Do Red Light Cameras Increase Rear-End Collisions?

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We have all been through it—you are driving towards a busy intersection when the green light suddenly turns yellow. What do you do? Slow down to try and stop in time? Hit the gas to try and make it through the intersection before the light turns red? If you think you have your answer, add this to the equation—what if you know there is a red light camera ready to snap a photo of your car resulting in a costly fine? The decision you or the driver in front of you makes in that situation could possibly lead to a rear-end collision.

Red light cameras started popping up in cities across the country in the 1990s in an effort to try and increase public safety. If a camera catches a vehicle going through an intersection after the light has turned red, a picture is taken and the vehicle owner is issued a ticket through the mail. The fine for the violation plus any administrative fees tacked on to the ticket can become quite expensive.

Do red-light cameras make a difference though when it comes to public safety? Many cities that put red light cameras into place have since abandoned the program. Critics maintain the cameras actually increase the number of accidents at an intersection and are only there to generate money. Multiple studies on red-light cameras show there is a decrease in the number of collisions where the front of one vehicle hits the side of another vehicle. However, while those numbers decrease, the number of rear-end accidents usually increases. One example can be found in the city of Chicago. After cameras were installed, there was a 15% decrease in injuries from right angle crashes and a 22% increase in injuries involved in rear-end collisions.

A group of residents in Suffolk County, NY, are trying to get their point across that red light cameras are simply a “money grab” to generate revenue. The county’s recently released red light camera report shows 55% more tickets were issued in 2014 than in 2013 as the program expanded. That is a revenue jump from $5 million to $28 million. And once again, the number of front-to-side collisions in camera intersections went down by 20%, but rear-end collisions in the same areas skyrocketed by 42%.

Motor vehicle accidents of any kind can be dangerous and result in a serious injury. It remains to be seen if more city and state officials will take into account the number of rear-end collisions when considering the fate of red-light cameras on their roads. If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, including a rear-end collision, do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C., to help recover the damages you may be entitled to.