Photo of a traffic camera.
Car accidents decrease in areas with traffic cameras. CC by M.O. Stevens/Wikimedia Commons

More cities in the U.S. are relying on red light cameras. Motorists typically denounce the presence of red light cameras as revenue-raisers rather than public safety devices. But a drop in traffic deaths as well as a rise in revenues have been attributed to red light cameras in an insurance industry study.

Red light cameras a good investment

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says red light cameras work as advertised. The research industry did a study showing the number of traffic fatalities has gone down in the five years that red light cameras have been in intersections. There has been a 26 percent decrease. The study compared 14 large U.S. cities with red light cameras to 48 that don’t have them. Research from 2004 to 2008 was compared from these cities. There was a drop in the traffic fatalities for both categories, but fatalities dropped faster in red light camera cities. Rear-end collisions increased at intersections with red light cameras, but the more deadly T-bone collisions decreased.

Cameras at red lights statistics

Red light camera statistics in the study also drew on traffic accident data recorded by the federal government. In 2009, 2.2 million crashes occurred at intersections, which is about 41 percent of all crashes. Those collisions seriously hurt 81,112 people and killed 7,358. Red light running was the cause of 676 of those deaths and  113,000 of the injuries. Passengers, other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists were killed by other people running the red light. In fact, 64 percent of those killed died from getting hit by a driver running a red light. The researchers suggest that about 815 lives would have been saved if there had been red light cameras used in all 99 cities.

Getting red light cameras is the problem

When it comes to revenue, red light cameras are great for cities. Millions of dollars in revenue are made off of them. In Washington, D.C., red light cameras netted nearly $7.2 million on 85,678 red-light citations from June 2009 through May 2010. Red light cameras are used in half of U.S. states currently. About 25 cities installed them in 2000. About 500 cities use red light cameras currently. The National Motorists Association, a long-time critic of red light cameras, said that longer yellow lights would make intersections safer. Some U.S. cities have passed voter initiatives banning red light cameras because they view them as heavy-handed enforcement and an invasion of privacy.

Information from

Washington Post:

Wall Street Journal:

Fair Warning:

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