Red Light Cameras Increase Total Crashes, Decrease Right Angle Crashes

Red Light Cameras Increase Total Crashes, Decrease Right Angle Crashes

Based on operational data collected by the City of Tallahassee, listed in the table below, the use of red light cameras has resulted in more crashes at red light camera intersections three years after the implementation than three years before.

Total crashes increased from 377 before implementation to 509 after implementation. More specifically, rear-end crashes increased from 231 to 360, while right angle crashes decreased from 23 before implementation to 15 after implementation.

City Staff will report to City Commissioners that, “while rear-end crashes may increase, the overall crash harm to the victims is significantly reduced with the installation of red light cameras because rear-end crashes tend to be less severe than right-angle crashes which tend to occur when someone runs a red light.”

City Staff reported that the number of overall injuries from accidents decreased from 90 to 58. However, City staff did not provide any details on the nature of the injuries suffered in the crashes or the number of injuries associated with right angle crashes.

Red Light Camera Intersection Crashes Before and After Activation

 Rear End CrashesRight Angles CrashesOther CrashesTotal Crashes
Before Activation23123123377
After Activation36015134509

The City of Tallahassee began a Red Light Camera Safety Program on July 1, 2010. Currently, there are 19 red light safety cameras in operation at seven intersections within the City.

Over the three year period of operation the City issued 20,122 violations in 2011, 16,632 in 2012, and 16,386 in 2013.

As of Sept. 2013, the City has collected approximately $6.3 million in fines. However, only $487,000 of the $6.3 million stayed in Tallahassee. Just under $3 million went to the vendor ACS and $3.2 million went to the state of Florida. The remaining $487,000 was transferred to the City’s General Fund.

City Staff indicates that the focus of the program is to reduce the number of right angle crashes and thus reduce the number of injuries.

Is the program cost-effective in avoiding right angle crashes and injuries?

The reduction in right angle crashes from 23 to 15 translates into approximately $787,000 in fines to avoid each right angle crashes and the reduction in injuries from 90 to 58, translates into approximately $196,875 in fines to avoid each injury.

To calculate a more definitive cost-effective assessment, data on the cost of the injuries and the crashes would have to be made available.

The City Staff reported that “the City of Tallahassee does not have plans to expand the Red Light Camera Safety Program.  City staff will continue to monitor the program and review violation data from the existing cameras to determine if any changes are needed.”

5 Responses to "Red Light Cameras Increase Total Crashes, Decrease Right Angle Crashes"

  1. For a fraction of cut, city of Tallahassee is endangering their citizens. And I am sure they will continue ignoring the reality.

  2. Mr. Henry’s analysis of the RLV angle crashes versus all angle crashes is important, and is almost certainly the reason Tallahassee hides the data.

    ALSO, any “safety program” that increases total crashes by 35% (377 up to 509) CANNOT be said to be motivated by safety. You do NOT set up programs to increase crashes and call them “safety programs”.

    James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association

  3. The use of “right angle” or “side-impact” crashes is disingenuous. This type of crash is most often caused by failure to yield, not a red light violation (RLV). All crash reports are coded for cause- so it is easy to determine what violation caused the crash. For some reason, this is very difficult for cities to disclose as an actual number. Only one in Florida has done so- Clearwater, which saw RLV crashes for equal periods double from 3 to 6, and total crashes skyrocket from 40 to 132 at their two camera scheme intersections.

    The focus of the program is revenue- and as the numbers reveal the state and the camera scheme vendor are really cashing in here. Support SB 144 and HB 4003 that will repeal the camera scheme.

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