Red-light Cameras Save Lives…Hundreds Annually

Ever received a traffic citation in the mail with a photo that shows your car running a red light?  Suddenly finding out that you need to pay a fine is probably never a nice surprise…but if you live in one of the almost 500 US cities that utilize red-light cameras that that automatically doll out tickets for violators…a new study just might make you a bit more grateful.

The effects of red-light camera programs have been hotly debated since they began in many municipalities years ago. For the first time, we’re learning that they’re actually saving lives…measurably.


The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently reviewed what results when cities that formerly used red-light photo enforced traffic cameras…and, for whatever reason…decided to terminate their program (click this map to check if your city uses red-light cameras. Spoiler Alert: Gilroy has two [2]).  Each of the cities studied had populations greater than 200,000 people…so there’s a statistically sound basis for legitimacy of the study’s results.

The IIHS study was done in two separate parts from differing perspectives:

  • Part 1:  57 cities that started and continued programs from 1992 to 2014 were compared with 33 cities that don’t have any.  Ultimately…cities with red-light cameras had 21 percent fewer deaths related to collisions with red light runners and 14 percent fewer deaths from other crashes than cities without cameras.
  • Part 2:  14 cities were reviewed that ended their red-light camera programs between the years 2010 and 2014.  Those 14 cities were then compared with 29 others that had similar populations and regions.

The bottom line: terminating the red-light camera programs resulted in a 30 percent increase in deaths due to crashes with red-light runners and a 16 percent increase in deaths from other types of collisions.

“Debates over automated enforcement often center on the hassle of getting a ticket and paying a fine. It’s important to remember that there are hundreds of people walking around who wouldn’t be here if not for red light cameras.” ~ Adrian Lund – IIHS President

But, for the sake of equality…here’s a video that considers the opposing view:


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