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A response to unfounded criticisms of Burkey and Obeng (2004) made by the IIHS (2005)

A response to unfounded criticisms of Burkey and Obeng (2004) made by the IIHS (2005)

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Published by Ars Technica
A response to unfounded criticisms of Burkey and Obeng (2004) made by the IIHS (2005)
A response to unfounded criticisms of Burkey and Obeng (2004) made by the IIHS (2005)

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Published by: Ars Technica on Nov 15, 2013
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Munich Personal RePEc Archive
A response to unfounded criticisms of Burkey and Obeng (2004) made by theIIHS (2005)
Mark L. Burkey
North Carolina A&T State UniversityFebruary 2005Online at
MPRA Paper No. 36369, posted 7. February 2012 05:35 UTC
 A Response to Unfounded Criticisms of Burkey and Obeng (2004) Made by the IIHS (2005)
 by Mark L. Burkey
Department of Economics and Transportation/Logistics  NCA&T State University 1601 E. Market Street Greensboro, NC 27411
Abstract: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety mailed an essay written by Richard Retting and Sergey Kyrychenko (IIHS, 2005) to many universities and individuals where they accused my coauthor and me of being Junk Scientists. This has become a typical pattern for the IIHS, attacking every study that fails to find a benefit of Red Light Cameras, but never criticizing work that supports their beliefs. In this paper I defend my work against their claims, and pose the question: Who are the real junk scientists? February, 2005 The first two pages serve as a brief response to the false allegations by the IIHS (via Richard Retting and Sergey Kyrychenko). Details and documentation for each statement follow this brief introduction.
Brief Response
 It is surprising that an institution such as the IIHS resorts to name-calling when a project reports data that go against their deeply-held beliefs. If there are valid limitations of our work, we made every effort to point them out in the report. We welcome any additional valid criticism and suggestions. However, Retting and Kyrychenko (R&K)’s comments admit to one of only two explanations: 1) They are purposefully distorting our methods, or 2) They did not read and understand the methods and careful robustness checks that were done. They bring up three main objections to our work: 1)
 “…Burkey and Obeng treated data from intersections with and without cameras as if the cameras had been randomly assigned to their locations. In fact Greensboro officials installed cameras at intersections with higher crash rates…”
 Status Report 2005
 It is impossible for our report to give this impression. We dealt with this issue at length, and modeled it in two specific ways. First, we included many variables that account for these differences in crash rates. Second, in order to make sure that we had accounted for any additional unobserved heterogeneity, we ran a Fixed Effects model. This method tracks each intersection individually, allowing the Red Light Camera (RLC) variable to pick up only the effect of the RLC placement relative to the accident rate at these
same intersections
 (see last  page of the report). The model R&K use with contrived data is in no way related to our methods, and the data does not reflect the data in the tables in our report. Their suggestion of a RLCGROUP variable is unacceptable, and is demonstrated to give incorrect results in this document. Additionally, Greensboro officials installed cameras at both high and low accident locations. Many high accident locations did not receive RLCs. We discuss the non-random, non-experimental nature of our data at length in the report, and discuss its shortcomings. 2)
“Publicity and media coverage generally make drivers aware that a city is using red light cameras, not specifically which intersections have cameras. … By ignoring the spillover effect, the authors could obtain only a biased (low) estimate of red light camera effectiveness.”
R&K 2004
 NCGS § 160A-300.1b: Any traffic control photographic system installed on a street or highway must be identified by appropriate advance warning signs conspicuously posted not more than 300 feet from the location of the traffic control photographic system.
 In other words, drivers in North Carolina know exactly where the cameras are located. Additionally, we did not ignore the possibility of spillover effects, and discussed this in the report. The spillover effect is well-known, but far from well-documented. Indeed, the
 primary effects
 of RLCs are still not well-understood. The IIHS often cite two of Retting’s studies as evidence of a spillover effect, which looked at 5 intersections for 24 hours to look for spillovers. We geocoded Greensboro’s intersections preparing to explicitly test for spillover effects using spatial correlation over time. If spillover effects exist, they should be stronger at intersections closest to the RLC sites since they are clearly marked. However, when many different (and appropriate) modeling techniques failed to show a benefit, measuring the spillover effects of the nonexistent benefits appeared to  be a moot exercise. However, we tested for spillover effects several ways, and found nothing. 3) Additionally, they state that our
 were not reviewed by peers. They say that the  purpose of peer review is to provide a “seal of competence” and that it tells us “These findings 1

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