Utilization of red light cameras at intersections are becoming increasingly popular around the country, including Colorado. Local officials who advocate the use of red light cameras claim that the cameras are meant to prevent accidents and deter individuals from making the roads unsafe by running red lights. But do red light cameras actually make our roads safer? Well, it depends who you ask.
High Hopes For The Use Of Red Light Cameras
In the early 2000s, lawmakers and politicians advocated strongly for the use of red light cameras as a new technology that would reduce the number of accidents at major intersections thereby protecting motorists and pedestrians alike.
In part, the proponents of the cameras were not wrong. A 2005 study conducted by the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) concluded that installation of red light cameras both reduced the number of red light violations as well as the number of accidents, particularly “T-bone” collisions which occur at a right angle.
How Safe Are Red Light Cameras, Really?
Since the FHA's study, the popularity of red light cameras has begun to dwindle. Many cities throughout the country, including Denver and Boulder, have experienced a backlash over using red light cameras and photo radar.
One of the major reasons for the attack on these cameras is that while their use may reduce the number of T-bone accidents, the cameras have actually increased the number of rear-end car collisions. This is because drivers who become aware of the red light cameras suddenly hit their brakes (rather than running the red light) causing the drivers behind them to crash into the back of their vehicle. In some cities, the increase in rear-end accidents at intersections with red light cameras has been significant – as high as over 100%.
Another reason that red light cameras are losing popularity is because drivers believe their use is simply a money-making scheme employed by city officials. In many places where these cameras have been installed, the amount of time the traffic light is yellow has been reduced. Drivers claim that by rigging the lights this way, it becomes much easier to issue a ticket for running red lights. Drivers further argue that by decreasing the number of seconds a light is yellow, motorists are forced with the option of running the light and receiving a ticket or slamming their brakes and hoping the driver behind them doesn't crash into them.
What The Future Looks Like For Red Light Cameras
In response to the arguments above, proponents of red light cameras have claimed that rear-end auto accidents are far less likely to be fatal than T-Bone collisions. They also argue that drivers need to learn that a yellow light means “prepare to stop,” not an indication that motorists should attempt to speed-up in order to beat the red light.
While we can expect to see the controversy over red light cameras continue for years to come, the truth of the matter is that they prevent some car accidents and cause others. Nevertheless, even if there are more fatalities with T-bone collisions than rear-end accidents, rear-end crashes can still cause major damage and severe bodily injury.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, whether a red light camera was to blame or not, you need the help of a qualified personal injury attorney to fight for you and get you the compensation you deserve. At the Law Office of Jeremy Rosenthal, our personal injury lawyers have years of experience representing car accident victims and are here to help you. Call us today for a free consultation at (303) 647-4511, or visit us online.