The wrath of the red light camera: the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says red light cameras reduce the incidence of red light running, based on studying two intersections in Arlington, VA. Motorist advocacy groups such as the National Motorists Association however, dispute such information.
The IIHS study touts the benefits of red light cameras, with the vice president and study’s author, Anne McCartt, saying: “the study provides fresh evidence that automated enforcement can get drivers to modify their behavior.” McCartt added that “what these numbers show is that those violations most likely to lead to a crash are reduced the most.”
The IIHS study is in stark contrast to several media reports that red light cameras increase rear-end accidents. A Los Angeles area TV station found at 20 of 32 intersections studied, the accident rates increased, in some cases tripling. Another study in Oceanside, CA, found an 800 percent increase in rear-end accidents at one intersection, while they decreased at two others. Rear-end accidents can be more likely as a driver will suddenly brake to avoid a red light infraction–sometimes unnaturally–increasing the chance a driver behind them may crash in to them. In California, red light infractions can cost violators $480 in some cases. It’s likely the new IIHS study will only fuel the debate.