The ‘Red Light Camera’ Debate

Safety, Trending Automotive News on October 18, 2016

According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), red light cameras are making a significant difference. Their recent study, published in July of this year, found that red light camera programs in 79 large U.S. cities saved nearly 1,300 lives through 2014.

The number of car accidents not only decreased in red light crashes, but in overall fatal intersection crashes. The belief is that drivers are more cautious around intersections when they know cameras are around.

Whether red light cameras are effective is something that some cities still aren’t convinced about. However, IIHS claims that shutting down these programs, as was done in Arizona earlier this year, increased red-light-running crashes by 30 percent.

While the solution to running red lights is highly contested, the problem is widely accepted. In 2014 alone, 709 people were killed in red-light-running crashes, and 126,000 were injured.

While having red-light cameras seems like a no-brainer for the IIHS, many cities believe the reasoning behind these cameras is less about saving lives and more about revenue for the city. For example, since 2003, the city of Chicago has brought in over $500 million from red-light camera tickets.

In March 2016, Governor Doug Ducey had red-light cameras in Arizona turned off as he believed the photo-enforcement company operating in Arizona needed to obtain a private-investigators’ license since they work with citizens’ personal information.

However, in May 2016, those cameras were turned back on as Redflex, the city’s photo-enforcement contractor, began to comply with the licensing requirements. Phoenix has red-light cameras located at the city’s most dangerous intersections based on collision data from crash reports. You can find a list of all of the cameras in Arizona online.

Other cities continue to keep the cameras turned off, or are coming up with creative ways to reduce the number of tickets issued. For example, the city of Tampa, Florida found that lengthening yellow-light times led to fewer accidents and reduced ticket revenue. At one intersection, yellow lights increased from 3.9 seconds to 4.8 seconds, which dropped citations 79 percent.

Whether we agree with the approach or not, it appears that red-light cameras are here to stay in Arizona. With a red-light camera ticket costing $165, it’s best to follow the rules of the road and avoid the ticket altogether. You’ll be saving yourself the money, and potentially saving lives, as well.