NMA Email Newsletter: Issue #43

Travelers’ Rights Must Be Different Than Motorists’ Rights

AAA, formerly the American Automobile Association, promotes itself as an advocate for travelers’ rights, but their status as one of the nation’s largest automobile insurers clearly takes precedence over protecting the motoring public, or their membership.

AAA Carolinas published the following propaganda-laden piece in their GO magazine, with the headline, “Red-Light Cameras Get the Job Done”:

Red- light cameras reduce crashes at high-risk intersections. What is wrong with a law that saves lives and penalizes offenders?

North Carolina’s law said 90% of the fines collected had to go to fund schools, a fatal financial flaw. The cameras stopped functioning.

Critics argue red- light cameras increase rear-end collisions (about 1.8%) but fail to note a reduction in deadly intersection T-bone crashes.

A recent Federal Highway Administration study found: Red light running at intersections accounts for more than 1,000 traffic deaths annually and extended use reduces red light violations 40-50% and injury crashes by 25-30%.

The traffic safety Implications are irrefutable. It’s time to give a green light to red- light cameras in both states.

There is much to pick apart here – a favorite being the “fatal financial flaw” for photo enforcement programs in North Carolina – but let’s focus on the AAA statement that rear-end collisions increase a minuscule 1.8% at red-light camera intersections. Information currently on the website of the Federal Highway Administration, in “Red-Light Camera Q&As” (link), states that data from 132 intersections equipped with red-light cameras show an increase of rear-end crashes of 15%, and an increase in injuries from such crashes of 24%. There apparently is no need to have the facts get in the way of a good spin.

Why would AAA throw their full support behind the use of red-light cameras? For the same reason that the other auto insurers do – cameras rack up citations against motorists who rarely challenge the questionable circumstances under which many of the photo tickets are issued. Many of those citations include points against the drivers’ records which allow the insurance companies to automatically increase premiums, and therefore, profits.

The revenue motive by AAA and other auto insurance companies in supporting red-light cameras is, to borrow a word, irrefutable. And it is at the expense of the group they are supposedly advocating for: the traveling public.

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