No Accident Reduction From Red-Light Cameras

Glowing Pennsylvania report on the automated devices shows gains in revenue, but not in safety


As for the safety impact, facts are far less clear. Out of nineteen camera enforced intersections, the report considered data for only ten intersections.

"Crash experiences for ARLE-controlled intersections varied significantly," the report explained. "Some intersections experienced an increase in overall, angle, and rear end crashes while the others experienced a decrease in overall and angle crashes and a slight increase in rear end crashes. Overall, total crashes declined by just over 24 percent with specific types of crashes also decreasing."

While this is cited as evidence of the benefit of camera use, the streets are not actually safer than they were without cameras. Accidents in the third year following camera installation are not actually lower than in the third year before the devices were ever installed. The committee also made no attempt to examine results at control intersections. Traffic accidents have declined nationwide to an all-time low—including in states that do not allow photo enforcement. That lack of proven benefit has made the devices unpopular.