New research suggests that red light cameras help to reduce the number of crashes at intersections where they are installed. The study, although limited to Texas, is one of the most extensive thus far in the nation, and researchers say the findings demonstrate that the automated enforcement method offers an effective means of preventing crash-related deaths and injuries.
As part of an ongoing effort, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) authorized the Texas Transportation Institute-Center for Transportation Safety (TTI-CTS) to continue its effort of evaluating the effectiveness of automated traffic enforcement systems at signal controlled intersections. The primary objective of this report was to evaluate and determine the effectiveness that automated traffic enforcement systems have on reducing right angle, rear-end and other crash types at signal-controlled intersections within the state of Texas. The purpose is to provide TxDOT with descriptive information and report the investigative findings surrounding crash incidence at signal controlled intersections that are monitored by this type of enforcement technology.
The analysis, which was limited to the safety aspects of red light camera use, was conducted by the Center for Transportation Safety at the Texas Transportation Institute. Researchers examined more than 11,000 crash records at the 275 intersections statewide where cameras were in place, and compared crash frequencies one, two and three years before and after installation of the cameras.
An overall reduction of 633 crashes recorded at those intersections represents an 11 percent decline statewide. Red light-related crashes dropped by 25 percent, and right-angle crashes (the most severe type) dropped by 32 percent. The reductions were seen across the board on all types of roadways, including: business/primary roads, farm-to-market roads, interstate access roads, state highways and U.S. highways.
In addition to assessing the cameras’ effectiveness according to roadway type, researchers also compared crash frequencies at different intervals before and after cameras were installed. The examination showed a 23 percent drop from one year before to one year after cameras were put into use. The two- and three-year comparisons reflected reductions of 27 percent and 21 percent, respectively.
“These findings show clearly that red light cameras offer significant safety benefits,” says Troy Walden, the author of the TTI study. “Most important, they help prevent the most severe and deadly type of intersection crashes.”
According to federal sources, red light running causes more than 100,000 crashes and 1,000 fatalities every year, and right-angle crashes account for 46 percent of all intersection-related collisions.
The Texas Transportation Institute is a member of the Texas A&M University System. TTI conducts applied research in all modes of transportation with a goal of saving lives, time and resources.
The full report can be found at Evaluation of Photographic Traffic Signal Enforcement Systems in Texas.