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Most Big-City Drivers Favor Red Light Cameras

If you run a red light, you could be in a side impact crash, like the IIHS example (2009 Dodge Ram) shown here.

According to a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, opponents of red light cameras are a minority group. Two out of three drivers in 14 large cities favor red light cameras.

These results are an extension of a study the Institute conducted earlier this year, which found that red light cameras save lives. “Researchers looked at U.S. cities with populations over 200,000 and compared those with red light cameras to those without,” the Institute states. “In the 14 cities that had cameras in 2004-08 but didn't have them in an earlier comparison period, automated red light enforcement saved 159 lives. If cameras had been operating in those years in all large U.S. cities, a total of 815 deaths would have been avoided.” To get an idea of the severity of red light crashes, watch this IIHS video.

In the most recent red light study, the IIHS surveyed more than 3,000 people in the same 14 cities by phone, and an additional 300 in Houston, Texas, where 53 percent of voters favored shutting down its red light cameras. With a margin of error of about 2 percent, the IIHS found that “89 percent of drivers who are aware of the camera programs in their cities, a majority say the devices have made intersections safer. Nearly half know someone who has gotten a ticket, and 17 percent have gotten one themselves. Of the latter, about half believe it was deserved.” The majority of drivers, about nine out of 10, think running a red light is unacceptable, and more than eight out of 10 think it is unsafe.

Of the 14-city sample, more than 25 percent of respondents oppose the cameras. When asked why in an open-ended section of the survey, 26 percent responded that cameras are fallible, and another 26 percent say the cameras are about funding, not safety. Seventeen percent say they violate personal privacy, and 19 percent say they don’t make roads safer. 

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