Red Light/Green Light: Traffic Cameras Divide Americans


Across the country, one issue mirrors the nation’s partisan divide: using cameras to catch drivers who speed or run red lights, says USA Today. Some communities embrace the devices and pass laws to allow them; others protest their presence or enact laws to abolish them. Advocates of cameras say automated traffic enforcement is going to be increasingly necessary as the nation seeks further reductions in road deaths. Many Americans, however, view traffic cameras warily and suspect they are used chiefly to generate revenue.

The effectiveness of camera enforcement is one of the most hotly debated topics in traffic safety. A federal study found that red-light cameras cause a 25% decrease in broadside crashes and a 15% increase in less deadly rear-end crashes. A review of studies worldwide found that speed cameras reduce crashes by up to 51%. Red light cameras are used in 441 communities in 25 states and the District of Columbia and speed cameras in at least 56 communities in 12 states and D.C., the Insurance Institute says. At least six states – Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire and West Virginia – prohibit camera enforcement.

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