The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s report – http://www.iihs.org/research/topics/pdf/r1151.pdf- finds red light cameras cut fatal crashes, but do not eliminate them. Basically the fuzzy logic used in the report implies that red-light cameras are helping certain drivers remember that red means stop. But whether you remember or not, you will get a ticket in the mail or, in some cases, by a police officer assigned (unluckily for you) to your location.
Did you know the cost of the ticket will vary based solely on the location? Interested readers can visit PhotoEnforced.com – a user generated or crowd sourced database of photo enforced locations and fines – to get an estimate of the cost per location in Washington, D.C. and other major cities.
The study concludes that the cameras have reduced the rate of fatal crashes by 24 percent in 14 large cities that introduced red light cameras between 1996 and 2004. Unfortunately, this information is over six years old and would not provide the recipient of the ticket any information about the possible accident that would have occurred as a result of their violation of the traffic law.
Fatal red light crashes fell in most cities, but the rate fell 14 percent in the 48 cities without cameras and 35 percent in the 14 cities with cameras in the second period. The study also noted drops in all fatal crashes at intersections with traffic signals, not just those caused by running red lights. The biggest drop in the rate of fatal crashes involving red light running was seen in Chandler, Ariz., where deaths dropped 79 percent.
Baltimore saw a 14-percent drop in fatal red light crashes, but a 50 percent increase in fatal crashes at intersections with signals.
In Washington, D.C., Police Chief Cathy Lanier said cameras conserve manpower and keep officers safe while reducing fatalities.
“With an automated system, we can do the enforcement without pulling officers out of the neighborhoods where they’re doing crime fighting,” Lanier was quoted as saying.
In 2009, 676 people were killed and an estimated 113,000 injured in red light crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System.
Some quotes shared by proponents of cameras include:
“Red light cameras can be a cheaper and safer alternative to officers enforcing red light running.”
“We think that they – light runners- are just paying more attention to intersections as they come up on them because they are more certain that if they violate the red light that they will get a ticket.”
“Nothing’s worth risking your life or someone else’s life, you think ‘I can make this light.’ If you might also get a ticket it serves as a reminder.”
A spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic stated the study provides strong evidence that cameras can save lives when used appropriately with the goal of making roads safer. However, proper oversight is necessary to avoid abuse and fraud.
Based on the study and other factors, Washington, D.C. is planning on installing more new cameras, which are smaller and more portable, within the next year. They will mostly be at downtown and major intersections. They will run on solar power or batteries, and can be set up in residential neighborhoods. Unlike other jurisdictions, D.C. law allows photo enforcement for any moving violation. So this self financing technology will not end because of lack of funding.
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