In yet another example of the risks involved with removing red-light safety cameras from dangerous intersections, a new report shows a 30 percent increase in fatal traffic collisions and a 117 percent increase in total traffic crashes at 51 intersections in Houston where red-light safety cameras once stood.
The National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR) is shining light on new figures from the Houston Police Department that show total traffic collisions more than doubled from 4,147 in 2006-2010 when cameras were in use to 8,984 in 2010-2014, when cameras were not in operation. The city ended its red-light safety camera program in 2010. During the same time period, fatal crashes rose from 10 to 13, and major crashes rose nearly 85 percent, from 1,391 to 2,568.
Independent research in Texas and Virginia indicates Houston’s experience is not unexpected:
- According to the Texas Transportation Institute, in 2010, total intersection crashes increased about 64 percent, and red-light running crashes occurred three times more frequently in the city of Garland, Texas, after red-light safety cameras were removed.
- In Virginia Beach, Virginia, red-light running events increased 11.3 percent one month after cameras were taken down. With cameras in place, the red-light running rate was 3.1 percent, according to a 2013 study from Old Dominion University.
Reports from other cities further reveal how quickly drivers return to their dangerous red-light running behavior once camera programs end:
- In Kansas City, Missouri, red-light running incidents increased nearly 33 percent from December 2012 to the same month in 2013, the first month with cameras inactive.
- When Pima County, Arizona, ended its speed camera program, the number of drivers speeding more than 11 mph over the posted speed limit increased 1,000 percent from 2013 to 2014.
- When construction work forced the city of Jersey Village, Texas, to remove 10 red-light safety cameras, traffic collisions increased 28 percent at those locations. Citywide, crashes increased 9 percent.
“Red-light running is a significant issue in the United States, often contributing to collision-related fatalities,” says NCSR President Melissa Wandall. “No family should suffer the loss of a loved one due to someone’s careless decision to speed through a red light. Our hearts go out to the Houston families who lost loved ones to traffic deaths or injuries.”
The red-light safety cameras are designed to change driver behavior and promote better adherence to traffic laws, resulting in fewer injuries and collision-related deaths. “If even one life is saved, these cameras are doing their job,” Wandall said. “I only wish they had stayed put in Houston, so we wouldn’t be here today talking about an increase in collisions.”
For more information on NCSR, visit NCSRSafety.org. For more information on the findings from the Houston Police Department, visit http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Crashes-double-at-Houston-intersections-after-red-5852853.php.
The National Coalition for Safer Roads helps save lives and protect communities by demonstrating how red-light safety cameras can improve driver behavior. NCSR brings together policymakers, community leaders and concerned citizens in support of red-light safety cameras, advocating for their use in cities and communities across the country. The National Coalition for Safer Roads is a 501 (c)(6) industry trade association. To learn more, please visit www.NCSRsafety.org, follow @SaferRoadsUSA on Twitter and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SaferRoadsUSA