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Are Red Light Cameras Causing More Car Accidents?

Red Light Cameras Linked to Increased Rear-End Collisions

Beginning in the late 1990s, municipalities around the country began implementing projects to install cameras at critical intersections, especially in areas with a history of car accidents and injuries.

The first red light cameras were installed right here in New York City in 1993, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The effectiveness of red light cameras seems fairly clear because they do seem to reduce major collisions and car accident fatalities. However, other research tends to refute that and suggests that there are actually more accidents in places where so-called ‘automated enforcement’ has been used.

The Case for Red Light Cameras

A review of CDC fact sheets and statistical reports suggests that the overall severity of car accident injuries may be improving, but not necessarily the number of injuries. Said another way, the CDC claims they work. However, CDC’s fact sheets refer to decade-old studies, with the most recent studies appearing to be from around 2010.

The Research Suggesting Red Light Cameras Increase Accidents

The Federal Highway Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation, released a 2005 study suggesting that indeed red-light cameras led to increased numbers of rear-end collisions. The study did not reach a strong conclusion, however, regarding the overall cost-benefit analysis of keeping red-light cameras. Rather, it seemed to suggest that revenues derived from the cameras made up for the increased property damages.

Next, a 2014 study out of Chicago clarified some of the 2005 research by explaining that while right-angle crashes decreased by 15% (T-bone accidents), rear-end collisions increased by 22%. The study suggests that this created a net increase of 5% greater injuries in total.

Plenty of other anecdotal evidence exists in favor of removal, as well. Motorist.org reports a long list of cities where red light cameras have been linked to safety concerns due to sharp increases in accidents.

In September 2017, Suffolk County was set to vote on suspending the use of its red-light camera enforcement program, due to escalating safety concerns. The vote was tabled. Therefore, red-light cameras remain the law of the land for now.

The Verdict?

If the goal is to generate revenue for municipalities, then red-light cameras are a terrific idea. Likewise, if the goal is to reduce T-Bone or head-on collisions, which have the greatest threat to life, it may very well be true that automated enforcement is effective, at least in reducing catastrophic injuries. However, it is difficult to make the argument to the hundreds of other people who are rear-ended at the same intersection each year because other drivers are irresponsibly slamming on their brakes to avoid a ticket.

It is a careful and delicate balancing test that legislators and local lawmakers must find. Nevertheless, one thing is clear, accidents continue to occur in Suffolk County, and red-light cameras are at least one contributing factor in some rear-end collisions.

Injured in a Rear-End Collission? Speak to Our Long Island Personal Injury Attorneys

If you are rear-ended at an intersection or suffer injuries from an auto accident, you may have a lot of questions about how to get the medical care you need, what you should say to insurance adjusters, and how to go about getting paid for your time off work. Whatever your questions, the Long Island injury personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP are here to help. Call us 24/7 at (866) 895-0420 or contact us online to set up a free case evaluation.

(c) Can Stock Photo / tommaso79

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