TRAFFIC CAMS: Red light camera use down 6% across U.S.

Failure to improve safety, role as revenue-generating tool among the main arguments against the technology

March 03, 2014

Long a source of controversy, a study released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) this week revealed the number of communities using the technology has dropped to 508 nationwide—a decline of 6% since 2012.

Original arguments in favor of the cameras centered on increased safety at intersections; individual studies conducted by various communities, however, demonstrate the opposite sometimes occurs. In Brick, N.J., for example, statistics showed that since cameras had been installed in 2010, crashes at those intersections actually increased.

A similar study in Florida showed rear-end collisions at camera-monitored intersections jumped 35% since the first use of red light cameras in 2010; the total number of crashes increased 12% in the same time period. 

The other issue surrounding red light cameras is their role in catching traffic violations. This has allowed many cities and towns to increase ticket revenue without hiring additional police officers. Many of those same cities and towns, however, have had to deal with complaints from drivers about being falsely ticketed.

As one example, Miami’s red light camera system issued $5.8 million in traffic citations in fiscal year 2012-2013, according to a study by the Florida legislature