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Directions in Highway Safety Cover - Summer 2011 Download Newsletter pdf
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Summer 2011 | Vol. 13 | No. 2

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IIHS Safety Study Shows Two-Thirds of the Public Support Red Light Cameras

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released a study revealing new data that two-thirds of the public support red light cameras. The Institute’s study consisted of surveys of drivers in 14 major cities across the United States. These cities include: Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Chicago; and San Diego. All 14 cities have implemented long-standing camera programs. Only one city voted in favor of removing red light camera: in a November 2010 referendum, the citizens of Houston voted to shut off the city’s red light cameras. Red light cameras have reduced fatal red light running crashes by an average of 24 percent in the 14 cities surveyed, IIHS noted.

Speed cameraMore than 3,000 people were interviewed by telephone in the 14 cities studied. An additional 300 people were interviewed in Houston because of that city’s recent vote. IIHS found that the majority of drivers throughout the group favored the implementation of red light cameras and thought that running a red light is, “unacceptable and a serious threat to personal safety.”

Most drivers believe that these devices have made cities safer. However, IIHS notes there is a vocal group who believe that red light cameras are a violation of privacy. These opponents seem to be a vocal minority in most cities throughout the U.S., as only one quarter of the people interviewed opposed the installation of the red light cameras. The overwhelming opinion of these people was that red light cameras were being used as a way for the government to make profit. The questions were opened-ended so citizens could give any answer.

On the other hand, the study found less support for the use of cameras to crack down on right-on-red violations. Nearly a fifth of the people surveyed said they support red light cameras but do not support right-on-red cameras.

According to a past IIHS study, red light cameras could potentially save more lives. Researchers had looked at cities with a population over 200,000 and compared those cities with red light cameras to cities without. Over 150 lives were saved between 2004 and 2008 in those cities that had red light cameras implemented. If all 14 cities surveyed had red light cameras implemented in that time span, a total of 815 deaths could have been prevented.

For more information about this survey visit: