Recently a study was done to determine if the use red light cameras decreased the amount of fatalities associated with running red lights. The study has been found to be extremely flawed. However, it still reported its findings.
The study was conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Their research study compared red light running traffic fatality rates between cities that has red light camera (RLC) programs with cities that did not.
When the results were correctly interpreted, they were found to show that cities using Red Light Cameras had an estimated higher rate of red light running fatalities even after the cameras were installed than cities that did not use Red Light Cameras. This suggests that other interventions were more effective in lowering fatality rates at signalized intersections.
A similar study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) used actual Red Light Camera sites and traffic volume estimates, instead of using entire cities that might use red light cameras at one or two intersections.
For example, the study done by the IIHS would have included all of the red light running fatalities for the entire city of Sarasota, whereas the study done by the NHTSA would only have used the data for red light running fatalities for intersections where a red light camera is in use.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety profits from the use of red light cameras, so it can be suggested that they would produce a study that would make their product (red light cameras) sound like it is necessary.
Intersections using Red Light Cameras typically shorten Yellow Light Timings so that drivers cannot stop before the light turns to red, thus generating a ticket. With every ticket generated, the IIHS stands to receive some sort of profit. The IIHS is supported and funded by auto insurance companies with a financial interest in traffic tickets.
Red Light Cameras can encourage drivers to stop abruptly in attempts to avoid a ticket, which is hazardous and known to increase rear-end crashes.
Transportation Engineers recommend that when red light running is an issue at a particular intersection, the yellow light timing can be lengthened.
Next time you are approaching an intersection with a Red Light Camera, think about the financial burden it would be if you were to run the red light. Then think about what else may be affected if you were to run a red light. Stop putting money into the pockets of insurance companies by running red lights!