Despite public sentiment, new study shows red light cameras save lives

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Across the country, Americans bemoan the idea of having red light cameras in their hometowns. But according to a new study, getting rid of them may have fatal consequences.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released a new study this week making the case for keeping red light cameras around.

Researchers from the IIHS looked at red light camera programs in 79 large U.S. cities and found they saved nearly 1,300 lives through 2014. According to the data, shutting down such programs costs lives, with the rate of fatal red-light-running crashes shooting up 30 percent in cities that have stopped using the cameras.

“We know we have a problem: people dying at signalized intersections because of people running red lights,” IIHS President Adrian Lund explained Thursday when he presented the study’s finding at a red light camera forum hosted by the Institute. “We know red light cameras are part of the solution.”

While many U.S. cities continue to add cameras at intersections with traffic signals, at least 158 communities across the country have ended their red-light camera programs in the past five years amid complaints they are designed primarily to raise money through tickets rather than to enhance public safety.

Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety offices, said it’s disappointing the total number of communities with red-light camera programs has dropped from 533 in 2012 to 467 last year.

“Too often,” Adkins said, “a vocal minority leading the charge to suspend these programs are costing lives in their communities.”

The findings of the study hit particularly close to home for Alabamians. Earlier this month, the city of Montgomery ended their use of controversial use of speeding cameras in unmanned police cars, but kept red light cameras installed at intersections across the city, which according to the study, may ultimately prove to be a very wise decision.

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