We all know we shouldn't mess with Texas. And Houston, Texans shouldn't mess around with statistics, because the folks running the show are going to come to any conclusions they want no matter what the statistics say. This is the easy part: a study of red light cameras in the city shows that accidents have actually increased at intersections with the cameras.

These are the parts that are open to interpretation: most intersections only have one camera looking at one (out of four) directions of traffic, but the accident rate went up for traffic in the other three unmonitored directions; and, in the one monitored direction, "accidents remained relatively flat or showed only a slight increase." What do you make of that?

Mayor Bill White and the study authors say the city in general is experiencing a swell in the number of collisions, and claim that collisions at the monitored intersections haven't risen as much as the wider municipal rate. Yet they have no data to back up an increase in citywide collisions, and no year-on-year accident data at intersections (let alone an explanation for the uptick). White said that a 40-percent year-on-year drop in red light citations in the month of October shows the program is working and keeping drivers more safe. Critics say that the program is nothing but a cash register for city government. The study's authors plan to study insurance industry findings to come up with more substantive conclusions.

[Source: Houston Chronicle]