Red light accidents were the cause of 673 fatalities and 122,000 injuries in 2010, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). However, despite efforts to reduce drivers running red lights, those numbers continue to increase. The IIHS reports that approximately 137,000 people were injured in 2015 and 811 people were fatally injured in 2016 in red light running crashes.
Government-installed cameras snap photos of drivers who run red lights and then those drivers are mailed a fine. Although this is meant to reduce red light running accidents, studies suggest that it may be making the situation worse. In the most comprehensive study of its kind, the Australian Road Research Board found that red light cameras did not serve as an effective countermeasure against rear-end and adjacent-approach accidents from 1979 to 1989.
Another study prepared by the North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University for the U.S. Department of Transportation found that red light cameras did not reduce red light crashes at 303 intersections over a 57-month period, and that they were associated with severe types of crashes.
A more recent study by the Case Western Reserve University found that cameras encourage people to engage in dangerous behavior, such as slamming on their brakes, to avoid getting fined for running a red light, which leads to more accidents. However, these cameras remain in place in many cities despite the studies that suggest they do more harm than good. Critics point to governmental financial incentives as an underlying reason for the cameras’ persistence.
Toledo, Ohio makes approximately two million dollars a year in fine payments from those who run red lights. However, this amount is subtracted from the amount that the municipality is to receive from the state. Other studies have found that cameras reduce certain types of red light running accidents. The Federal Highway Administration released a study in 2005 showing that right-angle crashes, which tend to be more severe than rear-end collisions, decreased by 25 percent. Therefore, although rear-end collisions increased by 15 percent, the total crash costs for the seven communities studied decreased by $18.5 million because of the reduction in right-angle crashes.
In 2007, the Virginia Research Council found that while cameras were associated with an increase in rear-end crashes, they were also associated with a reduction in red-light running crashes. The researchers noted that there was significant variation depending on the intersections and their geographical location, therefore the effectiveness of red light cameras would best be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
If you were injured in a red light accident, contact the Allegheny County personal injury lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. We will fight to hold the negligent party accountable for your injuries. From our office in Pittsburgh, we represent clients injured in car accidents throughout the surrounding areas of Western Pennsylvania including Lawrence County and Washington County. Contact us online or call us at 412-765-1888 for a free case evaluation today.