Can "Charter Cities" Change the World? A Q&A With Paul Romer on the Freakonomics Blog.
A proposal that would allow up to 40 speed cameras to be installed in New York City is close to passage in Albany. Though traffic cameras arguably offer better enforcement and safer streets, most proposals court controversy among voters. Too often, voters see the cameras as enforcement gimmicks that raise revenues for governments and the private firms that often supply and manage the cameras.
In a previous post, we argued that traffic camera proposals should follow the principle of coupling better measurement with lower stakes. If cameras allow a city to observe more traffic violations, the punishments need to induce safe driving can be less severe. If cities use technology to increase the chances of getting caught but leave punishments unchanged, they should expect resistance from residents.
The proposal before the New York State Legislature looks as though it abides, at least to some degree, by the principle of coupling better measurement with lower stakes. From The New York Times article:
Only those who exceed the city’s speed limit, typically 30 miles per hour, by more than 10 miles per hour would be given tickets, receiving a $50 fine. For those who exceed the limit by more than 30 m.p.h., the fine doubles to $100. Drivers would not be docked points on their licenses.
These fines are not only lower than those for traditional speeding tickets in New York, they’re also less severe than the rates for camera-captured violations in Chicago where drivers in the 6 – 10 mph over range will receive a $35 fine and those in the 11 mph or over range will receive a $100 fine. What’s more, drivers caught speeding on NYC cameras will not receive points on their licenses, the accumulation of which can lead to higher insurance premiums or suspension of a driver’s license.