Disabling Red Light Cameras Increases Traffic Fatalities

A new study shows what happens when cities remove red light cameras, which have become targeted by many motorists and eliminated by at least 158 cities. Fatal crashes increased 30 percent compared with area cities that kept the controversial cameras.

2 minute read

July 31, 2016, 11:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

Red Light Camera

Nicholas Eckhart / Flickr

Do traffic crashes, including those that cause deaths, increase after a city pulls their red-light cameras due to motorists' complaints? Yes, according to a new study released by the insurance industry. It is also the first study to analyze what happens after red light cameras are removed.

"The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety looked at 14 cities that ended their red-light camera programs between 2010 and 2014," reports Phil LeBeauCNBC auto reporter. "Researchers compared the annual crash rates in those cities with those of 29 others in the same regions that continued using red-light cameras."

In those cities that turned off their cameras, the rate of fatal crashes involving a driver who sped through a red light was 30 percent higher per capita than if the cameras had remained functional, according to the research.

Most of those killed by red-light-running vehicles are not the drivers, but passengers, pedestrians and bicyclists, the IIHS said.

The study indicates that 158 communities have stopped using red-light cameras in the last five years, reports Joan Lowy for the Associated Press.

"Debates over automated enforcement often center on the hassle of getting a ticket and paying a fine," IIHS President Adrian Lund said.. "It's important to remember that there are hundreds of people walking around who wouldn't be here if not for red-light cameras.

"Red light camera programs in 79 large U.S. cities saved nearly 1,300 lives through 2014," according to the IIHS press release.

The study can be accessed from the on-line abstract.

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