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Increase in Crashes at Intersections with Red-light Cameras

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Although many would have expected a reduction in collision rates in Florida as a result of red-light camera programs, a recently released independent state report shows just the opposite. As demonstrated by the report from the Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Governmental Accountability (OPPAGA), overall collision rates at red light intersections have increased by 12 percent.  Further, when collision rates were distinguished by accident type, the report revealed a 22 percent increase in side-angle crashes, and a 35 percent increase in rear-end collisions.

The Accident and Injury Attorneys of the Law Office Alba & Yochim P.A. take note of the disturbing nature of the findings of this report. We, like most Floridians, were under the impression that the purpose of red-light cameras was to improve safety by reducing red-light intersection collision rates throughout the state. While the study did reveal an 84 percent reduction in side-swipe accidents at red-light intersections, this type of collision is far less common at intersections. Rather, red-light intersections accidents are most commonly associated with side-angle accidents, which as shown in the report, actually increased significantly.

In addition, although the report did show a 49% reduction in fatalities, this simply means that less deaths occurred in red-light intersection collisions and not that less accidents occurred. Further, the reduction in fatality rates can be attributed to many other factors having nothing to do with the implementation of red-light camera programs, such as the presence of more vehicles that are equipped with improved safety features, or other state programs targeted at increasing seatbelt use.

Consequently, when taking into consideration the types of accidents that most commonly occur at red-light intersections, while also factoring in presence of other variables, the question remains—What can be gained from findings of the report in terms of overall effectiveness of red-light camera programs?

Unfortunately, the most positive effect of red-light camera programs seems to be the substantial amount of revenue produced by such programs. In fact, fine collections have increased 200 percent since 2010. Yet, the primary purpose of red-light camera programs was not for revenue production, but rather to improve public safety. Why then, have the most common types of accidents associated with red-light intersections increased by nearly a quarter? It would seem that a logical response to this inquiry might result in serious doubt being cast upon the overall efficacy of red-light programs.

The Accident and Injury attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. remain optimistic that lawmakers will address the overall benefit of red-light camera programs, while also maintaining an emphasis on the most critical issue—public safety.

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