Car accidents caused by drivers running red lights take 800 lives in New Jersey and across the country each year while injuring thousands more people. In many cases, those harmed in these crashes are pedestrians, cyclists and the occupants of other vehicles who had no chance to anticipate a car speeding toward them through a red light. Because running red lights poses such a threat to highway safety, red light cameras have been adopted by many municipalities as a means to crack down on violators while increasing revenue from traffic tickets. The cameras are posted on the lights and take photos of the license plates of cars running through red signals; the drivers later receive tickets in the mail.
While red light cameras seem to have obvious benefits in cutting down on violations, some have criticized the systems. They say that cities install them only to increase revenue without caring about the effects on traffic safety. Some point to Chicago as an example where red light cameras linked to costly fines were installed throughout the city. However, the yellow light timing was also reduced to the lowest allowable by law. After the cameras were installed, rear-end car crashes became more common as drivers sped up to get through the yellow lights and avoid a ticket.
However, research indicates that when used responsibly, red light cameras can be an important tool in increasing safety on the roads. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that cities with the cameras have a 21% lower rate of fatalities linked to red light crashes and 40% fewer violations overall.
Despite the potential of red light cameras and other systems to cut down on violations, people continue to face severe injuries caused by negligent drivers. A personal injury attorney may help people hurt in a motor vehicle accident caused by someone running a red light to pursue compensation.