Red Light Cameras Reduce Violations, Improve Safety

Many cities and towns across the country have adopted the use of security cameras to crack down on moving violations at dangerous intersections – running red lights, in particular. Not only do these cameras catch drivers in the act if they blow through a red light, but they can also work to prevent people from doing so in the first place, which is helping to make the roads safer. 

In order to determine just how effective red light cameras have been, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently examined data involving the rate of red light-running in Arlington, Virginia. In June 2010, cameras were installed at four major intersections throughout the city. IIHS researchers recorded these intersections and tracked when and how often drivers ran red lights.

After a year, the researchers found that the number of violations dropped significantly, and the reductions increased for violations that occurred later into the red light. Those that occurred at least 0.5 seconds after the light turned red dropped 39 percent, and the odds of someone running a red light at least 1.5 seconds after it changed declined 86 percent. 

“What these numbers show is that those violations most likely to lead to a crash are reduced the most,” said Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research at IIHS. “The longer the light has been red when a violator enters an intersection, the more likely the driver is to encounter a vehicle traveling in another direction or a pedestrian.”

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