The National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR) announced today that it has formed to advocate for the use of red light safety cameras in cities and communities across the country. Red light safety cameras are part of an emerging body of technology that helps control reckless driving and penalize those who run red lights and violate traffic safety laws.

Independent research credits red light safety technology with saving lives. Earlier this year, a national study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that red light safety cameras saved 159 lives in 2004-2008 in 14 of the nation’s largest cities. The study also found that during the same period an additional 815 deaths could have been saved had the cameras been used in all large U.S. cities.

“The body of evidence grows stronger every day — these cameras save lives and make communities safer,” said NCSR Executive Director David Kelly. “Now is the time to come together and ensure we make the most of these important safety tools. Red light safety cameras make people more aware of their surroundings and help change the way we drive. They have and will continue to save lives where they are being used.”

Kelly, the former acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is joined at NCSR by Ron Reagan. He is the former Speaker Pro Temp of the Florida House of Representatives, where he was instrumental in passing the key Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act. Reagan will be the organization’s Director of National Advocacy and Outreach. John Wintersteen will serve as National First Responder Liaison. Wintersteen has more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement, was chief of police in Paradise Valley, Ariz. and a military police officer serving with the U.S. Marines.

“Our goal is to advance safety for all of us who drive, ride or walk near our streets and highways,” Reagan said today. “I’ve seen red light safety cameras work in Florida — and I want to use my experience to help build national support for this effort. Once you’ve sat with the family of someone who was needlessly killed by a distracted or reckless driver, you realize how easily you could be in their shoes. I hope that we can let the voices of these victims persuade others of the importance of utilizing this technology.”

NCSR is a nonprofit advocacy organization that will bring together industry, community leaders and concerned citizens in support of red light safety technology. NCSR will work with experts — traffic experts, engineers, law enforcement officials and others — to research and analyze the most effective use of road safety cameras, help establish “best practices” for their use, and advocate for their adoption at the national, state and local levels. NCSR was established primarily through the support of American Traffic Solutions, but NCSR anticipates receiving contributions from other organizations interested in promoting public safety awareness.

“Every advance in road safety has had its opponents,” Kelly said. “Seat belts were considered too restrictive. Airbags were too expensive. But once you consider the lives being saved because of the technology, the math changes. We want to make sure that policymakers and the public consider the equation fully. There is too much at stake.”