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Red light cameras: Do they always work?

A study of a Florida town that was among the first to implement a red light camera program indicates that the results were not what some had hoped for. In fact, the number of car accidents actually increased after the automated cameras were placed near red lights in the town.

The cameras were installed in March 2006, despite the fact that the town did not have a pronounced problem with accidents at intersections with traffic lights, according to a recent investigation. In a 53-month period, there were a total of 16 accidents at the intersection where the town installed the cameras and automated ticketing apparatus, with none of them causing a death. One out of the 16 accidents involved a driver ignoring a red light, and, in that instance, the driver was ticketed for DUI.

Of these accidents, three took place in the year before the cameras were installed, with two occurring in the year immediately after they were put in place. With the DUI excluded, this was the same number of accidents. More significantly, in the first three years that the cameras were in place, accidents averaged 3.3 per year, including seven accidents in 2008. The town tried doing without the cameras in 2009, and in that year, the number of accidents declined to three.

Some have suggested that the installation of red light cameras and automated ticketing systems may be geared more to generating municipal revenue from tickets than actually doing anything to prevent or deter accidents. Others argue that, at least in other locales, red light cameras deter drivers from speeding through intersections. What do you think? Do red cameras help or not?

Source: The Newspaper, “Florida: Early red light camera program failed to reduce accidents,” July 12, 2012

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