red-light cameras

Photo courtesy

The city of Austin has cut the number of car crashes at ten of its most dangerous intersections in half. But how?

Red-light cameras that electronically photograph cars running red lights have been set up all over Austin. Over the past three years, these cameras have provided means to give almost 35,000 citations to those dangerous drivers.

Have you ever opened your mail and found a traffic ticket sticking you with a not-so-small fine? If so, your reaction might well have been, "What the [expletive]?"

Then maybe you looked carefully at the enclosed photo and realized the vehicle shown (allegedly) running a red light or speeding was, in fact, yours.

Photo by mirsasha

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.

Image courtesy Josh Liba

Anyone who's driven through a red-light at night and seen the flash of a camera knows the pain of anticipating the fine in the mail.  Since the City of Austin installed its red-light cameras in 2008, more than 28,000 citations have been issued.

In the 2009 and 2010 fiscal years, the city says it raked in almost $1.6 million dollars in fines from red light cameras. After expenses, the profit from those two years was $363,869. The city splits that 50/50 with the state.