Expert Commentary

Red-light cameras for the prevention of road traffic crashes

2005 Imperial College London review of the available scholarship on the impact of red-light cameras on automotive crashes.

Hundreds of communities have installed red-light cameras in an effort to increase safety and reduce injuries, but the real-world results can be difficult to quantify. Some studies indicate that accidents decrease after cameras are installed, while others suggest that they rise.  Many public officials support the use of cameras, while critics accuse municipalities of being more interested in revenue than safety. Some systems are shut down even as others are approved. Voters have shown support — but not for systems in their neighborhoods.

A 2005 review of available scholarship, “Red-Light Cameras for the Prevention of Road Traffic Crashes,” sought to address some of the issues by looking at nearly 600 articles on traffic enforcement.

The authors chose 30 articles for in-depth analysis, and of these, the 10 best, all controlled, before-after studies, were selected for inclusion. The report concludes that:

  • Red-light cameras are effective in reducing casualty crashes at intersections with signals. “In the best conducted of these studies, the reduction was nearly 30%.”
  • The success of any red-light-camera program in reducing accidents and injuries is highly dependent on its design, implementation, and operation.
  • More research is needed to determine best practice for camera sites, signing policies, publicity programs and penalties.

Tags: cars, driving, law, technology, traffic

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