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Disabling Red Light Cameras Increases Number of Fatal Accidents

Traffic light cameras in Virginia

According to a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), red light cameras hold a great deal of potential to save drivers’ lives. Their research shows that cities that remove red light cameras once in place experience a sharp increase in fatalities due to collisions at red lights.

In 2014, crashes caused by drivers running a red light caused approximately 126,000 injuries, 709 of which were fatal. In the majority of cases, those who are killed in red light crashes are not the occupants of the car running the light, but rather the occupants of the other car, or the pedestrian or bicyclist victim of the red-light-runner. While research has consistently shown the effectiveness of red light cameras in preventing crashes, and residents of communities with red light cameras tend to support their presence, a vocal minority has fought their presence nationwide. As a result, the number of communities with red light cameras reached a peak of 533 in 2012, but by 2015, had fallen to 467. There are a number of currently-active red light cameras in Albemarle County.

The recent IIHS study examined collision rates in cities that had deactivated their red light cameras between 2010 and 2014, comparing them to collision rates in cities that had either activated such cameras between 1992 and 2014, or had never had red light cameras installed. The study found that the reduction in collisions at intersections due to the presence of red light cameras translated to nearly 1,300 lives saved during the years that the red light cameras were operational. Additionally, in cities that turned off the cameras, their rate of fatalities from red-light-running crashes increased by 30%.

Posting police officers at traffic intersections to monitor whether or not drivers run red lights simply isn’t economically feasible in most cities. As a result, cameras prevent a uniquely-effective means to prevent red-light-running accidents. Many drivers see the cameras as nothing but another revenue-generation tool of local law enforcement, and thus are opposed to the devices without understanding their injury-prevention value. However, the publication of research such as this, bringing to light the life-saving effectiveness of such cameras, could change that public perception. Additionally, some cities have decided to designate all fees gathered from red-light-running tickets to traffic safety projects, rather than the city’s general fund.

If you have been hurt in a Virginia red light crash or in another car accident with a negligent driver, contact the dedicated and knowledgeable Charlottesville car accident lawyers at Buck, Toscano & Tereskerz for a consultation on your case, at 434-977-7977.

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