Red light cameras can cause traffic accidents at intersections to drop by 25 percent, according to a new study by the traffic scientists at Texas A&M’s Texas Transportation Institute.
Red light cameras are installed at 275 intersections across Texas. They automatically snap photos of cars that run red lights. The drivers are sent a ticket in the mail.
The traffic-ologists at TTI examined 11,000 crash records from all those red light camera intersections. They found that red light crashes dropped by a quarter, and right-angle or “T-bone” crashes plummeted by 32 percent.
Their study included a look at Austin, and found that red light cameras reduced collisions here by 34 percent.
“These findings show clearly that red light cameras offer significant safety benefits,” study author Troy Walden said in a press release.
The City of Austin spent about $520,000 in 2009 and $710,000 in 2010 to lease or purchase its red light cameras. But it more than recouped that cost in fines.
Now, however, with fewer people running the red lights, the city is reportedly looking at what to do with its cameras.
"Do we want to discontinue the program or maybe move them to a different location?” Mayor Lee Leffingwell told KVUE News in July.
Austin isn’t the only city having this conversation. In the North Texas town of Denton, the cost of operating the cameras exceeds the revenue they bring in, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle. Houston just re-activated its red light cameras last month after concern over a lawsuit that could have cost the city $20 million in damages.