ENDORSEMENT: A chance to end Aurora’s red-light camera scam; vote NO on Referendum 3I

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EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this endorsement wrongly advised that a “yes” vote would end the red-light-camera program. A “no” vote ends the program, and we advise voters to vote NO on Referendum 3I.

The time has come for voters to put the brakes on Aurora’s scammy red-light photo camera program.

Aurora and a growing number of Colorado towns and cities have been boosting the number of these odious devices set up at intersections everywhere.

Ballot question is somewhat confusing. A NO vote ends the red-light camera program in Aurora.

The red-light tickets the program generates is no small deal. Aurora regularly issues more than 60,000 of them a year, raking in about $3.4 million. A lot of the cash from these programs goes to the companies that lease the systems to governments eager to use them. These glowing cash cows have become big, big money for communities across the state.

It’s the multi-billion industry hawking these systems that provides “data” to cities, showing how much safer intersections are that install them. But there are no independent, credible studies showing they do anything more than create revenue streams for cities, and in many cases, inflict new dangers on motorists and pedestrians. Analyses completed by police are interesting, but they’re far from convincing that these devices do much good, and they can do serious harm.

Here are some facts:

• Intersections that are redesigned or change yellow-light length are made much more safer and see far fewer accidents than intersections installing red-light cash cows. About 80 percent of red-light runners run the light within the first second of a red light, according to studies completed by traffic departments in Texas and California. Those states showed a reduction of about 70 percent of red-light violations just by increasing yellow-light times by three seconds or less.

• Cities who use these robot-camera devices give them priority over traffic-light synchronization, which is one of the most effective ways to reduce car crashes.

• The delay between the offense and the punishment is often weeks long. A cop pulling over a driver and issuing a ticket has an immediate impact on a driver. Everyone knows what seeing a cop car does to everyone within eye-shot. But just another bill in the mail, easily avoided by savvy residents, does nothing to change driver behavior.

• These systems only focus on one type of scofflaw. They do nothing to stop or prevent reckless, careless and dangerous drivers, which cause the majority of crashes everywhere.

Since Aurora can’t see past the cash, ballot referendum 3I helps with that. It’s unlikely anyone who’s looked closely at these systems would keep them if they cost the city money or even if they were revenue neutral. Safer streets and ticketing dangerous drivers are important goals. Red-light cameras don’t get us there, and voters should end them. Vote NO and put this to an end.