Speeding through a yellow light and driving through a traffic light that just turned red is unacceptable, but it is common motorist behavior. Fatalities from car accidents caused by red-light-running increased by 17 percent between 2012 and 2016, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Intersections are considered one of the most dangerous places on the nation's roads. Red light running through these intersections, however, is a common part of urban crashes. Over half of the fatalities in these accidents are pedestrians, cyclists and occupants of other vehicles hit by traffic light runners. Over 800 people were killed in these accidents in 2016 compared to 696 in 2012.
To combat this problem, U.S. communities are installing right light cameras that photographs violators. However, a decline in their use has been blamed for an increase in these traffic deaths. The number of communities that had programs using these devices dropped from 533 in 2012 to 421 in July 2018.
Although some programs were begun, more were stopped than initiated. A reduction of citations, community opposition and troubles with maintaining the financial sustainability of these programs were the most common reasons for the decline in the use of cameras. Badly-run programs and perceptions that the cameras are used to generate revenue through traffic citations eroded public support. Besides the decrease in camera programs, other reasons were cited for the rise in these red- light running deaths, including the national economic recovery.
However, the IIHS compared trends in fatal crash rates in 14 cities that ended their camera programs during 2010 through 2014, with 29 similar cities that continued these programs. The traffic deaths from red light running was 30 percent higher in cities that ceased using the cameras than it would have been if the devices remained in use. At intersections with traffic signals, the rate was 16 percent greater.