Road designers aiming to ensure that intersections are as safe as possible may need to consider the benefits of adding red light cameras, as a new study has demonstrated that these devices save lives.
Research by the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that when these cameras are switched off, the rate of fatal crashes caused by vehicles running red lights increases by up to 30 per cent.
Overall, it noted that in 2014, this type of incident resulted in 709 deaths and around 126,000 injuries in the US. It was calculated that the implementation of red light cameras has saved nearly 1,300 lives in the 79 large cities that use them.
“Red light cameras are valuable enforcement tools that prevent many dangerous intersection crashes,” stated IIHS president Adrian Lund. “This study confirms that cameras reduce fatal crashes and for the first time quantifies the effect that ending these programs has on safety.”
Automated enforcement in the form of cameras serves as a highly effective deterrent to drivers running red lights, as they greatly increase the odds that violators will be caught compared with traditional police enforcement.
But while the majority of road users are in favour of the systems, IIHS noted that opposition to the devices from a “vocal minority” have led some local authorities to switch off their cameras.
In 2012, some 533 communities in the US operated red-light cameras at intersections, but by 2015, this had fallen to 467.
Mr Lund said: “It’s important to remember that there are hundreds of people walking around who wouldn’t be here if not for red light cameras. Sadly, there are 63 families who are missing a loved one because these life-saving programs were canceled.”