Atlanta Car Accident Attorneys Review Effectiveness of Red Light Cameras
While vehicle occupants always face the risk of suffering debilitating injuries if they are involved in a collision caused by an unsafe driver, intersections pose a particularly dangerous problem for motorists. Traffic lights, stop signs and right of way rules are designed to safely coordinate vehicles that are crossing paths at intersections. However, this coordination of traffic breaks down when a driver blows through a red light. Specifically, red light runners pose a serious risk of causing intersection collisions that result in life-altering injuries.
Many cities in Georgia use red light cameras near intersections to deter speeding and red light violations. Government officials and roadway safety advocates who promote the use of traffic cameras indicate that they make our roadways safer by discouraging dangerous traffic violations at intersections that cause accidents.
Critics Contend Red Light Cameras Intended to Generate Revenue
Notwithstanding the above, critics of red light cameras contend that they constitute a violation of motorists' rights and provide an ineffective traffic safety tool. They further argue that the real motivation behind red light cameras is to raise revenue for financially strapped communities. The revenue generated by the City of Marietta provides an example of the fiscal benefits of red light cameras, according to Marietta.com. In fact, this website reports that during a recent three year period, three traffic cameras in Marietta generated a revenue of $4,243,394, amounting to a total profit of $2,754,742. This amounts to about a 65 percent return on investment, so red lights do constitute lucrative financial investments for cities.
However, the fact the program covers its cost or produces a sharp return does not necessarily mean that the cameras are a bad idea, even though generating revenue is not supposed to be their primary function. The real question is whether they encourage safer driving and prevent crashes at intersections. A policy statement issued by the Clayton County Police website indicates that the primary objectives for its red light cameras include:
• Permitting police officers to focus on other public safety threats
• Improving traffic flow
• Cutting down on accidents and injuries
• Saving lives
Study Reveals Red Light Cameras Can Be Effective in Preventing Crashes
The key issue when evaluating the use of red light cameras is whether the cameras accomplish these types of traffic safety goals. A Texas Transportation Institute White Paper entitled "Effectiveness of Red Light Cameras" provides insight into the public safety benefits derived from red light cameras. The authors of the study indicate that red light camera effectiveness can be viewed in terms of frequency of violations, crash frequency, and the severity of crashes. The White Paper provided an evaluation of crash frequency and severity based on a comparison of 132 red light camera locations across seven jurisdictions with some of the results provided below (the results regarding effectiveness in preventing red light violations are based on the White Paper's analysis of first year results in Georgia).
• Crash Frequency
Right Angle Crashes: Approximately 25 percent decrease
Rear-End Accidents: 15 percent average decrease
• Crash Severity
The number of right angle and rear-end crashes resulting in injury declined by approximately 5 percent.
• Red Light Violations (Based on first year of operation in Georgia)
Violations at a single intersection in Rome fell by 32 percent
Violations at 6 locations in Alpharetta declined by approximately 64 percent
While there have been studies based on smaller samples that have reached less impressive results, this extensive study suggests that traffic cameras can motivate drivers to obey red lights and reduce traffic violations. The data from the study further suggests that red light cameras might have a less significant impact on the number of auto accident-related injuries. However, the 5 percent reduction in injuries caused by running red lights and speeding at intersections is impressive because the program does not require a net expenditure of tax dollars.
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