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“They See You When You’re Speeding”: The Debate on Red Light Cameras

red-light-camerasWhat part of our daily lives is always in the Christmas spirit? Traffic lights. They happily blink red and green all year long, stopping and starting traffic safely for millions. It’s that unseasonal yellow light that causes problems—drivers stomp on their gas pedals to speed through intersections before that yellow light flickers back to red. The race against the lights can shave an extra minute or two off your morning commute—or it can result in a possibly deadly car accident.

Many cities across America installed red light cameras over the past two decades to try to discourage red-light runners. As all-knowing as Santa, red light cameras see everything that happens in the intersection and can record the license plates of drivers running red lights, making it easy to serve those drivers tickets. But some recent studies have called into question whether red light cameras are effective.

red light cameras car accidentsPositives of Red Light Cameras

A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows that red light cameras are saving lives. The IIHS looked at 57 cities with populations over 200,000 who had kept red light cameras in service between 1992 and 2014, comparing crash data in those cities to 33 other cities that had never installed cameras. Compared with cities without cameras, cities with cameras had:

  • 21% fewer fatal red-light-running crashes per capita
  • 14% fewer crashes of all types at signalized intersections
  • 1,296 lives saved while the cameras were in operation

In particular, running red lights can result in dangerous T-bone crashes where one vehicle directly hits the side of another. T-bone crashes are deadlier than others and are one of the most likely to cause death or severe injuries, according to the Associated Press. Red light cameras might cause more rear-end crashes since drivers who race through the intersection are likely to hit the car in front of them, but those crashes are usually minor and less fatal than T-bones.

Preventing accidents saves money in the long run by freeing up police, fire, and rescue personnel for other duties, driving down insurance costs, and increasing productivity by avoiding traffic jams caused by crashes.

red light car accidentsNegatives of Red Light Cameras

Within just a few years of installing the cameras, 158 cities abandoned the strategy. Why? Many citizens complained that red light cameras were simply designed to generate revenue through tickets for cities, not save lives, according to PBS.

Indiana law prohibits the use of speed or red light cameras. In 2008, the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Indiana issued a memo stating that “unless expressly granted authority by statute, a local governmental entity’s passage of a red light camera ordinance would be an invalid attempt to locally regulate conduct that is already regulated by a state agency.”

How Does This Affect Hoosiers?

Red light cameras have another use beyond their intended purpose: they can collect evidence during accidents. However, since Indiana does not use red light cameras, the task of proving that an accident was not the result of your own negligence becomes even more of a challenge.

attorneyWith no photographic evidence available, many accident victims turn to car accident lawyers to:

  • Communicate with the other driver’s insurer
  • Obtain necessary evidence of liability
  • Organize medical records and bills
  • Communicate with healthcare providers
  • Organize and presenting evidence to prove liability
  • Negotiate with health, disability, or workers’ compensation insurer to reduce liens
  • Negotiate with insurance adjusters

Red light cameras aren’t only about money—they are about saving lives. Personal injury claims aren’t only about money either. They are about rebuilding lives that have been damaged in a motor vehicle crash.

You may not have red light cameras to provide evidence for your case, but our car accident lawyers are here to help you get the justice you deserve. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in an Indiana car accident, call Hensley Legal Group today for a free, no-obligation consultation.