Red-Light Cameras Save Lives but May Increase Rear-End Collisions, Experts Say

Dec 30, 2013 5:37pm

More than 700 people die in the United States every year as a result of motorists failing to stop when the light turns red.

In response, more than 500 communities in 25 states have turned to red-light cameras to deter the offenders. Just the presence of a camera has been found to reduce red-light running by up to 40 or 50 percent.

But they are not without controversy.

Opponents say while they decrease deadly so-called “T-bone collisions,” drivers are more likely to slam on the brakes when they see a camera to avoid paying a fine. This increases less serious, but still dangerous, rear-end collisions.

“I would take the rear end crash any day over a T-bone crash,” Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said.

GTY traffic cameras jtm 131230 16x9 608 Red Light Cameras Save Lives but May Increase Rear End Collisions, Experts Say

                                           (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

Now, some states are turning to a different solution, longer yellow lights. These give drivers more cushion. Florida’s yellow lights will increase by half a second by the end of 2015.

“If you do extend the amber light, you do get a reduction in crashes,” Lund said. “However to get the full benefit to make people to really pay attention you need the red-light camera as well.”

But the best way to stay safe, experts say, is to slow down and be prepared to stop.

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