The Arguments in Favor of Red Light Cameras

On this page you will find the common arguments in favor of red light cameras, each will be followed by comments on the reason from the opposite viewpoint

  1. Red Light Running is a major problem
    Summary: Analysis of red light violation data from 19 intersections (without red light cameras) in four states found that 1,775 violations occurred over 554 hours, for a violation rate of 3.2 per hour per intersection.  In 2008, 762 people were killed and an estimated 137,000 were injured in crashes that involved red light running.
    Comments: A 2010 NHTSA report showed that traffic fatalities have fallen 22% since 2005, with the vast majority of communities not using RLCs. Also, the 2008 fatalities figures mentioned above for 2008 only account for only 2% of total traffic fatalities in the USA for that year, far below the major causes of traffic fatalities in the USA.

  2. Police cannot effectively monitor intersections for red light runners all of the time
    Summary: It can take 6 police officers to monitor one traffic signaled intersection for a day
    Comments: The 2003 Ontario study shows that real police are more effective than red light cameras in terms of both safety and reduction in violations.

  3. Red Light Cameras can substantially reduce red light violations
    Summary: Studies show a decrease in red light running of 25-96% after red light cameras are installed
    Comments: Almost all of the studies that we have read show a large initial decrease in red light violations soon after RLCs are installed, but there is evidence that this is not a permanent change. For example, Las Cruces, New Mexico initially saw a large drop in violations after installing RLCs, but has seen red light violations climb back up to 72% of pre-RLC levels after only 13 months.

  4. Red Light Cameras lead to safety benefits
    Summary: Studies show decreases in crashes as well as a decrease in crash costs at red light intersections
    Comments: While a few studies do show a decrease in total crashes and injury crashes, the majority of the 20 red light camera studies and reports that we analyzed show increases in both, showing an average of a 27% increase in crashes and a 21% increase in injury crashes after red light cameras were installed. The economic benefits are extremely difficult to measure, and most studies that do attempt to measure them use crash cost data from 8 or more years ago. As for preventing crashes, here is a link to a collection of videos(taken by red light cameras) showing that they do not work.

  5. People support the use of red light cameras
    Summary: A 2000 IIHS survey showed 75% of drivers support the use of red light cameras
    Comments: We have read surveys showing ranges of support from 28-80% for red light cameras. But since polling and surveys can be greatly influenced by who is conducting the poll we decided to look at public referendums instead. Every one of the 15 times that red light cameras have come up for a public vote in the USA, they have been voted down. Most recently in November 2010, 5 communities voted against red light cameras at the ballot box, with the largest city yet (Houston, Texas) voting to remove that city's 70 red light cameras.