Traffic Cameras: Road Safety Improvement?

While driving down the road the other day I noticed a traffic camera mounted near an intersection. I understand that these cameras are in place to reduce cost for cities and to also improve road safety, but I have to wonder do these stone faced (and colored) watchmen actually increase road safety or merely road paranoia?

On the positive side, this road camera presence reminds drivers to be alert and obey laws. In addition, police officers do not have to monitor these high traffic areas and can focus their services for other pertinent tasks. These cameras are also indisputable (being that the pictures capture drivers committing crimes) and do not require officers to pull over drivers to issue them tickets. Not to mention, you may actually look good in your picture.

On the negative side, from my experience, road cameras do command at least a marginal amount of attention. Attention that could be monitoring the intersection, the rear-view mirror, or the road ahead. I have to ask, what if a fellow motorist is following a driver closely and the light is about to turn red. Should the driver slam on their breaks and risk an accident or should they slide through the red light and take the ticket? I don’t know the right answer in this case but what I do know is that traffic cameras do raise an artificial awareness that would not otherwise exist when negotiating an intersection.

I see the benefits for the traffic cameras but I cannot deny the potential hazards for these cameras aswell.

What do you think, are traffic cameras a benefit or a determent to road safety?