Red Light Cameras and Intersection Collisions – The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

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Chances are that you have encountered driving through a city that has placed red light cameras at intersections.  The stated purpose is to increase safety at intersections by imposing a penalty for those drivers who run red lights.   The penalty fine varies from place to place but is typically $50 or $100 for a violation.  If not paid timely, then the fine amount doubles in most locations.

The Good.  When driving through an intersection, it is nice to know that other drivers may be less likely to run a red light if they fear being fined for that bad driving habit.  We know that 40% of the roughly 6 million car crashes that occur in the United States every year are intersection-related crashes.  Various surveys and data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warn us that intersections can be dangerous places.  If red light cameras cause drivers to be more careful not to enter an intersection on a red light, then that should be a good thing for all of us.

The Bad.  While red light cameras may make drivers more reluctant to enter an intersection on a red light, they can create situations where drivers slam on their brakes to avoid getting a ticket resulting in rear end collisions near these red light camera equipped intersections.  A review of studies on the topic by the Federal Highway Administration supports the conclusion that red light cameras reduce the number of right angle (T-bone) crashes, but also increase the number of rear-end collisions.  As a result of the conflicting safety data, many cities have removed previously placed red light cameras and at least 9 states have banned them altogether from being used.

The Ugly.  A more sinister view of these red light cameras has to do with the amount of money that is generated from the fines.  City governments have come under fire as the public considers the placement of these cameras to simply be another tax upon the people.  Owners of the red light camera equipment make deals with local governments to share in the revenue generated by the tickets and the local governments are tempted to accept an extra revenue stream when budgets are already stretched tight.  As an example, the red light cameras installed in Greenville, North Carolina generate approximately 3,391 citations per month, or gross revenue of $339,100 per month.  With that kind of money involved, the motives can quickly be shifted from an interest in safety to a monetary interest by the local governments.  The public is right to question whether the trade-off is worthwhile.  That is, does a decrease in T-bone collisions justify an increase in rear end collisions and what amounts to yet another method of the government separating its citizens from their hard earned money?

At the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor, we are committed to improving the safety of our roads for our friends, our families, and the citizens of North Carolina and South Carolina.  We think it is necessary for people to have complete information and to be fully informed on the issues that impact our daily lives, like simply driving around and living life.  Red light cameras can have some benefit, but they also come at a price with increased injuries from rear end collisions and costly fines that take money away from families who need to make ends meet.

So, if you live in a city that has these red light cameras, learn where they are located.  Then, give yourself a little extra distance between you and the car ahead of you so that you can come to a slow and controlled gradual stop without hitting the car in front of you and without slamming on your brakes so that the car behind you can also make a slow gradual stop without hitting you from behind.

Our first piece of advice is to modify your driving around these red light cameras so that a wreck never happens.

Our second piece of advice is, call an experienced attorney like the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor if a wreck does occur so that your rights are protected.

Whether red light cameras are good, bad, or ugly, you can count on the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor to assist you or your family when you have been involved in a wreck.  Call one of our conveniently located offices across North Carolina and South Carolina at 1-800-351-3008 if you ever have the need to talk with a lawyer about something that happened to you while you were driving.

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