August 26: Optotraffic is happy to serve several jurisdictions in Ohio. Along with law enforcement and safety organizations in that state, we are very concerned about a measure before the state legislature to ban all automatic traffic enforcement technologies. Yesterday, a Columbus Dispatch editorial brought a great deal of sense to the debate. The editorial supports a proposal that would establish state-wide criteria for automatic enforcement. Currently each jurisdiction sets its own regulations for enforcement. Instead of a complete ban on an effective and valuable law enforcement tool, the proposed legislation establishes criteria for local governments and for vendors such as Optotraffic. We think that this statewide approach make the most sense. Here’s a link to the Dispatch editorial: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/editorials/2013/08/08/yielding-to-sense.html
August 19: Optotraffc’s focus in Maryland is school zones and we feel that this should always remain a priority. But it is also obvious that there are other areas that simply call out for aggressive enforcement. Recently we read about a short stretch of road in Montgomery County, Maryland that has been the site of 20 pedestrian crashes including one fatality. Speed cameras are not an option on this road because they are limited to school and construction zones in Maryland. The alternative being adopted by the community is expanded police presence and volunteers who will stand near the road warning pedestrians of the dangerous conditions. Wouldn’t automatic traffic enforcement be a better option?
August 12: A principal focus for us at Optotraffic is making school zones safer. That’s why we follow the activities of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. That Partnership is taking part in a much larger effort this October in Washington, DC. It is a summit meeting bringing together advocated from throughout the country to discuss expanding public and government support to create more walkable communities. One aspect of the meeting sponsored by America Walks is a Walk the Hill Day to bring the message to legislators about the need to preserve pedestrian safety programs that may be in danger of elimination. For more information, visit: https://www.signup4.net/Public/ap.aspx?EID=20133783E&TID=DNSloQeLHFN%2bWZ8p3fOAOw%3d%3d
August 5: Optotraffic’s principal partners are cops on the street trying to enforce the law. Given that relationship, it’s no surprise that one of our favorite publications is Police Chief Magazine. A recent article in that publication by Earl Sweeney, the chair of the International Chief’s of Police Association’s Highway Safety Committee is vital reading for local law enforcement and public officials. After years of decline, highway fatalities are again on the rise and the reason is speeding. Mr. Sweeney says, “The speeding storm is brewing” and goes into great detail about the causes. More important, however, is the steps he recommends for reversing the trend. Here’s the link: http://www.policechiefmagazine.org/magazine/index.cfm?fuseaction=display_arch&article_id=1001&issue_id=92006
July 29: Optotraffic doesn’t operate speed cameras in Akron, Ohio, although it does operate programs for law enforcement in other jurisdictions in that state. Nonetheless, we were struck by the balanced coverage in the Akron Beacon Journal about a bill in the Ohio legislature that seeks to ban all speed and red light cameras throughout the state. As the article explains, Akron deployed cameras after a child was killed near a school. The program operated as designed for more than four years and, according to local officials, has had a positive effect in reducing dangerous driving particularly near schools. The bill in the legislature would eliminate this deterrent and a proposed “compromise” that would allow speed cameras in school zones only when a police officer is present is also unworkable, according to city officials because there just aren’t enough officers who can be spared for this duty. Here’s a link to the article if you would like to read the details: http://www.ohio.com/news/state-bill-jeopardizes-akron-s-speed-camera-program-1.414846
July 25: In 2002 there was little doubt that France had the most dangerous highways in Europe. Even the nation’s president said so. The country was averaging 8,000 deaths per year and the public demanded that something be done to reduce the carnage. The government responded with a nationwide deployment of speed cameras and the result was dramatic. In 2010, the number of fatalities had fallen to 3,992 – half the deaths of just eight years earlier. An exhaustive report estimates that 15,193 lives were saved and more than 60,000 serious injuries prevented. That’s success and – on a local scale – it is the type of reduction in speeding and crashes that Optotraffic sees when it deploys cameras in this country.
July 19: It’s almost time again to send our children back to school. With an increase of children of all ages on the roads, traffic safety is more important than ever. Here at Optotraffic, our number one goal is to make sure your child’s trip to school is as safe as possible. Below is a list of resources for parents, teachers, policymakers and law enforcement on traffic safety. Please read each of them over and start a dialogue with your children, neighbors, law enforcement, school and municipal officials. And most importantly of all, have a safe and productive school year!
For parents: The National Safety Council has published a guide for talking to your kids about getting to school safely.
For Teachers: The NHTSA has developed a number of curriculum’s for teachers who want to teach children of all ages about walking to school safely.
For policy makers: The CDC has released its list of national strategies for Advancing Child Pedestrian Safety.
For law enforcement: The department of Homeland Security has put together a guide to obtaining funding and training for officers and departments who want to play a greater role in school safety.
July 8: Elmwood Place, Ohio is a suburb of Cincinnati with a serious speeding problem caused by commuters. To address the problem, the Village Council enacted legislation allowing for the deployment of Optotraffic speed cameras. Prior to deployment of speed cameras, the Village recorded more than 20,000 speeding violations in a two-week period – primarily in front of the community’s elementary school. Tragically, there was a traffic fatality in the Village in February 2011 and in May 2011. Two children were also severely injured by a motorist in the school zone.
Before the speed cameras were deployed, 39 percent of the vehicles passing the school were exceeding the speed limit. Once the cameras were deployed, that number fell to only 8 percent. Unfortunately, a county judge ordered enforcement to end. You guessed it. Now speeding is on the rise. One out of every five vehicles is speeding past the school. The good news is that the Village is seeking to overturn the judge’s decision so that the school zone can regain its protection.
June 24: The Royal Automobile Club of Britain recently released the results of its exhaustive nationwide study of the effectiveness of speed cameras in reducing collisions. The Daily Mail newspaper led the coverage of the report with the headline “Speed cameras ‘increase risk of serious or fatal crashes.’” The Guardian newspaper, in a much longer and more complete article, explained that actually the study examined 551 speed cameras and only 21 of those studied were worthy of further investigation because of an increase in collisions – not necessarily related to the speed cameras. As The Guardian pointed out, 530 of the sites represented a 96.2 percent success rate. On average, collisions decreased 27 percent nationwide where speed cameras were deployed. Here is the link to the article and extensive commentary: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/reality-check/2013/jun/07/reality-check-do-speed-cameras-reduce-serious-road-accidents
June 18: The next generation in automated speed enforcement is Optotraffic’s Silver Hawk(c) providing bi-directional, lane specific enforcement. It is a fully integrated and portable unit ideally suited for multi-lane, high traffic routes where manned speeding enforcement is most challenging.
The small but durable aluminum housing contains all the critical enforcement components including, patented “Above the Road” LIDAR speed sensors, command and control computers, advanced digital imaging, data storage devices and wireless communication links. Light and small, its design makes it easy to attach the unit to a typical utility street light pole enabling deployment or re-deployment within 24 hours. For more information, visit http://www.optotraffic.com/index.php/equipment/silver-hawk.