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Red light cameras cut traffic fatalities in some California cities but not all, study finds


A new national report says red-light cameras at intersections reduced traffic fatalities in some cities, including several in California.

Click here to see an interactive graphic on red light video cameras The study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety looked at traffic data from 2004-2008 and concluded that in large cities where the cameras were installed, there were 159 fewer fatalities.

Long Beach, Santa Ana, Sacramento and San Diego all saw reductions in fatal crashes at signaled intersections during this period after they installed cameras, the report said. Anaheim, which did not install cameras, saw a 29% drop. Bakersfield did install some cameras but recorded a 35% increase in crashes.

Red-light cameras have become increasingly controversial. Some critics said cities are using them to increase revenue, a claim officials deny.

The institute described its methodology this way: "Looking at the 99 U.S. cities with populations over 200,000, the researchers compared those with red light camera programs to those without. Because they wanted to see how the rate of fatal crashes changed after the introduction of cameras, they compared two periods, 2004-08 and 1992-96. Cities that had cameras during 1992-96 were excluded from the analysis, as were cities that had cameras for only part of the later study period."


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Comments () | Archives (17)

So is the 29% drop in Anaheim a greater reduction than the other cities mentioned? Please speak apples to apples... 159 fewer of anything means nothing without the overall number. At first blush, it seems fatalities would be even LESS without the cameras, but the slant of the headline speaks to the opposite... bottom line: the article is a wash without effective comparison.

This is a terribly flawed study -- and one with a direct conflict of interest. Insurers stand to gain a bundle from red-light-camera tickets because every ticket on your record allows them to raise your rates. Of course they favor red light cameras -- the more tickets, the wealthier they become!

So of course they provide a "study" that is nothing but a production of the flim-flam man. Their "methodology" of merely matching cites with cameras to those without does nothing to account for all the variables.

For one thing, of course FATAL accidents are down. More and more people have been trading in their older cards for newer ones that come with many safety improvements, from front and side air bags to anti-lock brakes and better bumpers.

Further, accidents are down on all streets nationwide, even the highways, regardless of whether they have red light cameras, and fatal accidents are down the most.

But there are so many other variables unaccounted for, such as differences in layoffs between cities and thus the number of people driving to work every day, differences in changing rates of and enforcement against other accident-linked factors such as drunk driving, difference in weather factors between years, differences is traffic conditions and gridlock from one city to another, and many, many more.

This report is just a self-serving scam matching apples against oranges.

The camera's can't cause accidents, so any decrease is worth the effort.

If you want the government out of your lives then eliminate all stop lights and leave it up to the people to manage themselves on the road. See how that works out for ya.

Fatal accidents are down because in red light violation accidents, both cars are going at the speed limit if not higher when they collide into another car.

Rear end accidents might go up because a driver will brake to avoid being photographed at the intersection. Then they get rear ended by a motorist behind them that is following too closely. Rear end accidents rarely kill anyone at these red light camera intersections.

Red light cameras have NEVER been about safety. Depending on the city, these tickets can cost over $300!!! Try to convince me it's not about revenue.

So the traffic cameras make us safer?

Nice try, boys & girls. Keep on justifying this growth of Big Brother.

Really, why be patronizing? Why not just say that the cameras are a way of issuing expensive traffic tickets to raise revenue, and you don't have to pay the salary of a real cop to stand on the corner and wave people over. That's the true purpose of the cameras.

This is the biggest SCAM

These cameras only sit 5 to 6 feet above the ground. I wonder why no one has taken a baseball bat to these cameras yet.

This is a very poor study. They did NOT compare the same intersection before and after, just overall for the city a whole. That is ridiculous. I am an avid cyclist (those idiots who use two wheels and their feet to get around) and I have seen cameras installed at two very dangerous intersections in my city. I used to watch as red light runners constantly endangered everyone else (i.e law abiding drivers). Within but a few months, suddenly every driver stops properly! Apparently the small group (the usual bottom dwelling 5% who violate every driving regulation) got zapped with heavy fines and decided to mend their ways. I think every major intersection in California should have cameras installed. It is not about fines or insurance rates...it is about correcting very bad driving habits. Now it would be nice if the cops out there would actually enforce the cell phone ban. The violations are rampant and those drivers are completely scatterbrained while driving. I witnessed a woman pulling into a shopping center on the cell phone and she turned too hard to the right (there were absolutely no cars near her) and ran up over the asphalt barrier and into a grass area. The cop who came was incredulus at this idiot and it took a tow truck to get her car back on the pavement. Cell phone driving = drunk driving.

Hey, just stop on the red light. How hard can this be?

When I learned to drive 40 years ago a yellow light meant, "stop if you can." Now it seems to mean, "speed up to make the light." Let's go back to yellow=stop if you can, and red=stop. Green means go. Like in kindergarten, right?

I live near a freeway off ramp, and when the light turns red for the traffic coming off the freeway I NEVER go on green until I see all those lunatics stop. It's a cold comfort that they'll get a ticket after I'm dead.

Over $300? Try closer to $600.

Only unimportant people shouldn't run red lights.

Who cares about the study? Jack up the fines and keep dishing out the tickets until all of the violators have racked up 5 speeds, red light runs, stop sign rolls and then lose their licenses. There are far many more of us who DON'T break the law than those selfish scumbags that do. No pity for them.

these stats are a lie!....how come every time the government wants to "help" us it cost "us" money?.....remember what Reagan called "the ten scariest words in the English language"........"We're from the Government and we're here to help you"....

Aside from dreams of revenue, here's two reasons why politicians OK the cameras:

1. They think we like the cameras!
In October, a blog exposed Astroturf Lobbying in the red light cam Industry. (To read it, Google Rynski and Astroturf.) Astroturf Lobbying is when a PR firm manufactures a fake grassroots movement via comments posted on news articles like this one. The politicians read newspapers and the web, just like anyone else. They see the pro-camera comments, assume they represent genuine public support, and so they vote to install cameras.

2. Politicians - and their extended family - are immune to the tickets.
In California 1.5 million privately-owned cars have plate numbers protected from easy look up, effectively invisible to agencies trying to process red light camera violations. The "protected" list includes local politicians, bureaucrats, retired cops, other govt. employees, and their families and ADULT children! Unbelievable? Read Cal. Veh. Code 1808.4. If you think this is unfair, call your local assemblyperson and state senator and ask them to support AB 3 by Assemblyman Jeff Miller (South OC).
(For comparison, the State of Illinois has only 5867 cars on its protected list, and Texas has 18,323.)

The red light cameras were designed to watch over intersections when a law enforcement officer is not present. Our government was inspired to implement them because of some concern over the state's budget crisis. Rather than a direct approach to the budget problem, which is the elimination of welfare and social services payments to illegal immigrants, the government increased traffic fines and continues to look for more increases for other costs, fees, etc.

This and nearly all articles on the subject of red light cameras fail to address the issue of 6th Ammendment rights and the manner in which drivers are prosecuted. Many are not guilty but are cited based on inaccurate photos and are not provided with a witness in court. Why? Because the cities contract with the red light camera companies to prosecute all alleged citations because if not prosecuted, the company doesn't get full payment for their services. The cameras may affect traffic problems, but not at the expense of our rights. One could argue that the streets would be safer if all gang members were incarcerated, but they too, have rights that cannot be violated.


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