Turning off red light cameras can cost lives, a new study has revealed.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has found that red light cameras in 79 large U.S. cities saved nearly 1,300 lives through 2014. According to IIHS, shutting down the red light cameras resulted in an increase of 30 percent in fatal red-light-running crashes.
In 2014, red-light-running crashes caused 709 deaths and an estimated 126,000 injuries, with red-light runners accounting for a minority of the people killed in such crashes. Unfortunately, most of those killed in those crashes are occupants of other vehicles, passengers in the vehicle running the red light, pedestrians or bicyclists.
The study found that automated enforcement deters red light running, and since cameras increase the odds that violators will get caught, it discourages would-be violators from taking the odds. Programs that support red light cameras however are declining in the U.S., with opposition from a vocal minority leading to some jurisdictions to shut off their cameras. The total number of communities using red light cameras peaked in 2012 at 533 and has since fallen to 467 last year.
“We know we have a problem: people dying at signalized intersections because of people running red lights,” said IIHS president Adrian Lund as he presented the new research at a red-light-camera forum hosted by the Institute. “We know red light cameras are part of the solution.”