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IIHS Reports Turning Off Red Light Cameras Leads to Rise in Fatalities


Posted on Aug 19, 2016

Drive through any busy intersection in Atlanta and you are may spot one of these inconspicuous little cameras. Some of you may have even received a traffic ticket in the mail after one of these cameras spotted you. Across the country, cities have installed red light cameras at dangerous intersections. The resulting public opinions have been mixed.

How does the public feel about red light cameras?

Advocates of red light cameras argue that these automated traffic enforcers prevent accidents, while non-believers claim the cameras are simply a source of revenue for cash-strapped cities.

Over the past few years, public opinion was so low in many towns that they completely shut down red light camera programs.

But a recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows that these decisions to abandon red light cameras may have been a mistake.

Do red light cameras actually save lives?

The recent study showed a 30 percent increase in fatal red-light-running crashes in cities that shut down their red light camera programs.

In 2012, a total of 533 communities across the United States were using red light cameras, more than any year before. But by 2015, the number of communities using red light cameras had fallen to 467. For its study, the IIHS looked at both communities continuing their red light programs and those that had shut their programs down. 

The results were simple, red light cameras save lives. In 2014 alone, red light cameras installed in 79 U.S. cities decreased accident fatalities by nearly 1,300, according to the study.

IIHS President Adrian Lund said of the new research, "We know we have a problem: people dying at signalized intersections because of people running red lights. We know red light cameras are part of the solution."

Red Light Cameras in Georgia

The State of Georgia currently permits the use of red light cameras statewide and many communities have installed red light cameras at dangerous intersections.

After a red light camera catches a car running a red light, the registered owner of the vehicle receives a citation in the mail along with a maximum fine of $70. This citation is not a moving violation and will not cost the driver any points on his license.

Red light camera penalties are light when compared with the penalties resulting when a police officer pulls someone over for running a red light. In that situation, the offending driver receives a moving violation, 3 points on their driver’s license, and a maximum fine of $1,000.

However, in spite of the safety benefits and the relatively minor penalties, there is still some resistance to red light camera usage in Georgia. 

How many lives are lost when cities turn off red light cameras?

According to the IIHS study, cities with active red light cameras saw:

  • 21 percent fewer fatal crashes caused by drivers running red lights
  • 14 percent fewer fatal accidents

Cities that abandoned their red light camera programs saw:

  • 30 percent more fatal crashes caused by drivers who ran red lights
  • 16 percent more fatal crashes

In 2014, red-light-running crashes caused 709 deaths and an estimated 126,000 injuries. Most surprisingly, the runners themselves account for only a minority of the fatalities. Instead, most of the fatalities are occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, or passengers in the runners’ vehicles.

Another Benefit for Communities that Use Red Light Cameras

Another benefit to communities using red light cameras is the fact that they are always monitoring the intersection. This means, if you are involved in an accident, the camera may have caught proof of who was at fault.

For help recovering footage from the red light camera, contact the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. today: 404-474-0804. 

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