Most people don’t like them. Privacy advocates abhor them. But really, how many things can you name that save lives AND generate revenues for cash-strapped local and state governments?
A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has shown that red light cameras saved 159 lives over a 4-year period in the 14 large US cities where the study took place.
The scientists claimed that more than 800 traffic fatalities would have been prevented during the course of the study if the cameras had been deployed in all large US cities.
The scientists compared fatal car crash rates in US cities with populations of at least 200,000 for two 4-year periods: 1992-1996 and 2004-2008. They excluded cities that had already deployed red light cameras in the earlier period, and cities that instituted cameras during the later period.
In the 14 cities that used red light cameras during 2004-08, the rate of fatal red light running crashes was 35% lower than in 1992-96. The crash rate did drop in cities that never deployed camera programs, but only by 14%.
Based on these data, the scientists determined that the rate of fatal red light running crashes was 24% lower in cities with cameras in 2004-08 than it would have been had they not deployed the cameras.
In fact, the benefits of red light cameras were actually larger than this. The rate of all fatal crashes at intersections with signals (not just red light running crashes) dropped by 14% in cities that deployed red light cameras, whereas it increased by 2% in other cities. (more…)