Red light cameras are becoming more and more popular since they first appeared in New York City back in the 1990s. And research confirms that this is a very good thing when it comes to safety and saving lives.
A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) revealed that red light cameras in 79 U.S. cities saved nearly 1,300 lives in 2014. This finding builds on a previous study showing that red light driving crashes decreased by 21 percent in cities that had red light cameras.
Automated enforcement deters red light running. While traditional police enforcement can help, there aren’t enough resources to station officers at every intersection. Cameras increase the odds that violators will get caught, and well-publicized camera programs discourage would-be violators from taking those odds.
As expected, the cameras have their biggest effect on red-light-running crashes. However, the analysis shows they reduce other types of fatal intersection crashes as well. Drivers may be more cautious in general when they know there are cameras around.
On the flip side, crashes caused by running red lights increased 30 percent in cities that stopped using red light cameras.
Despite the growing body of research showing that red light cameras do indeed save lives, the total number of communities with red light cameras fell to 467 in 2015 after peaking at 533 in 2012.
Does your town have red light cameras? If not, maybe it should!