lot of controversy surrounding the use of red light cameras. Many drivers
believe the system is used just to generate revenue, and has the potential to
be abused. On the other hand, there are also red light camera advocates. But
even advocacy can be abused, as American Traffic Solutions business executive
Bill Kroske learned after being suspended for trolling internet
sites to promote his company's red light camera products.
All abuse aside, a new study from the University of Missouri has found that
red light cameras do prevent injuries and accidents, making them a valuable
tool for road safety.
Carlos Sun, study leader and an associate professor of civil engineering in the
University of Missouri College of Engineering, has researched a collection of
studies that provide red light camera statistics and information, and found
that red light cameras can do more good than
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, running red
lights accounts for 883 fatalities and 165,000 injuries annually, and that
one-third of all traffic fatalities involves speeding.
But Sun has found that red light cameras are cutting these numbers down, and
that the devices are creating a "spillover effect," meaning that
drivers are not only abiding by traffic laws at lights with cameras, but are
also beginning to do the same with lights that do not have cameras.
"A red light camera is not a panacea for traffic problems; it is a very
effective tool for safe and efficient transportation," said Sun.
"Just like any other tool, it should be used responsibly in the proper
situation. The decision to use automated traffic enforcement tools requires a
balancing act, but we shouldn't take away an effective tool just because of the
potential for abuse."
While Sun believes red light cameras are a useful solution for traffic accidents, he
also believes that the potential for abuse is still there, but can be resolved
through the legal system. The fact that third party vendors install and operate
the cameras in some cases could cause concern amongst drivers, such as when
Kroske posed as a normal citizen promoting his company's products to benefit
himself rather than the public.
Sun suggests that state legislators develop laws that regulate privacy,
jurisdiction and operation of the red light cameras. Sun also notes that schemes
to generate revenue are very unlikely.
"There are many parties from separate branches of the government involved
in the operation of an intersection," said Sun. "If people wanted to
create a scheme to make money, it would have to involve many people who all
have a charge to do their duty well. The irony of red light camera enforcement is that if people obeyed
the law, the revenue wouldn't be generated."