Institute: Red light cameras really do save lives

Red light cameras saved 159 lives in the U.S. between 2004 and 2008 and would have led to the prevention of 815 deaths had every large city — defined as those with more than 200,000 people — been using the technology.

The information was published in a recent study released by the Institute, a research branch of the American insurance industry, which shows the stop light cameras led to 17 percent fewer fatal crashes per capita at intersections using the cameras.

The study comes on the heels of last fall’s decision in Houston, Texas to end their use, and a statement from one Virginia lawmaker who’s looking to ban the cameras. Automatic intersection cameras have been faced with a lot of opposition, with some claiming they’re a cash-grab for a lazy police force and an invasion of privacy.

The Institute analysed traffic and collision data from the 99 largest cities in the country over two time periods: ’92 to ’96 for pre-camera data, and ’04 to ’08 for post-camera numbers. They then compared the rate of collisions in cities with cameras to those without.

Consensus seems to come down to the concept that drivers in cities with intersection cameras tend to drive more cautiously, leading to fewer overall collisions, both fatal and non-fatal.

What’s news to me is that there are so many people out there who haven’t just accepted these cameras as part of modern life. If you’re in a public place, piloting thousands of pounds of steel and gallons upon gallons of explosive liquids at speed in the midst of pedestrians and buildings, you can’t expect anyone in a legal position of authority to allow you to make stupid choices. And you definitely can’t expect anyone else to care at all when you’ve run over their babies at an intersection because your own self-imposed hurry was more important than the collective safety of the traffic light system.

That’s just selfish. </sarcasm>

[Wired]


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One Comment

  1. ryansjones says:

    Personally, I do have mixed feelings about red light cameras.

    pros:
    - deters speeders and aggressive drivers
    - makes people think twice about running the red lights
    - gets people to slow down instead of speed up at yellow lights
    - reduces the chances of t-bone collissions
    cons:
    - Green lights can turn yellow at the last minute, and it is not always possible to stop in time. If the yellow light span is too short, that could be a problem for lots of drivers.
    - Rear endings could be more likely to occur, especially if the light changes at the last minute and you are being tailgaited when stopping right away.
    - Sometimes stop lights can appear to be broken. For example, if you want to turn left to another street and the light stays red for several cycles.

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