Rochester Technology

Bad news, Rochester: red light cameras actually do work

I know, I know. I had hoped to find something completely different when I started this article. But the truth is that the evidence supporting red light cameras as effective safety measures is pretty overwhelming and extends back quite a few years.

But even just two months ago, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that:

Based on that comparison, the researchers concluded that the rate of fatal red light running crashes in cities with cameras in 2004-08 was 24 percent lower than it would have been without cameras. That adds up to 74 fewer fatal red light running crashes or, given the average number of fatalities per red light running crash, approximately 83 lives saved.

This was based on studying 99 cities who have recently installed new red light cameras. Yes, it is true that cities do get revenue from the lights. But in Chicago as one example, that number is about $60m. Sounds like a lot, right? Except when you factor in that the city has a budget deficit of $635m dollars. Chicago’s total budget weighs in at around $6bn. Does $60m really add up to a whole lot? Not really, no. The city pays more to maintain its firemen’s pensions annually.

The reason red light cameras appear to be so effective is largely psychological. Over time, drivers become aware that certain lights have cameras on them, and whether they like to think themselves rebels or not, they generally avoid getting dinged by the cameras:

So, while I’m not a huge fan of them myself, the fact is that they work. And considering that the federal Department of Transportation estimates 100,000 and 1,000 fatalities can be attributed to people running red lights, there are ample reasons to suggest that those cameras are probably here to stay. Pht.

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.