Washington, D.C.’s red-light cameras have generated more than 500,000 violations and $32 million in fines over six years. Officials say they have made busy roads safer. A Washington Post analysis shows that the number of accidents has gone up at the 45 intersections with the cameras. The increase is the same or worse than at traffic signals without the devices. Three outside traffic specialists independently reviewed the data and said they were surprised by the results. Their conclusion: The cameras do not appear to be making any difference in preventing injuries or collisions.
D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey remains convinced that the devices are worthwhile. Even if the number of crashes is not going down, he said, citations for red-light running have dropped by about 60 percent at intersections that have cameras. Ramsey said the number of accidents would be even higher without the cameras, adding that he would like to install them at every traffic light in the city. He pointed to last year’s steep decrease in traffic fatalities — 45 compared with 69 in 2003 — as evidence that the program is working. Officials attribute the increase in accidents to higher traffic volume. That does not explain why the presence of cameras has failed to slow the rate of accidents at those intersections.