I was against red light cameras (and still am! $2 million TN dollars went to TX because of Redflex!) and I sure am against speed cameras. Speed trapping makes roads dangerous! Roads should be predictable. We don’t need people slamming on their brakes for police cars and cameras. Sometimes to avoid a problem it is safer to speed up then slow down even if that means hopping above the speed limit. An officer can see, "that truck was about to sideswipe him and he avoided it by speeding up." A camera cannot make that judgment.
I often drive fast on the Interstate. It is safe because the relative speed of traffic is the same and visibility can be several miles. I don’t drive recklessly. There is a huge difference between driving fast and driving recklessly. A slow driver can drive recklessly. In town, I tend to drive the speed limit. I recognize the lights have been timed such that you will make little gain by speeding in town. The few seconds you shorten your trip by speeding is not worth the danger you place pedestrians and other drivers in within the unpredictable confines of busy roads.
Speed cameras and red light cameras are profit tools for public, tax funded law enforcement. We don’t need them! We fix traffic problems through better civil engineering (narrow roads, curves in roads, reduction of traffic signs, removal of speed limits, etc.) and through education. Could you imagine the impact it would have if a police officer pulled you over for speeding and instead of giving you a ticket brought a video player to your car and forced everyone in the car to watch a 15 minute educational video on how speeding wastes fuel, puts unnecessary wear and tear on the vehicle, places people at unnecessary risk, and reduces travel time by less than a few minutes than staying under the speed limit? The 15 minute delay per incident may be reason enough to slow down. But even if the message did not reach the driver, perhaps it would get through to some of the passengers and then you’ve made a difference. Will a bill in the mail have that same impact?
UPDATE: Michael Silence has put up a poll to see if Knoxville wants speed cameras. When I took it, 86% said no.
Update: UT to probe ethics of using traffic cameras. Think about the other cameras we can have in our future "beeeep Our facial recognition software has identified you as Jane Doe. You have been standing in the same spot for 5 minutes and one second which constitutes loitering under ordinance w37704. A fine of $45 has automatically been assessed to your cell phone bill."
Related: Google is mapping Knoxville. How will you be immortalized for the world to view? Do speed cameras change driving habits? See Driving Patterns – Let the Ass Merge.