Red Light Cameras, Your Frustration, and Why They Save Lives

It's a common complaint, I hear and yes, have even lodged myself: red light cameras are ridiculous and a tool cities use just to rake in money through tickets. We like to portray ourselves as victims. After all, our driving is never the problem right?

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It's an easy position until you see the cold hard facts.

Red light cameras save lives.

The proof is in a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It compared the fatality rates from red-light running accidents in cities before and after the cameras were put in. The result, fatalities from red-light running accidents dropped 24%.

I brought this up to a friend of mine and he said, "Yeah, but those cameras are just out to catch you running a red light." To which I said, "Yes. That's the whole idea. Maybe you'll think twice. Maybe you won't run a red light. Maybe you won't get in an accident and kill someone you t-bone."

He just rolled his eyes.

The new studymakes it clear, red light cameras work. And not just at the intersection where they are located. The IIHS found there is a "halo effect" for cities with the cameras. In those cities fatality and accident rates drop around the entire city because drivers are more aware of their driving.

Still, people claim they are the victims. They claim the red light cameras cause accidents because people get nervous in a yellow light and slam on the brakes. And while some of these arguments have some validity, they don't change the fact that if these cameras catch you it's because YOU ran a red light. The camera didn't do it. You did.

Perhaps the people complaining would feel different if they talked with families of those killed by someone who ran a red light. Maybe then, they'd realize the real victims are those following the traffic signals, only to get broadsided by someone running a red. Just a thought.

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