otherwise approved by the Office of Insurance Regulation. The private insurers, also known as “take-out” companies, do not have the same statutory restrictions. In fact, under the downsizing arrangement, policyholders could get lured by low premiums for the first year but then face significant increases one year later. The 10 percent rate cap does not apply to these companies.
There is no doubt that the way Citizens does business is changing. Opportunities to leave Citizens may or not be good for each policyholder. I strongly encourage policyholders to get all the facts before they decide whether to accept an offer to leave Citizens. Not only should a comparison of premiums be made but also the type and amount of coverage that is being offered. Policyholders need to make sure they are satisfied with the services the new insurer is offering as well as the perils they want to be insured for.
If I can be of any assistance to policyholders, please do not hesitate to contact me at 727-847-8076.
New Port Richey
The writer, a former state senator and representative, is the Pasco County tax collector.
A sad commentary
So, according to one Boston father (“Family income not a factor: Students eat free,” Nation & World, Sept. 7), now that the government is feeding his son two meals a day, he has “one less weight and one less burden” in his life. Feeding one’s child is a “burden?” I find this to be a horribly sad commentary on the state of the American family. Has this father no pride?
John S.V. Weiss
Bring Tebow home
I agree with the writer of Monday’s letter who says the Bucs should sign Tim Tebow. In addition to his Paul Hornung analogy, imagine the immediate ticket sales this would generate. I can see a full stadium for home games with a minimum-salaried player who would love to be home in Florida. Get him before the Jags figure it out.