Red light cameras have been installed in various communities in more than a dozen states including Arizona, Georgia, California, Texas and New York. These electronic tools are being used to combat the problem of red light running at dangerous intersections.
Debating the use of cameras
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says that more than 900 people a year die and nearly 200,000 are injured due to vehicles running red lights. About half of these deaths are pedestrians and occupants in other vehicles who are hit by red light runners.
Supporters of red light cameras claim that the equipment makes roads safer by discouraging those who would drive through red lights, while critics argue - among other things -- that dangerous conditions at intersections often stem from poor engineering and that the cameras simply are a way to boost government coffers at driver expense.
"Crashes involving red light runners are often lethal because they almost always involve one car striking another from the side," explained Loretta Worters of the Insurance Information Institute, in New York. "The chances of being severely injured or killed are higher in side-impact collisions because car doors offer less protection to vehicle occupants than the front or rear of the car."
Worters isn't the only auto insurance industry representative who talks up the merits of red light cameras. "You can't have a cop at every corner to ticket drivers for moving violations, but you can have a red light camera to catch people in the act," says Dan Kummer, director of auto insurance for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America in Des Plaines, Ill. Law-abiding motorists should have no fear of red light cameras, because they are stopping at red lights.
Lower insurance rates for those who obey
"Red light cameras are designed to take the picture of those who go through a red light," Kummer continued. "Those who obey the rules of the road and stop at stop lights tend to have fewer accidents and better driving records. Therefore, they pay lower insurance rates than those who are either in too big a hurry to stop at a stop light or drive through thinking they can get away with it."
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