What is it with these San Mateo Cities?
Last month, we reported on a mistake with a Red Light camera setup in San Mateo that resulted in the San Mateo Police Department throwing out nearly 1,000 red light tickets, totaling more than $500,000.
It has now come out that Daly City has also not been in compliance for a significant period of time.
Invalid Red Light Camera on John Daly Blvd
The approach on eastbound John Daly Blvd at Sheffield Dr. did not meet new state regulations that went into effect August 1, 2015.
Eastbound John Daly Blvd at Sheffield Dr.
This information hasn't hit the news yet - instead, the Daly City Police Department are quietly sending individuals letters in the mail. The Daly City PD is even going so far as to offer a refund of any traffic school tuition costs if an individual has already attended traffic school on one of these violations, in addition to the obvious refund of court fines and fees.
The Ryder Cup of the Roads
Is the European style roundabout a triumph of efficiency? Or compared to the good old American 4-way, a catastrophic circus of congestion?
Turns out that MythBusters has the answer.
The roundabout is far more effective at moving cars through an intersection than the traditional 4-way stop sign in the United States. In their experiment, MythBusters showed that the roundabout was nearly 20% more efficient.
Safer and More Fuel Efficient
Not only are roundabouts more efficient, but they are also safer and more fuel efficient too.
In studies across multiple countries that have switched from 4-way stops to roundabouts, there have been dramatic decreases in accidents and fatalities.
Why Are Roundabouts Safer?
As the diagrams below show, Roundabouts actually simplify many intersections and reduce the the number of collision points between both vehicles and vehicles, and vehicles and pedestrians.
Why So Few Roundabouts in the United States?
The advantages of the roundabout are clear. So why are there so few roundabouts in the United States? Is this another Metric System, and the American public are just not ready to make the jump?
Another suggestion: maybe the 4-way intersections make it easier to hand out citations and pull in more revenue?
If roundabouts remove the possibility of all these revenue making opportunities, why would the city government want to even think about removing them?
The smart people at Priceonomics published a very interesting article last year titled 'Is Every Speed Limit Too Low?'
It's a long article, but definitely worth a read. Their analysis concludes:
Speeding & Traffic Safety have a small correlation
Most limits are set based on historical speeds of how fast motorist actually drive on that stretch of road. Only 10% of drivers truly identify and drive at the limit.
Setting too slow a limit is unsafe
Frequently, accidents are caused not by a high average speed, but by the variance in traffic speeds. Setting too low a limit will result in high variance of speeds and more accidents.
Saudia Arabia got us all driving at 55mph
55mph is an arbitrary limit that was introduced during the 1970s oil crisis to conserve fuel. It has little, if anything, to do with actual safety considerations.
So why are limits so low?
One suggestion: "when speed limits are artificially low, it's easier to give out citations and pull in fine revenue".
“Arbitrary, unrealistic and nonuniform speed limits have created a socially acceptable disregard for speed limits.”
In its 1992 report, the U.S. Department of Transportation cautioned, “Arbitrary, unrealistic and nonuniform speed limits have created a socially acceptable disregard for speed limits.”
Priceonomics concludes: "It seems counterintuitive, but it’s a formula Americans should love: Raise speed limits, make roads safer."
What are the ethics for self-driving cars?
Two interesting events over the last two weeks sparked a debate in our office.
A Tesla on Autopilot got its first speeding ticket.
The Model S got stopped by the Florida Highway Patrol for doing 75mph in a 60mph zone. About 60,000 Model S vehicles have the sensors necessary for the autonomous-driving features.
Google self-driving car gets pulled over for driving too slowly
And then this week, a Google automated vehicle caused a traffic jam while travelling at just 24mph in a 35mph zone, causing police to pull the car over.
So what are the ethics of self-driving cars?
Both these events lead to an interesting debate in the office. What are the ethics of self-driving cars? Sometimes good judgment can compel us to act illegally. Should a self-driving vehicle get to make that same decision?
Both The Atlantic and the MIT Technology Review have two great articles on the topic.
If your self-driving car, drone or any autonomous transportation device got a ticket, don't forget to submit it today.
Al Jazeera America did a terrific piece of investigative journalism into Chicago’s red light traffic cameras.
A Mix of Corruption and Backroom Politics. Chicago Style.
City officials accepted over $2M in bribes to install red light cameras, and then shortened yellow light times to less than federal standards to catch more motorists and increase fines.
San Mateo Guilty of Incorrect Red Light Timings Too.
NBC uncovered the city did not follow new state regulations for red light cameras at two intersections. After questioning by NBC, the city has now thrown out nearly 1,000 Red Light Camera tickets.
Submit Your Red Light Camera Tickets Now.
If you received a red light camera ticket, don't forget to submit to Fixed. At $490 in fines, red light camera tickets are always worth fighting.
The BS of Red Light Cameras
We've written in the past about how Red Light cameras don't work at increasing intersection safety. In fact, the data suggests that Red Light Cameras actually INCREASE the accidents at an intersection.
The BS of the SFMTA
So why does an incompetent money-losing organization like the SFMTA keep clamoring for more Red Light Cameras that automate the extortion of $490 from a motorist's pocket?
They argue that it is to increase safety.
But if Red Light Camera's actually improved safety for the General Public, shouldn't it also apply to their own SFMTA drivers?
Of Course Not
With a little bit of detective work, we uncovered that in the last 3 months over 18 Red Light Camera tickets were issued to SFMTA and/or City of San Francisco vehicles.
Were those drivers reprimanded? Did they face the same fines that you and I face?
Of course not. A FOIA request to the SFMTA reveal that no action was taken against these drivers and that SFMTA keeps no record of these citations.
Zero of the safety rules that apply to you, should apply to us.
The SFMTA Stinks