What is the true purpose of a red light enforcement camera? Well, it may depend on who you ask. Though the publicly stated position is to limit the number of vehicles running red lights and therefore reduce the number of red light car accidents, many drivers feel that the motives may be less altruistic by local governments.
Some in Chicago have been very vocal about their views on red light cameras, stating that the cameras are designed to raise revenue through the issuance of tickets and not designed to improve safety. However, new information released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (“IIHS”) may dispute this widely held belief as the research concludes that use of red lights is saving lives.
According to IIHS, red light camera programs in 79 large U.S. cities are believed to have saved nearly 1,300 through 2014 at a time when car accidents continue to be one of the major causes of unintentional death in America.
The data was pulled from cities using automated red light cameras to detect motorists who ran red lights. These camera systems work with sensors to detect when a vehicle enters an intersection against a red light, thus triggering the camera to take a picture of the vehicle involved. Often, these cameras take multiple pictures to capture the driver, vehicle, license plate and/or other identifying information so that the proper motorist can be ticketed for running the red light.
Experts argue that the presence of red light cameras make drivers act in a more responsible manner and therefore leads to less light running. Officials believe that drivers are more likely to stop for a red light if they know they will be punished for running it by receiving a traffic ticket.
In its study, IIHS compared the number of fatal collisions caused by red light running in communities with and without red light cameras and determined that red light cameras were saving a significant number of lives. Importantly, IIHS concluded that communities that turned off red light cameras after previously using them saw fatal collisions caused by red light runners rise 30 percent.
In 2014, red light car accidents are believed to have claimed 709 lives and caused approximately 126,000 injuries in the United States, many of which happened in the greater Chicago area. Unfortunately, a large number of those who are injured or killed annually are innocent victims who happen to be in an intersection when an at-fault driver runs a light. In other cases, it is someone inside the at-fault driver’s vehicle that is harmed or even a pedestrian near or in the intersection.
When red light crashes happen in Illinois, victims can seek financial compensation for their injuries in many instances, including situations where an at-fault driver is not ticketed for her conduct or where she is found not guilty of a traffic violation. Speaking with a personal injury attorney may help you get the information you need to evaluate your options if your life has been affected by a crash.
Prior Blog Entry:
Safety Tips for the Chicago Cubs Victory Parade, Celebration, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published November 4, 2016.
Turning off red light cameras costs lives, new research shows, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, published July 28, 2016.