Houston police pressured Rice University professor Robert Stein to alter his data and methods while performing a study on car accidents that occurred at Houston intersections containing red light cameras. By installing these red light cameras, officials hoped to prevent car accidents caused by running red lights.
In an email he wrote to Houston Police, Stein warned that his study began to determine that red light cameras were not lowering car accident statistics, unlike what was previously thought going into the study. Stein had found that by using more complex methods, this was becoming more and more clear.
Our firm’s experienced car accident lawyers are usually in favor of all things dedicated to automobile accident prevention and keep people from needing medical treatment because they got minor or catastrophic injuries out on the road. One thing we are not for is fudging the truth, but that apparently was not the case in a Houston-based study on red light cameras.
Police responded by telling Stein that he was wrong to use complex methods (the simpler methods produced more favorable results that pointed to a reduction in auto accidents at these intersections) and demanded that he reexamine each car accident again. The city then attempted to bury Stein’s initial findings before two attorneys fought to get them released.
“While Stein, at first, seemed to have leaned toward the police, he rejected most of their attempts to change his report,” said Randall L. Kallinen, one of the lawyers. “He did however mislead the public through the report and to the press when he said accidents were increasing citywide when he knew for a fact they were decreasing citywide.”
Houston police documents show that there was a 17% decrease in car accidents from 2004 to 2008. There are also reports that show that red light cameras may actually increase car accident statistics, and there have also been instances of lawmakers looking to sacrifice driver safety for photo ticket profit.
Our auto accident attorneys are on the fence about red light cameras. If they are proven to lower car accident statistics, then they are all for them. Yet as of now, there is a lot of conflicting information surfacing in their regard. If these cameras were installed with monetary gains as the main goal — and not reducing auto accidents — then that is inexcusable.
Even in this poor economy, when should money ever be a priority over roadway safety?
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