Melissa Wandall is the President of the National Coalition for Safer Roads and a nationally recognized traffic safety advocate who was instrumental in passing Florida’s Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act, named in memory of her husband who was killed in a red-light running collision.
Recent coverage by the TODAY show has once again put the red-light safety camera debate in the national spotlight. Each time another study comes out showing how cameras save lives, vocal opponents try to shift the message away from safety by focusing on the “financial burden” of reckless red-light runners.
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The people made to pay a fine because they drive carelessly aren’t victims. My husband, Mark, was a victim. Several years ago he and my brother were on the way home, stopped at an intersection about a mile from our house, when another driver blew through a red light. My brother was critically injured. Mark died instantly. I was 9 months pregnant.
“We are all working toward the same goal: protecting our communities and keeping our streets as safe as possible for all drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.”
From that moment my mission as a traffic safety advocate began. Today, I stand with NCSR, police departments, traffic officials and safety advocates from the more than 540 U.S. communities who currently operate camera programs. We are all working toward the same goal: protecting our communities and keeping our streets as safe as possible for all drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.
In red-light safety camera programs we have the tools to help make this happen.
Research and reactions across the country demonstrate the effectiveness of safety camera programs:
- A 2011 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) study of large U.S. cities found the cameras reduced the rate of fatal red-light running collisions by 24 percent.
- A recent IIHS study of a program in Arlington, Va. found an 86 percent decline in collisions that happen about 1.4 seconds into the red light cycle — the most dangerous type.
- In Pohatcong Township, N.J., residents voted in favor of keeping the safety cameras beyond the original contract expiration date of 2016.
And in Florida, my home state, a recent report found that 56 percent of the communities with programs experienced a reduction in crashes at intersections with safety cameras. The Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act, named in honor of my husband, ensures that part of the fines collected from red-light runners goes toward local trauma centers and research centers dealing with paralysis — a terrible consequence of many red-light crashes. Learn more on Florida programs from this video.
The bottom line is that people who illegally run red lights must be held accountable. They endanger not only themselves, but everyone on the road. They aren’t victims — the victims are the people killed in red-light running collisions and the loved ones left behind.
RELATED: Press Release
The National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR) helps save lives and protect communities by demonstrating how red-light safety cameras can improve driver behavior.