Traffic Fatalities: The Good and Bad News

As a member of the traffic safety community, NCSR’s ultimate goal is to reduce the number of traffic-related injuries and fatalities that affect American families each year. Sadly, for the first time in six years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that motor vehicle collisions and fatalities increased on U.S. roadways in 2012. The country lost 33,561 people in crashes, an increase of more than 1,000 people from the 32,479 traffic-related fatalities in 2011. This news is troubling not only due to unnecessary loss of life, but also because it reverses a positive trend in public safety.

The one shining beacon in this unfortunate news comes in the Federal Highway Administration’s data that shows fatalities related to red-light running fell nearly five percent from 2011 to 2012, thanks in part to red-light safety cameras. NCSR has found a correlation between the number of communities that utilize this technology and the decrease in red-light running-related deaths. As the number of communities using red-light safety cameras at their intersections continues to grow, fatalities related to running red-lights have seen a steady decrease. The chart below further illustrates the correlation.

Assuming these two trends continue, if only about 2,000 total communities had these safety programs then we could cut the number of needless fatalities to fewer than 250 across the entire country. Camera technology is a necessary tool in reducing collisions and improving driver behavior. Red-light safety cameras continue to prove their effectiveness and should be considered as a critical part of communities’ public safety efforts.