Florida releases red-light camera safety report
A new report released by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles indicates that red-light cameras are justifiably controversial. On the one hand, their presence seems to be reducing auto accidents at various intersections. On the other hand, their significant cost may or may not be worth a modest reduction in relatively minor accidents and an increase in accident rates in a minority of jurisdictions.
While Boca Raton has yet to release information on cost v. benefit of its red-light camera, Palm Beach County’s ten cameras have cost that jurisdiction approximately $150,000 more to install than has been generated in fines during the year they have been operational.
In addition to the cost, only some areas are seeing crash reductions at intersections equipped with red-light cameras. In fact, West Palm Beach has lost approximately $200,000 in revenue and has reported that accidents have increased a whopping 45 percent at intersections outfitted with red-light cameras in that area.
However, of 73 jurisdictions that have installed red-light cameras, 41 have indicated that accident rates have dropped in their area since the cameras were installed. Only 11 jurisdictions have explicitly reported that their accident rates have increased since the cameras were installed.
Some experts have speculated that crash rates will continue to decline at intersections outfitted with red-light cameras as motorists become increasingly aware of their presence. However, others are skeptical of this claim. At this time, all Floridians truly know for sure is that red-light cameras will continue to be controversial until longer-term data may be analyzed. In the meantime, we can hope that eventually these expensive pieces of equipment will translate into safer roads for everyone.
Source: Palm Beach Post, “Red-light cameras: state report shows impact on safety, but county, West Palm unsure”, Andrew Abramson, Jan. 4, 2013