12/9/2007Texas City Reports Increase in Accidents with Traffic Cameras
Red light cameras cause accidents to increase by one-third in Harlingen, Texas.
Harlingen, Texas experienced an increase in accidents at the intersections where red light cameras were installed. The city of 67,000 near the border with Mexico began ticketing in May. Since then, the total number of accidents at photo enforced locations jumped to 57 compared to 43 in the six months prior to installation -- a 33 percent increase.
Although six months is not a sufficient amount of time to develop an accurate picture of the safety effects of the program, the early figures are consistent with those of independent researchers. In July an exhaustive study by the Virginia Department of Transportation documented a 29 percent increase in accidents overall at camera intersections throughout the state. The Washington Post likewise concluded that six years of data showed an increase in accidents at ticketing locations in the nation's capital. (View the full reports)
Still, Harlingen city leaders scrambled to declare their program a success citing a 47 percent decrease in the number of violations and downplaying the significance of rear end collisions. Redflex, the Australian vendor in charge of the program, has the capability of adjusting camera settings to obtain any desired reduction in the number of citations.