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Do red light cameras make the roads safer?

Traffic accidents caused by Iowa drivers running red lights can be deadly. In the United States, around 800 people each year are killed in collisions caused when one driver ran a red light, and many thousands more suffer severe injuries. Over half of the victims in these crashes are pedestrians, cyclists and people in other vehicles. As a result, many cities across the country have looked for solutions to make the roads safer. Red light cameras offer one means of cracking down on drivers running red lights while also increasing revenue for the city. The cameras are mounted atop traffic lights and capture the image of a car's license plate if it goes through a red light. Later, drivers receive a ticket in the mail.

Some red light camera systems have come in for criticism. Drivers say that the cameras don't make the roads safer and tend to catch people who just missed a yellow light rather than those responsible for serious car accidents. Critics also say that the cameras are a revenue-enhancing initiative rather than one that promotes safety.

Particular implementations of the cameras have experienced problems. For example, in Chicago, the installation of the cameras was combined with an adjustment of yellow light timing to the lowest possible by law. As a result, cars would speed up to get through the yellow lights or slam on the breaks to avoid a ticket. Rear-end car crashes went up after these cameras were installed with the altered yellow light timing. Still, experts argue that the cameras have a role to play in roadway safety and that following good practices in implementing them can help cut down on the number of life-threatening motor vehicle accidents.

Too many people continue to be seriously injured each year by negligent drivers, including those who run through red lights. A personal injury attorney may help accident victims to pursue compensation for their damages.

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Hixson & Brown, P.C.
160 South 68th Street
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