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3/16/2005
US Intersection Fatalities and Camera Enforcement
Many types of intersection fatalities would not be prevented by red light cameras.

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Red light cameras are promoted as devices that "save lives," but a review of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data shows that many of the fatal accidents at intersections would not have been stopped by red light camera enforcement. For instance, a driver being pursued by police officers isn't likely to stop because there is an intersection camera. Nor is a drunk driver or someone who is ill or blacked out likely to be concerned with getting a ticket in the mail.

Alcohol was one of the most significant factors in intersection accidents, accounting for 20 percent of fatalities. Taken together, factors unlikely to be affected by camera enforcement accounted for as many as 30 percent of fatal intersection accidents -- and bad weather is a factor in 47 percent (p. 126).

Moreover, some red light cameras specifically target drivers who turn right on without coming to a complete stop. According to the report, only five fatal accidents nationwide were caused by turning right on red in 2000 -- and three of those accidents were caused by adverse weather conditions.

Key Statistic:
Specifically, the percentages of violating light vehicle drivers who were charged with alcohol involvement were broken down as follows:
- 20.7% of drivers in failure to obey crashes at traffic signals.
- 11.5% of drivers in failure to yield crashes at traffic signals. [p. 70]

Inattention or distraction was reported for about 11.0% of all violating light vehicles in two vehicle fatal crossing path crashes. Specifically, this factor was associated with:
- 10.0% of light vehicle drivers who failed to obey the traffic signal, mostly in SCP
crashes.
- 8.9% of light vehicle drivers who failed to yield the right-of-way at traffic signals,
mostly by left-turning vehicles in LTCP crashes. [p. 63]

Speeding or racing, including police chase, was related to 6.4% of all violating light vehicles in two-vehicle fatal crossing path crashes. Specifically, speeding was mostly dominant in the SCP crash scenario and was cited to:
- 15.1% of light vehicle drivers who failed to obey the traffic signal.
- 2.1% of light vehicle drivers who failed to yield at traffic signals. [p. 64]

As indicated above, speeding was mostly associated with failure to obey violations at traffic signals or stop signs. Vision obscured was reported in 3.0% of all violating light vehicles in two vehicle fatal crossing path crashes:
- 1.4% of light vehicle drivers who failed to obey the traffic signal.
- 2.1% of light vehicle drivers who failed to yield at traffic signals. [p. 64]




Article Excerpt:
Four most common factors dominated in 1999 and 2000 FARS: inattention, reckless driving, speeding, and vision obscured. [p.63]

Crash contributing factors were determined for all light vehicles that violated the signal or stop sign based on the pre-crash maneuver that the vehicle was trying to perform. Contributing factors examined include:
Deliberate Unsafe Driving Act, Police Pursuit, Alcohol/Drugs, Ill/Blackout, Sleepy/Drowsy, Other Driver Physical Impairments, Vehicle Defects, Emotion, Inattention, Driver's Vision Obscured, Speeding, Erratic Action, Infrastructure Factor, Unfamiliarity [p. 78]
Source: PDF File Analysis of Fatal Crashes Due to Signal and Stop Sign Violations (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 9/1/2004)



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