Red Light “Cop Cameras” Reduce Accidents

Red Light “Cop Cameras” Reduce Accidents

Red-light cameras are controversial devices that take identifying pictures of people who run red lights.  These pictures, taken from many angles, often include a picture of the driver, the vehicle’s license plate, and the vehicle’s position in the intersection when the light turned red.  These photos are then used to issue a traffic ticket to the registered owner of the vehicle. 

Red-light cameras are extremely controversial.  Some cities eagerly await the installation of these devices hoping they will reduce accidents, while many consumers are outraged at the system’s defects resulting in unwarranted traffic tickets.  In other criminal cases, some argue, you have the right to confront your accuser, but with red light cameras the accuser is a camera whose accusations are not always accurate.  Some argue the devices are intended to bring in revenue rather than increase safety. 

Some areas of the United States have been using red-light cameras for years.  San Diego, for example, issues more than 60,000 traffic tickets each year from cameras at 19 intersections.  Minneapolis Police began installing red-light cameras three months ago.  The city’s “Stop on Red” campaign involves 12 intersections now armed with red light cameras designed to “catch” people who run red lights and reduce the rate of serious traffic accidents. 

Studies show that 800 deaths and 200,000 injuries are caused every year by drivers trying to beat a red light.  The majority of these victims are pedestrians or other vehicle occupants not trying to run a red.  In Minneapolis, police report that between July 1, 2005 and October 1, 2005 there were 19 accidents at red-camera equipped intersections.  During this period the previous year, there were 41 accidents, officials report.  This indicates a 53 percent reduction in traffic accidents at red-light camera intersections.   Police also say that right-angle accidents have been reduced by over 63 percent in those intersections. 

Officials in Minneapolis believe these statistics prove that cameras are causing people to change their habits, thus increasing safety.  Some residents argue that the people who collect information from these pictures are often careless and issue red-light tickets to innocent people.  The Minneapolis police acknowledge these shortcomings and say they are trying to eliminate these red-light camera problems. 


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