Law Offices of Paul K. Schrier, PLLC

Red-light cameras put a stop to intersection accidents

Have you ever received an envelope in the mail from the Miami Red-Light Camera Enforcement & Intersection Safety Program? If so, you probably found inside a notice of violation and a snapshot of your car from various angles, including a closeup of your car's rear license plate, as you crossed an intersection on a red light. The notice informed you of the details of the infraction and the fine you owed, which was not cheap.

Nevertheless, you likely remembered the moment when you saw the light turn red and hurried through the intersection anyway. It was a bad decision, and you knew it. Just by luck, no one else was trying to get through the intersection at the same time. You may not always be so lucky, and many cities are using red-light cameras to change these dangerous behaviors.

Do red-light cameras really improve safety?

A recent university study in another state evaluated the effectiveness of red-light cameras to determine if the program was helping improve safety or simply building revenue for the cities. The findings were encouraging, and you may appreciate the positive changes red-light cameras seem to be making, for example:

  • Crashes resulting in injuries declined by 10 percent.
  • Crashes occurring during turns or at dangerous angles decreased by 19 percent.
  • While rear-end collisions increased by 14 percent, these types of accidents often produce fewer, less-serious injuries.
  • Accidents declined at intersections where the city did not place cameras due to the spill-over effect.

The spill-over effect says that since you become conditioned to stopping at intersections where there are red-light cameras, you tend to do the same at other intersections.

Intersection injuries

You may also be interested in learning that the university study found no safety benefits to ticketing and fining drivers when they cross an intersection a fraction of a second after the light turns red. They call this moment the 'dilemma zone,' and say that you or any law-abiding citizen may find it safer to continue through the intersection than to try to stop when the light is yellow.

That being said, the effects of a crash at an intersection can be devastating, leaving vehicle occupants – and even pedestrians – with catastrophic injuries. If you have experienced such an accident or know of someone who has suffered injuries when another car failed to stop for a red light, you understand the importance of any measure that one can take to protect people from such situations.

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