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Red light cameras are saving lives and preventing accidents

While controversial to some, cameras that police intersections with stop lights save lives and prevent car accidents according to a new study released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. According to the study, in 14 of the United States' largest cities red light cameras helped save 159 lives between 2004 and 2008. The study argues that had red light cameras been installed in all large cities in the United States during the same time period, an estimated 815 lives would have been saved.

The researcher that conducted the survey looked at information from 99 cities in the United States with populations over 200,000. The researchers compared the information of cities with red light cameras to the cities that did not. The point of the study was to determine whether the rate of fatal car accidents changed with the use of red light cameras. In order to determine whether a change in the rate of fatal car accidents occurred, the study looked at the car accident information from two different time periods, 2004 to 2008 and 1992 to 1996.

In comparing those two time periods, the study's researchers found that in the cities with stoplight cameras the rate of fatal accidents occurring in those intersections dropped by 35 percent. In cities that did not have red light cameras in either time period crash rates also fell but only by 14 percent. Researchers then surmised that in cities with red light cameras the rate of fatal car accidents was improved by 24 percent. Then the researchers approximated the difference in percentages into approximated crash numbers.

Twenty-four percent fewer car accidents translated into 74 fewer car accidents and 83 lives saved. Red light cameras are a relatively inexpensive way to police intersections and the use of red light cameras is growing. In 2000, the number of cities that used stoplight cameras was 25; now it is 500.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, "Camera enforcement in 14 large cities reduces rate of fatal red light running crashes by 24 percent," 2/1/11

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