Red Light Camera Deaths in Philadelphia

Car Accident Fatalities Caught on Red Light Cameras Go Underreported

Are red light cameras actually helping to prevent deadly car accidents in Philadelphia? According to a recent article in the Philly Voice, there are serious discrepancies in the data being reported from red light cameras and the total number of crashes that have taken place. In other words, it seems as though red light camera traffic collisions have been underreported.

Three new red light cameras were installed recently at intersections in both North and South Philadelphia, and they result in fines of $100 to drivers who run those red lights. A number of local politicians supported the use of the red light cameras, and they argued that these devices help make it safer for drivers and pedestrians in the city. However, opponents of red light cameras undertook a study that suggested “the city of Philadelphia has been underreporting the number of accidents that occur at intersections with red light cameras.” The data in the study came from information collected by PennDOT, along with news stories about traffic collisions in the area.

It might seem like a relatively cut-and-dried assumption that red light cameras would result in fewer accidents. After all, if drivers know that they can and will be caught on camera when they run a red light, then they are less likely to run that red light. However, this may not be the case. When drivers know that they are approaching an intersection with a red light camera, opponents of these devices contend that “drivers shift their focus to the camera itself rather than paying attention to other motorists and pedestrians, which increases the risk of certain kinds of accidents.”

A red light camera program which developed and was instituted in New Jersey several years ago, was shut down last year amidst similar complaints from opponents to those mentioned above.

What are the number of discrepancies that opponents are emphasizing?

  • City Data showed 15 traffic-related fatalities at intersections with red light cameras in 2011, but the PPA only reported six deaths.
  • In 2012, City Data showed seven traffic-related deaths at areas with red light cameras, but the PPA only identified one fatality.

Facts and Figures About Red Light Cameras

Do red light cameras work to prevent serious auto accidents, or should more cities across the country think about getting rid of these devices? Although it is not clear as to whether red light cameras are more beneficial than not,  according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), red light cameras have benefits that should not be ignored. The IIHS reports the following facts and figures:

  • Red light cameras reduce red light violations. At intersections with red light cameras, red light violations occurring within half a second of the light turning red are 39% less likely with a camera.
  • That number increases to 48% for violations occurring one second after the light turns red.
  • Red light violations decrease by 86% when more than 1.5 seconds go by after the light turns red when a camera is present.
  • Red light cameras reduce the number of fatal crashes by 24%.
  • When a red light camera is present, non-fatal crashes decline by 17%.

The benefits of red light cameras in Philadelphia are still a subject of debate. Unfortunately, auto accidents continue to occur. If you suffered an injury in a car accident, contact an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible.

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