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Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Who Are The Victims In The Red Light Camera Debate?
The installation of red light cameras has stirred up quite a debate throughout the United States between those who feel red light cameras promote safety and those who feel they are an invasion of civil liberties. The debate received more fuel with a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) that showed that red light cameras save lives.
The IIHS study, released on February 1st, indicated that "red light cameras reduce not only fatal red light running crashes, but other types of fatal intersection crashes as well." The study went on to say that "red light cameras have saved 159 lives in 2004-08 in 14 of the biggest US cities and that, had cameras been operating during that period in all large cities, a total of 815 deaths would have been prevented." The study looked at 99 cities with populations over 200.000 and compared the rate of crashes between those cities that had red light cameras and those that didn't. The study 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.”
The IIHS study backed up an earlier study by Old Dominion University that compared the rate of traffic crashes before red light cameras were installed at intersections in Virginia Beach, during their operation, and after the removal of the cameras. The study showed traffic crashes were reduced during the period that the cameras were installed.
Those groups opposed to red light cameras argue that the cameras are just a way for local governments to raise additional revenue and that the cameras are an invasion of privacy. IIHS president Adrian Lund was quoted saying; "Somehow, the people who get tickets because they have broken the law have been cast as the victims," Lund says. "We rarely hear about the real victims — the people who are killed or injured by these lawbreakers."
"Red light running killed 676 people and injured an estimated 113,000 in 2009. Nearly two-thirds of the deaths were people other than the red light running drivers — occupants of other vehicles, passengers in the red light runners' vehicles, bicyclists, or pedestrians."
A quick Google search of news articles in just the past month shows that red light runners have been responsible for the deaths of:
- An 11 year old girl who was a passenger in a vehicle struck by red light runner.
- A family of five who were all killed when their vehicle was struck by a red light runner.
- A nun whose vehicle was struck by a red light runner.
- A female passenger riding in the vehicle of a 16 year old driver who ran a red light and crashed into another vehicle.
- A passenger in a vehicle struck by a red light runner.
- Two drivers of vehicles who were struck by red light runners.
- A pedestrian who was hit by a vehicle that had been struck by a red light runner and pushed across the intersection.
These figures do not include the larger number of people who were injured in collisions caused by red light runners.
There is no way to know whether or not these twelve victims might still be alive today had red light cameras been installed but the data seems to point to the fact that red light cameras do save lives and it is possible that some of these innocent victims might have been saved if red light cameras been installed.
In the State of Florida, there is a law that took effect October 1, 2009, which makes a 4-hour traffic school or basic driver improvement course a requirement for all drivers that receive a traffic ticket for running a red light.