New Study Says Red Light Cameras Do Not Always Prevent Crashes

Red Light Cameras May Increase the Risk of Car Accidents in Some New York Areas 

Do red light cameras actually improve driving safety and prevent car accidents? According to a red light camera study reported in, red light cameras in some New York areas may actually cause drivers to be more likely to be involved in a dangerous accident. The study commissioned by The Suffolk County Department of Public Works says that more motor vehicle collisions occur in areas where red light cameras are installed. The report indicated that, in Suffolk County alone, “the number of total crashes at the 100 active red light camera locations increased by 59.6%, from 3515 to 5612.”

Many areas install red light cameras with the aim of improving traffic safety and reducing the total number of car accidents. As the report underscores, when red light cameras are installed, cities often receive studies that project a “reduction in fatal and injury crashes at camera intersections.” 

But recent data collected by the county does not seem to support the idea that red light cameras make intersections safer for motorists, bicyclists, or pedestrians. A total of 15 intersections with red light cameras had higher rates of serious and fatal car crashes. Only two of these intersections also saw an increase in car traffic that could explain why there was a rise in collisions, apart from the installation and use of red light cameras.

 Why would the installation of red light cameras actually cause more accidents? As the report suggests, more drivers stop short at these lights to avoid getting a ticket, but the drivers behind them often expect that they will  drive through a yellow light. The data reveals that there was a “massive increase in rear end and total collisions” in areas where many red light cameras had been installed. In total, accident rates in these intersections rose by more than 12%.

Getting the Facts About Car Accidents at Intersections and Red Lights 

What are some ways to stay safe when approaching intersections on a motorcycle or motor vehicle? The following is a list of intersection safety tips from the New York Department of Motor Vehicles to promote safety and reduce the risk of injuries at traffic lights and intersections. 

  • Be prepared and look ahead; anticipate errors by other drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians and consider what you will do if an error occurs;
  • Do not assume that a driver approaching a STOP or YIELD sign will actually stop or yield; watch them to ensure you make the best driving decision based on your surroundings; 
  • Maintain the correct speed and slow down if necessary;
  • Signal before you turn or change lanes;
  • Allow space between vehicles in front of you; 
  • Wear your seat belt;
  • Do not drive if you are very weary, are on medication or have been drinking beverages that contain alcohol;
  • Keep your vehicle in good condition, including brakes;
  • Do not use hand held mobile devices while driving;
  • Yield to traffic headed toward you when you turn left into a driveway, parking lot or other area.

 If you or someone you love were injured in a car accident such as a rear-end collision, you should contact a car accident attorney to learn more about your options.

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