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Is it time to reconsider red light cameras?

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 430 communities across the U.S. have red light camera programs in place as of July 2016. For those unfamiliar with these programs, they are essentially a form of automated enforcement whereby cameras strategically positioned at controlled intersections capture the license plates of motorists who run red lights and subsequently issue them a citation via the mail.

While the systems have long been touted by proponents as a sort of necessary evil serving to encourage safe driving and prevent serious car accidents, opponents have argued that they are more of a money grab than a safety mechanism. Indeed, these arguments have proven persuasive to a degree, as around 158 communities have terminated their red light camera programs over the last five years.

Interestingly enough, a recently released two-part study by the IIHS found that there can be consequences to either ending an existing red light camera program or failing to have one in place at all.

For the first part of the study, IIHS researchers compared the accident rates in 14 cities that turned off their red light cameras with those in 29 cities in the same region that kept them running.

After adjusting for various factors, they determined the following:

  • The rate of fatal red light-running crashes, frequently T-bone collisions, increased by 30 percent after these cities turned off their red light cameras.
  • The rates of all other types of intersection crashes (rear-end crashes, etc.) increased by 16 percent after these cities turned off their red light cameras.    

For the second part of the study, the IIHS researchers compared the accident rates in 33 cities that have never had red light cameras with those in 57 cities that have them in place.

Once again, after adjusting for various factors, they determined the following:

  • The rate of fatal red light-running crashes was 21 percent lower in cities with red light cameras.
  • The rates of all other types of intersection crashes were 14 percent lower in cities with red light cameras.

This is truly a remarkable study and, at the very least, raises the question as to whether it's time to consider introducing these systems here in Kentucky.

What are your thoughts on this issue? If you are against red light camera systems, would it change your mind if their installation was supported by traffic data and all funds collected went directly to traffic safety initiatives?

If you've been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a crash caused by the recklessness of another motorist, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your options.

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