Red light cameras save lives, prevent serious injury

Dec. 12, 2010 at 6:12 a.m.

Editor, the Advocate

It is time to clarify what happens when local governments install red light cameras at intersections. Studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration make clear that the installation of cameras reduces the number of deaths and serious injury crashes at intersections. There is, however, an increase in rear end type crashes because of drivers slamming on the brakes to avoid a camera-generated ticket. This usually means that vehicles hitting a panicked driver who has stopped suddenly were probably following too closely or were inattentive to the situation in front of them.

Serious injury and deaths are avoided because when someone runs a red light, a side impact or left turn frontal crash occurs. This type of crash is much more deadly than a rear end crash. A car hit on the driver's or passenger's door by another car traveling 40 mph will be much more likely to have seriously injured occupants. There is only 6-10 inches of sheet metal and upholstery separating a driver from the front bumper of a car that has run a stop light. In a rear end crash there is usually 6-10 feet of steel and frame separating the driver and passenger from the other vehicle.

A person riding in a modern, well-designed vehicle with properly adjusted headrests and tightly fastened seat belts has excellent protection in a rear end crash, Injuries are usually minor.

Intersection cameras are revenue generating for both the city and the company that installs them. That is not necessarily bad. The city gets additional revenue from drivers who break the law and put the public at risk. The money can be dedicated to law enforcement and all law abiding citizens benefit.

Johnny Sciacca, Ed.D., driver education teacher, Victoria



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