Automated cameras have monitored some intersections throughout Florida since the legislature authorized them in 2010. Authorities released the first reports regarding whether they actually accomplish the safety goal of cutting back on intersection crashes. The results look promising for supporters of more camera usage: more than half of reporting law enforcement agencies reported a significant drop in accidents at camera intersections.
This new report is based on data on car accidents in several Florida cities, including Miami. Out of 73 reporting agencies, 41 said that camera-monitored intersections reduced the number of accidents. Only 11 agencies said that crashes increased. These results seem to support the argument that public awareness of cameras encourages drivers to take red and yellow traffic lights more seriously.
As one camera company spokesman told the Miami Herald, "[d]rivers pay more attention and drive more safely when they know an intersection is being monitored 24 hours per day seven days per week, and that's not something many police departments have the manpower to do."
Despite some ideological opposition to red-light cameras as government intrusions on privacy (the same argument used to reject a texting-and-driving ban in Florida), these statistics will likely bolster more support for more cameras across the state. To the extent that they really do cut back on dangerous intersection crashes, this will be a positive development for Florida.
Source: The Miami Herald, "Report: Crashes at red-light camera intersections are down," Brittany Alana Davis, Jan. 3, 2013