Study: Red-light cameras fail to reduce traffic accidents
A recent analysis confirms what many Illinoisans already know: While red-light cameras serve as reliable sources of revenue, they do not improve public safety.
A recent study from Case Western Reserve University, or CWRU, found that red-light cameras do not increase traffic safety, despite claims made to the contrary by public officials in Illinois and elsewhere.
Researchers looked at traffic accident data in Houston after the city implemented its red-light camera program in 2006, and after residents voted to eliminate it in 2010. Analyzing the Houston data and similar data from Dallas, the study concluded that red-light camera enforcement had no measurable positive effect on public safety.
More than 400 communities across the United States operate red-light cameras, including many municipalities in Illinois. In Chicago, the city’s flawed and corrupt red-light camera program has cost motorists millions.
The analysis found that while side-impact accidents, such as T-bone collisions, did indeed decrease, red-light camera enforcement actually increased the number of “non-angle” accidents, such as rear-end collisions. Causing drivers to brake more abruptly ahead of red lights, the study found red-light cameras to have changed the pattern of traffic accidents, rather than reduce them. Moreover, since non-angle accidents are more common than side-impact accidents, the increase that resulted from red-light camera enforcement likely led to more accidents overall, according to the study.
Data on types of injuries caused by traffic accidents, the study notes, also fail to support the claim that red-light cameras improve traffic safety.
A 2017 report paid for by the Chicago Department of Transportation recommended the city continue its red-light camera program, but that report remains a curious outlier. The CWRU study follows other research in determining that red-light cameras fail to enhance public safety.
The CWRU study confirms what many Illinoisans already know: Red-light cameras offer little in the way of public safety, but remain reliable sources of revenue for local officials. Illinois municipalities should discontinue their red-light camera programs, which have for too long burdened motorists – without making them safer.
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