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Do Red Light Cameras Reduce Accidents?

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Red light runners cause over 700 fatalities every yearInsurance Institute for Highway Safety 

Violators make the intersection dangerous for everyone. This includes people on foot, motorcycles, bicycles, and in other cars. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), over half the victims killed in crashes caused by red-light runners were not in the violator's vehicle.

Many cities have adopted red light cameras in attempts to reduce red light accidents. If a driver runs a red, it triggers the device to record a picture and video using radar. Then the violator receives a citation in the mail.

Red light camera systems were developed in the Netherlands in the 1960's. They weren't used in the US until New York City adopted them in 1993.

Do Red Light Cameras Make Intersections Safer?

It depends on who you ask. Of course, the private companies that make millions off the systems validate their safety. Some studies have revealed a decrease in accidents at intersections with cameras and even a "spillover" effect of safer no-camera intersections nearby. Yet opponents argue that they are simply a revenue generator with no real benefits. Drivers hate them so much that some political candidates have promised to end red light camera enforcement as a major pillar of their campaign.

Red Light Cameras and Short Yellow Lights?

It was revealed that a red light enforcement company had shortened yellow light duration in Chicago. This turned out to be a dangerous combination. Since drivers were afraid of getting tickets, they began stopping more abruptly when the light turned yellow. Some city officials believe this caused an uptick in rear-end crashes. One driver who protested a citation discovered that the city required yellow lights to be at least three seconds. Judges threw thousands of tickets out where the video showed that the yellow light was less than three seconds.

Getting Rid of Cameras

Miami recently stopped using red light cameras it had been using since 2010. City commissioners—who voted unanimously to discontinue the program—said they wanted to reduce the financial burden on motorists.

Victim advocates disagreed with the decision as did Miami's police union. The union pointed out that they use the photos and videos in crime investigations.

Miami will miss out on a lot of revenue. It was set to rake in $10.5 million dollars from red light violations this year. The company who owns and operates the cameras would have received about 40% of that total.

Do you believe that red light camera enforcement makes communities safer? The auto service team at I-86 Truck & Auto Repair would love to hear what you think. Leave a comment below.