Unpopular red light cameras appear to save lives - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Unpopular red light cameras appear to save lives

(NBC) - You might hate them, but it looks like red light cameras might be saving lives.

In 2009, wrecks caused by red light runners killed nearly 700 people and injured another 113,000.

However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released a report Tuesday that indicates those numbers would have been a lot higher were it not for the hundreds of cities now using red light cameras at intersections.

"Their fatal crashes were 25 percent less than would have been expected from red-light-running compared to the cities that did not adopt camera enforcement," said Adrian Lund, IIHS President.

The report says cameras at intersections are saving lives mainly because drivers are also interested in saving money.

"That's what we think the psychology of red light camera enforcement is. It makes people aware that this is an infraction that's going to be enforced and people don't want to get tickets," Lund said. "So they pay more attention when they're approaching intersections."

The Institute estimates if cameras had been in place in all of the country's big cities in a recent five-year period, more than 800 deaths could have been avoided.

Even though critics maintain red light cameras can violate privacy and other rights, more than 500 American cities use them, compared to 25 cities just 10 years ago.

The Institute used data collected from 14 cities that had red light cameras during the five-year period of 2004 through 2008 and compared it to the five-year period of 1992 through 1996 when those same cities did not have the cameras.

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