Red Light Cameras Receive Endorsement from Influential Governors' Group

Calling it 'mind boggling' that municipalities are removing 'proven safety tools,' the Governors Highway Safety Association strongly endorsed the use of the controversial red light cameras to 'to improve safety for all road users.'

2 minute read

August 2, 2016, 11:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

Red Light Camera

monticello / Shutterstock

"The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) strongly supports the use of automated traffic enforcement technology, including red light cameras, to improve safety for all road users," wrote GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. "It is mind-boggling that these proven safety tools are being removed despite numerous research studies validating their safety benefit."

A study released last month by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the first of its kind, analyzed the consequence of turning off existing red light cameras and compared crash rates to nearby cities that kept their cameras operating.

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.

Delaware example

Adkins also references "a recent evaluation [PDF] of red light camera programs in Delaware that showed a reduction in dangerous T-bone crashes at intersections equipped with cameras." However, that study also reported that "[r]ear-end crashes jumped 7 percent, on average, at DelDOT's red-light camera intersections," according to Karl Baker of The News Journal.

It is unclear exactly what is causing the increase, said Adam Weiser, safety programs manager at DelDOT, but increased roadway congestion might be a contributor.

Local governments opt to disable the cameras

While surveys show that residents in most cities favor red light programs, it's disappointing that the total number of communities using this lifesaving technology has dropped from 533 in 2012 to 467 last year. [A net loss of 66]. Too often, a vocal minority leading the charge to suspend these programs are costing lives in their communities.

Fatalities follow

Following removal of these beneficial safety tools from the community, this research reveals that subsequent fatal crashes at signalized intersections increased by 16 percent. This means that between 2010 and 2014, 63 deaths occurred in intersections that previously were protected by red light cameras.

In conclusion, Adkins recommends that to maximize safety benefits, use of red light cameras follow the guidelines [PDF] established by the Federal Highway Administration.

However, states and municipalities should not look to the federal government for funding assistance thanks to a funding ban in the FAST Act, last year's transportation reauthorization bill.

For more information, including a list of state laws on automated traffic enforcement, see the GHSA webpage, "Speed and Red Light Cameras" and the National Conference of State Legislatures webpage, "Automated Enforcement Overview."

Hat tip to AASHTO Daily Transportation Update.

Thursday, July 28, 2016 in Governors Highway Safety Association

Rendering of electric scooters, electric cars, light rail train, and apartments in background.

Arizona’s ‘Car-Free’ Community Takes Shape

Culdesac Tempe has been welcoming residents since last year.

February 14, 2024 - The Cool Down

Aerial view of suburban sprawl with large single-family homes near Dallas, Texas.

The Changing Shape of American Suburbs

Housing costs and availability are pushing more American households, including young families, to suburbs and exurbs — and they’re demanding changes.

February 13, 2024 - Business Insider

Freeway toll booth with "Stop" and "Pay Toll" signs

Clearer Thinking About Transportation Pricing

It’s time to reform transportation pricing to reduce traffic congestion, crashes, and pollution, and improve non-auto travel options. Raise my prices, please!

February 13, 2024 - Todd Litman

Aerial view of housing and freeway in Cupertino, California.

Proposal Would Link Highway Funding to Zoning

Experts argue that zoning, housing, and transportation policy are intimately linked.

50 minutes ago - Federation of American Scientists

Close-up of old, rusted water pipe leaking at joint.

White House Announces $5.8 Billion in Water Infrastructure Funding

The new funds add to the effort to replace aging infrastructure and lead pipes.

February 21 - ABC News

White and blue double-decker bus in Seattle, Washington.

Seattle to Introduce Electric Buses With Wireless Charging

In-ground induction chargers will reduce the cost of the charging network.

February 21 - Smart Cities Dive

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

The Walkable City

Harvard GSD Executive Education

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.