Red light cameras make driving safer | May 8, letter
Red light cameras are a hazard
Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, suggests our critique of red light camera studies is flawed and that the IIHS camera study is valid when concluding cameras reduce crashes communitywide. While he questions our research integrity, facts allow for concluding Lund is incorrect, as explained below.
• Our analysis reviewed four of seven red light camera studies that were identified as the best research by a 2007 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration compendium. We also reviewed a fifth study, which was the IIHS study of camera use in Oxnard, Calif., even though it was not identified as one of the best research studies.
• Among these five studies, three adhered to scientific research methods and found cameras are associated with increases in crashes and injuries. Red light cameras are hazardous because they alter driving behavior in ways that are known to increases crashes, e.g., abrupt stops.
• The remaining two studies (one was the IIHS study) violated sound research methods, yet the studies continue to be referenced by camera proponents. Lund failed to mention that we replicated the IIHS study and our criticisms are now published in the same journal (American Journal of Public Health) online under the title "Analysis Violates Principles of Sound Research and Public Health Evaluation" (available at http://ajph.aphapublications.org/cgi/eletters/92/11/1822).
It appears the IIHS study attempted to attribute the pre-existing time trend of declining red light running crashes to camera use. In their study, the intersection approaches with cameras represented only 2 percent of all approaches in Oxnard listed as "camera" approaches, and the remaining 98 percent of "camera" approaches in their study were signalized approaches that did not have a camera. This hides any increase in crashes at actual camera intersections.
Lund failed to mention that there was no significant decrease in total crashes, despite the methods used. Instead, the findings were incorrectly reported in their publication, creating the appearance of a significant decrease in total crashes when no such decrease occurred, as evidenced in our replication.
Contrary to Lund's opinion, our research is independent as it is not funded by any outside agency or special interest. Our critique differentiated valid camera research from invalid research, something the general public does have the ability to do. In contrast, the IIHS is funded by auto insurance companies.
Barbara Langland Orban, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of Health Policy and Management, USF College of Public Health, Tampa
Voters, be prepared
Florida residents must understand the importance of registering or re-registering to vote in the upcoming primary election. The deadline for the primary registration is July 26 with the primary vote held on Aug. 24. The deadline for the general election registration is Oct. 4 with the general vote held on Nov. 2.
In the primary election you must be registered in the party of your candidate of choice. This is the most important of the two elections. If you like a candidate and wish to vote for him/her in the general election you must first make sure he/she wins in the primary.
I strongly urge all residents of Florida to register or re-register by July 26 and vote in the primary on Aug. 24. Do the research on the person you favor. Find a tea party near you, go to the meetings and listen to the candidates. Research their websites for the results of the vetting process. Most tea parties will not suggest whom to vote for but will provide information on where each candidate stands on important issues.
As Fox News says, "We inform, you decide." Please do not rely solely on local newspapers or the broadcast media for candidate information.
Larry Biddle, Lady Lake
U.S. Senate race
Remember the Libertarian
As the voters of our state begin to focus more closely on the upcoming fall elections, it is critical that all media understand that the U.S. Senate race involves more than three people.
Alexander Snitker is running for the office as a Libertarian. He has become the first Libertarian to make the statewide ballot for the U.S. Senate in the state of Florida and is gaining a lot of support. Please ensure that any upcoming articles about the race mention Alexander Snitker in them as a candidate. It is responsible journalism.
Greg Jaghab, Tampa
A young conservative gives hope to this 'ol liberal | May 13, Connie Schultz column
A more compassionate way
I'd like to comment on Connie Schultz's perspective of young Kyle Robbins' view of "compassionate conservatism," and offer why I think this gives her "hope" as a liberal. Schultz quotes Kyle as saying that he comes from a "privileged background" but that doesn't stop him from seeing "the 60-year-old guy driving a broken-down car and delivering Papa John's pizza and not feel bad. Being conservative doesn't mean I can't look at him and think, 'At his age, he shouldn't have to do that.' "
This comment would make most liberals giddy to be sure because it insinuates some sort of entitlement to this 60-year-old so he wouldn't have to stoop to "pizza delivery boy." Entitlements mean more government involvement, which in the minds of liberals means problem solved: The 60-year-old no longer has to deliver pizzas and instead gets a paycheck from social services funded by taxes on, ironically, Papa John's and other small businesses, giving him no incentive to work and be a productive member of society.
Compassionate conservatives on the other hand would say: "Let's lower the gas tax so this guy can lower his costs." "Let's lower Papa John's taxes so this guy can have a better paycheck." "Let's build trade so Papa John's costs are lower and people can afford to buy more pizzas." "Let's enable local charities and faith organizations so this guy can get the food and other help he needs so he can be a productive member of society."
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for life. Which is more compassionate?
Aaron Brodsky, Tampa
National Day of Prayer
Try some tolerance
I'm an atheist. There, I said it. What I do not understand is all the turmoil over Good Friday, Christmas and the National Day of Prayer. The Constitution of the United States says fairly clearly that: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." That simply means that the United States government shall not mandate a state sponsored religion (think Church of England). It also says that freedom of religious expression cannot be hindered.
While I have no religious convictions, I understand that it brings comfort for those who do, and is an important part of their life. I'm happy for them, and I will sit quietly during an invocation.
All these "turbo atheists" need to clam up. They have no right to try to force their lack of faith on the vast majority of Americans who are faithful. I have no problem with an invocation before a race, commission meeting or any other public function. These are Americans exercising their First Amendment rights. The turbo atheists have their First Amendment rights also, but not to the point of denying everyone else theirs.
Tom Woolford, Beverly Hills
Claims pile up for jobs agency | May 6, story
I have to say that this informative piece is a prime example of what is wrong with some of the services provided to people in the county. Not to point any fingers, but when are they going to actually hire people who will do the job right? Integrity sees to be a lost concept in the government.
What should happen in the instance of the Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance is that anyone who was in a position to report this and did not should be terminated from employment. That concept should be applied to everyone, including the top executives at the time.
Overall, the TBWA does provide excellent services to people who take the time to use them. However, at any given time during the day you can stop by their offices and clearly see that a lot of the people employed there are just going through the motions. There is no passion to help, teach, mentor and develop others.
I suggest that the current administration re-evaluate the personnel that they have. Look at the standards and develop a current standard appropriate to the economic times. And then hold the employees to these standards. Just because a person has been there for a set period of time does not mean that he is the best qualified to do the job.
Bring back the basics to this organization, hire motivated people who have integrity and maintain their values. There are a lot of qualified people out there who would be more than glad to work there and make a difference in the community.
Robert Ramirez, Riverview