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    jcwconsult and that link leads to some others that break down the data by categories. 1) Fatalities includes all user groups. 2) Crash rates are generally parallel with fatality rates.

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association



    It is necessary to have decent throughput on urban roads so that cities can exist commercially. It is not a mistake to design roads to handle the actual levels of traffic they need to carry.

    Good engineers take account of all the risks and benefits for all road users.

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association



    Yes. There have been dozens of studies on increased freeway speed limits from 55 to 65 after 1987. States that went to 65 had greater reductions in their fatality rates than states retaining 55 limits. After 1995 when the National Maximum Speed Limit was fully repealed, states no longer had to post 55 on urban freeways. Many increased them to match the actual traffic speeds and safety was not compromised.

    It varies slightly, but on freeways if you estimate a 1 mph increase in 85th speeds for each 5 mph increase in the posted limit, you will be right or very close most of the time. I know of 2 examples where a +15 on the posted limit got +4 on the 85th percentile speeds.

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association



    I notice that San Francisco is not on your list of communities that banned red light cameras. That’s because they work here. I don’t really care about all the other data from other places. Until you show me that they do not work here, for which you have absolutely no data, this is not a conversation you should be having on this site. Please – come back with data from San Francisco, or go away.



    gneiss: My first question would be: Whose statistics and analysis are being quoted? Los Angeles officials had lots of data showing their program resulted in lower crash rates and fewer injuries. Independent analysis showed it simply was not true.

    Data from the Philadelphia Parking Authority which runs their program shows big safety improvements. Investigative reporters got data from the Philadelphia Police Department which does not share in the camera revenue that showed higher crash rates at camera intersections, both in 2005 when the program was new and in 2011 when it was up for renewal.
    Data from the state in Florida showed about a 12% higher crash rate at cameras intersections.

    For what it is worth, here are the 69 CA communities that have ended red light camera programs or banned them before any were used. Anaheim,
    Bell Gardens, Belmont, Berkeley, Burlingame, City of Orange, Compton,
    Corona, Costa Mesa, Cupertino, East LA, El Cajon, El Monte, Emeryville,
    Escondido, Fairfield, Fresno, Fullerton, Gardena, Glendale, Grand
    Terrace, Hayward, Highland, Indian Wells, Inglewood, Irvine, LA County, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Lancaster, Loma Linda, Long Beach, City of Los Angeles, Maywood, Montclair, Moreno Valley, Murrieta, Newport Beach, Oakland, Oceanside, Paramount, Pasadena, Poway, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, Redwood City, Riverside, Rocklin, Roseville, Rowland Heights, San Bernardino, San Carlos, San Diego, San Juan Capistrano, San Rafael, *Santa Ana July 2015*, Santa Fe Springs, Santa Maria, Santa Rosa, South Gate, South San Francisco, South Whittier, Union City, Upland, Walnut, Westminster, Whittier, Yuba City, Yucaipa.

    *cities where cameras operate until the end of their current contract on the dates noted* 42 plan to continue at this point.

    The entire state of New Jersey is camera free as of December 16. Cameras have lost 32 of 35 public votes, and by over 70% in the 4 votes in 2014. Red light cameras are a hated and dying industry.

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association


    SF Guest

    Mr. Walker, I’m curious to know when the freeway speed limit was raised from 55 mph to 65 mph did most drivers stay within the 85th percentile speed?



    You do understand the most important principle, that the streetscape defines the actual speeds. If you want actual 85th speeds of 25, then the road must be designed so most drivers do not feel safe and comfortable above 25 mph.

    The major reason that smooth flow with reduced variance for ALL roads helps for ALL users is the predictability of the flow. It is idiotic and counter productive to have 25 mph signs to lie to pedestrians and cyclists on roads where the actual 85th percentile speeds are 35 or even 40 mph. If cars are really coming at 35 or 40 mph – tell the vulnerable users the truth so they exercise caution.

    Our reduced fatality rates ARE due to safer cars AND safer roadway environments AND in many places correct traffic safety engineering, AND more education on things like DUI, AND the use by cyclists and pedestrians of more visible clothing or other visibility devices – particularly at night, etc. Safety is a very complex issue to maximize.

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association



    “You might also note that 2013′s fatality rate of 1.1 fatalities per 100
    million vehicle miles traveled is the lowest in history, down 78% since I
    got my first license in 1960.”

    1) can you give a citation? Is this for occupants of vehicles, or does it include other road users.

    2) That’s the fatality rate. Is there data on *crash* rate? Fatality rates are influenced not only by the number of crashes, but the survivability of crashes. Occupants of vehicles have seen a reduced fatality rate due to the increased size of their vehicles, airbags,etc. When you got your license in 1960 seat belt use was not mandatory. These fatality reducing factors do not apply to pedestrians and cyclists.



    Your contention that “traffic safety engineers want the best results for all categories”. They do not. They have been advocates for faster motorist speeds and greater throughput at intersections for decades. The only reason why speed cameras are on the table is because “traffic safety engineers” have consistently over engineered roadways to forgive motorist mistakes at the expense of other road users. If they had actually done their job properly, then we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.



    Do you have any evidence that this “scam” is being perpetrated in San Francisco? The red light camera at Fell and Masonic has been instrumental in reducing injuries to cyclist and pedestrians. Can you please tell my why it should be removed if it’s preventing serious injuries?



    I’m more concerned with pedestrian safety engineering.

    As you note elsewhere, streetscape changes how fast drivers think a safe speed is. I’m well aware of the 85% method…build a street with wide open sight lines and everyone will drive like hell. Measure that and call it the law. And the less invulnerable will learn to avoid it. SAFETY!!

    I still posit that ‘safe’ exists outside of being tied down to ‘smoothest’ traffic flows, speed variance, and all the other annoyances that entitlement brings with it.

    Wait 2013 had the lowest-rate-of-fatalities-per-mile-traveled? Down since the grand old 60′s? Must have been all those red-light and speed cameras in the 60′s that kept things from working well then? (More likely it was the improvements in safety of cars to the passengers inside them.)



    It is true that if you want reduced severities for pedestrians and cyclists, you need lower ACTUAL speeds, something that cannot be obtained by just painting lower numbers on the signs.

    And the NMA plus virtually every traffic engineer wants lower total crashes, injuries and fatalities for ALL road user groups — not just vehicle drivers.

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association



    Lower ACTUAL speeds can reduce crashes and their severities. Lower posted speed limits without engineering changes to the roadways to reduce the actual speeds tend to raise crashes.

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association



    Not correct, Mr. Riessen. Traffic safety involves ALL types of crashes, injuries and fatalities. Traffic safety engineers want the best results for all categories.

    One thing that pedestrian and bicycle advocates need to learn and accept is that the posted speed limit has almost no effect on the actual 85th percentile speeds. You can raise or lower the posted limits by up to 15 mph and the 85th speeds will change by no more than 3 mph, usually by 1 mph or less. And sometimes an increased limit gets lower speeds, along with sometimes a lowered limit gets higher actual speeds.

    There are two effective ways to reduce the actual travel speeds. 1) Have 24/7 enforcement which no city can afford to do. Note that very regular enforcement has almost no effect on speeds. 2) Degrade the roadway environment so that drivers who formerly felt safe and comfortable at up to for example 35 mph, now feel safe and comfortable at up to only 25 mph.

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association



    A good question, SFnative74. Basically you won’t find red light cameras were the signals are engineered properly and where the enforcement rules avoid ticketing safe drivers – because they lose money. Most red light cameras lease from major for-profit camera companies for $4,000 to $6,000 per month per camera. If the yellows are timed correctly, cameras won’t record enough straight through violations for the total fines to even pay for the costs of the cameras. There is one other red light camera scam, to ticket safe slow rolling right on red turns or stopping just over the line. Federal research by NHTSA shows that right on red turns, with or without a full stop, are involved in only 0.06% of all crashes with injuries or fatalities. Right on red tickets are almost purely about money, not safety.

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association



    You are assuming improperly designed signal timings, which of course is unacceptable. What do you think of red light cameras at intersections that have proper signal timing?



    I’m not saying I don’t agree with your points good sir! I’m merely highlighting the fact so folks don’t miss that you’re a LIFE MEMBER!



    Almost all red light camera tickets are for violations of less than one second into the red caused by cities deliberately setting the yellow intervals about one second too short for the actual perception/reaction times and approach speeds of at least 85% of the drivers. Note that simply increasing the yellow intervals by one second will almost always reduce violation rates by 70% to 90%, but cities don’t make this safety change because it guts camera profits.

    Almost all the serious crashes are caused by drivers who enter intersections after the light has been red for at least two and more usually five to nine seconds. Most of those drivers causing the crashes are severely distracted by something, DUI, (legal or illegal) drug impaired, fleeing police, failed to see emergency vehicles, etc. — causes that getting a ticket in the mail several weeks later will NOT prevent.

    Red light cameras are “sold” to city councils and justified to the public on the basis of an apples to watermelons comparison that is completely invalid. They are a scam.

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association



    Running a red light is not a “small technical foul.” I’ve been struck and seriously injured by a red light runner. Have you?



    Lower speeds reduce crashes mostly because you are able to respond to and avoid colliding with other drivers or objects you might not be expecting in your path of travel:

    It is one thing to argue against increased camera use (though I agree with its use to ticket reckless drivers), but to argue that lower speeds do not make a significant difference in the number and severity of crashes is asinine.



    My views match those of the Michigan State Police, MDOT, and most county road commissions. Michigan has been correcting hundreds of under-posted limits for more than a decade – with excellent results.

    There ARE proven engineering ways to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities. The problem in teaching them is that some of the solutions are counter-intuitive.

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association



    You might want to read some of the research by traffic safety engineers, roymeo. I agree that a lack of safety can easily be caused by a single driver – independent of the behavior of others – and no laws or rules can ever prevent such incidents.

    But what we can do is use known and many times proven traffic safety engineering principles that tend to produce the smoothest and safest traffic flows. One is setting the speed limit so that 85% of the drivers are at or below that speed, only 15% are above, and a very high proportion (75% to 90% usually) are in the 10 mph band called the Pace which is usually the 10 mph band ending with the 85th speed (+/- 1 or 2 mph). This tends to reduce speed variance, unnecessary passing, lane changes, tailgating, and aggressive driving. A few of the faster drivers slow a bit because they perceive the limit is reasonable and the flow is efficient, some of the slower drivers speed up a bit to reduce variance, and safety is usually improved.

    You might also note that 2013′s fatality rate of 1.1 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled is the lowest in history, down 78% since I got my first license in 1960.

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association



    You are a serious student of avoiding traffic tickets. And that’s it.



    Absolutely. The biggest hole in James C. Walker’s, Life Member- National Motorists Association argument is that his perspective – as a Life Member – National Motorists Association – is that the only person for whom safety is important is the driver of the automobile. It is very well researched that the severity of an injury to a cyclist or pedestrian goes up with impact speed.



    An asset here for serious students of traffic safety research is the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute’s library. I do NOT like many of UMTRI’s research papers, but the library has a copy of almost everything ever published on the issues.

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association



    “safest 85 percentile” is an oxymoron. Safety is a condition that exists independent of the typical behavior of users.



    University of Michigan – enough said.


    Greg Riessen

    The problem with Mr Walker’s 70-year-old traffic safety argument (regarding setting speed limits at the 85th-percentile observed speed) is that this only represents motorist/passenger safety, by trying to prevent rear-end collisions. Mr Walker should get with the times and consider pedestrian safety too. It’s not too late to become a life member of a pedestrian advocacy group!



    I wish we could create safe streets without more government surveillance.


    Thomas Rogers

    Re: curb ramps- at least they’re not blaming street name misspellings for the cost overruns! I finally registered an easier URL for my Flickr set, BTW:



    Actually, DAT, I started studying these issues about 20 years before the NMA was founded in 1982 – when I was in my freshman year at the University of Michigan in 1962/63.

    Most of what the public believes and the “safety lobby” promotes about speed limits is false. The science has been known for 70+ years. My oldest printed reference to setting the safest speed limits is the 1941 National Safety Council Report on Speed which says to post the limits between the 80th and 90th percentile speeds and to NOT take the surveys when heavy enforcement has been recent because the numbers won’t be true.

    If you would like to learn more about the issue, see our website which has a lot of the unbiased research on speed limits and other motorists issues, research done by groups that are NOT in multi-billion dollar revenue stream from predatory tickets.

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association



    I agree. Get rid of the cameras and instead install speed bumps. This will lower the 85% speed – the safest speed – dramatically because while motorists may not worry about running over pedestrians, speed bumps can damage their car.











    Jamison Wieser

    (a) Jamison is down with TEP TEP TEP!

    You know you just hate me because I know what I’m talking about.



    Here is one uk town busted lying

    The Association of British Drivers (ABD) fought with the camera partnership for release of crash data under the Freedom of Information Act. According to the documents, the crashes cited in the formal justification for the placement of cameras on the M4 include:
    an accident where a pedestrian fell from a bridge
    an accident where a gust of wind pushed one truck into another
    several tire blowout accidents
    a crash where a car drove the wrong way
    According to Smith, the accident data show that only about four percent of accidents on the M4 were actually caused by exceeding a posted limit. The documents rated the most and least important contributory factors as a percentage of accidents on the M4, as follows:
    Inattention: 28%
    Failure to judge others’ path or speed (i.e. poor lane-changing): 28%
    Lack of judgment of own path: 17%
    Fatigue: 14%
    Careless, thoughtless or reckless behavior:14%
    Excess speed for conditions: 14%
    Exceeding posted speed limit: 4.2% (SafeSpeed estimate)
    “I would very much like to hear the Camera Partnership explain exactly how it is supposed to be possible that their cameras reduced crashes by over sixty percent when only about four percent of crashes involved exceeding a speed limit,” Smith said. “It does not make sense.”



    The ONLY result from speed cameras is revenue, with most of it to be pilfered from the wallets of safe drivers in areas where the posted limits are set lower than the safest 85th percentile levels. SAY NO !!

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association



    Behavior is changed with tickets from officers, not cameras.

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association



    Not counting that France had one of the worst dui problems in the 90 and during the last decade reversed that. Don’t put it past scameras supporters to take “credit” on crashes that no speed camera would ever stop. This occurs in Wiltshire U.K. .

    Voters are not really keen on scameras. Voters in Cleveland and maple heights oh and Sierra vista az BANNED speed cameras in 2014.

    Heck voters revolted on “school” zone scameras and the officials repealed their use in Nassau NY.

    Read more on the speed scamera scam md site that has documented the scam their
    Ban the cams on Facebook
    Camerafraud on Facebook



    The SFMTA wants REVENUE – the first, last, and ONLY GOAL for speed cameras. Speed cameras produce profits above their own high costs of operation ONLY when used in areas where the posted limits are set well below the safest levels, the ACTUAL 85th percentile speeds of free flowing traffic under good conditions.

    Speed cameras are a money grab racket, just as red light cameras are a money grab racket. Both types produce profits ONLY with deliberately improper traffic safety engineering and predatory enforcement rules to give most tickets to safe drivers for small technical fouls that endangered no one. If governments were not the for-profit business partners of the for-profit camera companies, ticket cameras might be investigated under racketeering statutes as ongoing criminal enterprises. See our website for how the scams work with deliberately bad engineering that sometimes reduces safety.

    And the claim of limited use and small fines is only to get the scams started. Later look for huge numbers of money grab speed cameras and fines similar to the $500 ones for red light cameras. CA residents need to contact their state Representatives and Senators to say ABSOLUTELY NO to speed cameras. Contact info is here:

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association


    Jamison Wieser

    In reality, the crazy and never-justified-anywhere (but TEP TEP TEP!) 22/55 reroute is purely about a deal that Willie Brown cut with Catellus, the developer of Missi…

    In the story is a link to the study with the justifications for the new route if you’re interested in facts.



    In the interests of completeness, there are also studies showing that cameras do not reduce accidents or speeding, such as this one in Arizona:

    My understanding was that the cameras themselves are the deterrent factor. The ones I’ve seen in Europe are clearly signposted, and even marked on some maps. So if they do have a slowing effect, it is very localized.

    There’s also an issue that if a cop writes you a ticket for speeding, you know about it, and typically slow down for the rest of your trip. But you could in theory accumulate many camera tickets on a single long trip without realizing it. (The speed cameras do not flash the way the red light cameras do).

    Finally Europe has a big advantage for this in that the registered driver cannot claim that he wasn’t driving in the way an American driver can. In Europe, if the owner claims he wasn’t driving, he must name who was. In the US, there is no such requirement to incriminate someone. This means that the US cameras must record license plate and a clear face shot. In Europe, they only need the license plate. So the US cameras need to be more sophisticated, and more tickets will get thrown out if challenged, especially if the driver is wearing, say, a baseball cap and dark glasses.



    As I always say regarding cameras, they need to be ubiquitous with relatively cheap fines.

    Not only does that knock the legs out from opposition but it’s more effective in changing behavior.


    Andy Chow

    It was built in an era where environmental issues were not major concerns and where mobility was paramount, and that racism and classism were even more acute. BART was conceived as a way to get around the traffic problem (besides building more freeways in the meantime) so park and ride was a part of the deal.

    At that time we had more urban focused transit including the Key System and a larger streetcar network in SF. The Key System and the Geary streetcars were gone when BART was being planned. Just keeping those to me would’ve been a good thing because we are only able to replace some of that today (like the T line).



    To avoid the extension distraction, Orinda and Lafayette stations also employ the same ethos (that of catering to park-and-ride) North Concord does and are original stations. They’re also on the busiest BART line yet have some of the lowest daily numbers (in the 2-3000s daily).

    Whether extension or original station, BART has proven time and again to lose out when it spends lots of money (and land) developing out parking options for surrounding lower-density middle-on-up-income user bases at the expense of all other alternatives or even hybrid alternatives.

    Lafayette: original station, same problems as North Concord/Martinez:


    Andy Chow

    For the record I am against most BART extension projects.



    Yeah, that’s what I was thinking–that’s not BART’s problem that such people have hangups about transit. Especially given the diminishing returns BART actually gets the more it bends over backwards with resources to entice such (systemwide) relatively small numbers of people.



    Except for when driving-to-transit yields this.

    The $508 million (<– in 1995 dollars. That's $787 million in inflation-adjusted 2014 dollars) that BART spent on the North Concord extension/station/parking was justified by forecasts of at least 5k riders per day. Yet today it only has about 2500 riders daily, which gives it the dubious distinction of actually being the least used BART station in the entire system despite being on the busiest line and despite having one of the highest station costs.

    North Concord/Martinez is the perfect example of the we-need-to-attract-middle-and-upper-middle-class-drivers philosophy which has been a very expensive exercise in diminishing-returns black-hole expenses for BART over the decades.



    “even driving to transit is better than driving all the way”

    only in a vacuum. What else could BART do with that money? Would it return better?