MYTH: Red light safety cameras do not increase safety on roads but instead endanger public:
FACT: Red light safety camera programs reduce crashes, provide levels of safety for police and emergency personnel, and influence drivers to adopt safer driving habits. Each reduction in the number of violations that are captured by red light safety cameras indicates they change driver behavior, thereby decreasing the likelihood of horrific right-angle crashes and the associated injuries and fatalities.
MYTH: Cameras are replacing police officers:
FACT: Red light safety cameras are not a substitute for police officers. The truth is cameras enhance a police department’s ability to enforce traffic laws at crash-prone intersections, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This law-enforcement tool enables police officers more time to deal with other crime, which improves safety in the entire community. The camera programs cost taxpayers nothing. They are completely funded by fines paid by violators. And no citation is issued without police review
MYTH: Yellow light times are too brief:
FACT: Yellow light time is set to optimize safety and traffic flow. Federal guidelines recommend yellow lights last from 3 to 6 seconds. Local authorities set the duration based on many factors including: traffic volume, speed, roadway grade and intersection design.
“Signal cycles that are excessively long can encourage red light running because drivers do not want to have to wait several minutes for the next green interval.” Source: Federal Highway Administration. Issue Brief 6, “Engineering Countermeasures to Reduce Red-Light Running.” November 2009, page 6.
Longer yellow lights are not as effective in changing driver behavior as red light safety cameras. Findings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety published in 2007 show 1 added second of yellow time decreased red-light running violations by 36 percent, but the installation of red-light safety cameras reduced violations an additional 96 percent. http://www.stopredlightrunning.com/pdfs/ReduceRedLt_IIHS_.pdf
MYTH: Cameras issue tickets:
FACT: Police officers determine whether a citation is to be issued after reviewing all the violation evidence.
MYTH: Cameras are used to raise money:
FACT: Red light safety camera programs save lives. Independent, peer reviewed studies prove that camera programs reduce red-light running violations by 40-50 percent and crashes by 30 percent. This fact is irrefutable. The program is paid for completely by violators, not taxpayers. Over time, driver behavior is modified and the number of violations decrease, but the safety benefits to drivers, passengers and pedestrians remain.
The red light safety camera program is set up to be fully funded through fines paid by red-light runners. Taxpayers are not being asked to pay for this system. As driver behavior changes and crashes diminish in number, the city and residents could see a reduction in emergency services and other community expenses. According to the Federal Highway Administration, by reducing crashes, red light safety cameras annually save communities $39,000 to $50,000 in collision-related expenses per location.
MYTH: Cameras cause rear-end collisions to increase:
FACT: Cameras do not cause rear-end collisions, aggressive drivers do! Drivers who speed and who follow too closely to the lead car are to blame for rear-end collisions, according to a 2011 Texas Transportation Institute study.
Red light safety camera programs deter the most dangerous type of collisions, which are the right-angle crashes commonly known as “T-bone” crashes, which typically cause severe injuries and fatalities. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), right-angle crashes are “most closely associated with red light running.” IIHS also reports that red-light runners tend to have multiple speeding convictions.
Independent, peer-reviewed studies prove that camera programs reduce red light running violations by 40-50 percent and crashes by 30 percent. Right-angle T-bone crashes often decrease a few months after camera installation. In fact, they have proven to save lives. IIHS Study: Red light cameras saved 159 lives in 2004-08 in 14 of the biggest US cities.
IIHS found that rear end collisions are usually less severe than front-into-side collisions, so the net effect is positive. http://bit.ly/qJRlg5
MYTH: Cameras are Big Brother invading our privacy:
FACT: Driving is not a private activity; it’s public behavior with the potential of injuring others. As the IIHS puts it, “Neither the law nor common sense suggests drivers should not be observed on the road or have their violations documented.” http://bit.ly/qJRlg5
Court rulings uphold the constitutionality of camera use:
“What a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection.” Katz v. United States, U.S. Supreme Court. 389 US 347, 351 (1967) http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=389&invol=347
“Although cameras … created a privacy issue, those concerns were outweighed by the ‘legitimate concerns for safety on our public streets.’” Agomo v. Fenty. District of Columbia Court of Appeals, 2007. No. 03-CV-813. http://caselaw.findlaw.com/dc-court-of-appeals/1121517.html
“No one has a fundamental right to run a red light or avoid being seen by a camera on a public street.” Idris v. City of Chicago, Illinois. 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, 2009. No. 08-1363 http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1118906.html
Driving is a highly regulated activity that takes place on public roads.
Red light safety cameras are triggered by violations. Unlike general surveillance cameras, they are focused on narrow and legitimate government objectives—deterring traffic violations, thus reducing collisions.
If you don’t want a ticket, don’t run the red light.