IIHS Study Shows Red Light Cameras Are Working

 I have written on this blog multiple times about red light cameras and whether they actually make intersections safer for drivers and pedestrians. There have been studies and critics have stated in the past that the cameras are money grab for local governments and that they don’t actually decrease the number of car accidents.

 Well, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (“IIHS”) recently completed a study in Arlington Virginia, which concluded that these cameras are actually decreasing the number of red light infractions. The study found found that red light running rates declined at Arlington, Va., intersections equipped with cameras. The decreases were particularly large for the most dangerous violations, those happening 1½ seconds or longer after the light turned red. “This study provides fresh evidence that automated enforcement can get drivers to modify their behavior,” says Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research at IIHS and the study’s lead author.

 To calculate how the cameras affected violation rates, researchers at the Institute, which is located in Arlington, videotaped traffic during the warning period, a month after ticketing began and again after a year. In addition to the four camera-enforced intersections, videotaping was done at four other intersections in Arlington — two on the same corridors where cameras were located and two elsewhere — to see if there was any spillover effect from the cameras. Four control intersections in neighboring Fairfax County, which does not have a camera program, also were observed.

One year after the start of ticketing, the odds of a red light running violation at the camera locations went down. Violations occurring at least 0.5 seconds after the light turned red were 39 percent less likely than would have been expected without cameras. Violations occurring at least 1 second after were 48 percent less likely, and the odds of a violation occurring at least 1.5 seconds into the red phase fell 86 percent.

Although this is a small sample size in one town in a few specific intersections, the findings are encouraging. I am still skeptical that red light cameras actually make intersections safer. I would like to see a few more studies outside of Arlington and maybe by an organization other than the IIHS before we can determine that red light cameras are a deterrent and do reduce auto accidents.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or a Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, at 312-588-3384 for a free legal consultation.

Is The Transportation Department Focusing On The Safety Issues?

The Wall Street Journal published interesting article about the U.S. Transportation Department and whether they are focusing on the correct safety issues. More specifically, the article calls into question the federal government’s focus on texting and driving and defective Toyotas.  According to Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the U.S. Transportation Department, Congress and the media have gotten sidetracked by issues like texting while driving.

Lund’s organization is the safety research and advocacy arm of the insurance industry. The IIHS has been critical of the government’s highway safety policies over the past few years, usually arguing that the government wasn’t moving fast enough to require better crash-prevention technology from auto makers.  Lund and the Insurance Institute also say recent laws banning motorists from using mobile phones behind the wheel don’t correlate with a significant reduction in accidents. “You’d think from the media coverage, congressional hearings, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s focus in recent months that separating drivers from their phones would all but solve the public-health problem of  car crash  deaths and injuries,” he wrote. “It won’t.”

As for the Toyota sudden acceleration uproar, Mr. Lund says, “a lot of this looks like it may be pedal error”—meaning human error related to design—”so it’s very important that we have research on how pedals could be redesigned.” Congress and the Transportation department have focused more attention on potential problems with vehicle electronics.

The Transportation Department has responded to the IIHS report:

“Safety is the Department of Transportation’s number one priority, which is why we are aggressively and urgently tackling a number of risks to drivers’ safety. We are going to continue taking drunk drivers off the road, getting people to put down their phones and other distractions, making sure cars and trucks are safe to drive, and doing whatever else is necessary to keep Americans safe behind the wheel,” a DOT spokeswoman said in a statement.  In 2008 alone, nearly 6,000 people were killed and more than half a million were injured in crashes involving distracted driving,” the DOT spokeswoman said.

The IIHS report is interesting but I don’t think it is time to ignore the problems with distracted driving and drinking and driving.  Too much progress has been made the last few years to suddenly ignore this issue.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident  or Chicago truck accident , then call Chicago car accident attorney , Aaron Bryant for a free consultation  at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com