4/5/2013Rhode Island: Accidents Increase With Red Light Cameras
City data show accidents continue to rise at red light camera intersections in Providence, Rhode Island.
After a decade of toying with the use of red light cameras, Providence, Rhode Island has seen a continued spike in the number of accidents at photo enforced intersections. Between 2006 and 2012, the program generated $6,160,975 in revenue, but accidents have skyrocketed over the last three years.
According to the city's annual reports to the state, obtained by GoLocalProv, there were 28 property damage collisions and 10 injury collisions at red light camera intersections in 2010. In 2011, collisions jumped 189 percent to 81, though injury collisions dipped to 7. Last year property damage accidents increased another 15 percent to 96 while injury accidents grew to 12. Over three years, the number of collisions had grown 242 percent.
The city now has fifteen intersections monitored by cameras that are owned and operated by Xerox. A 2006 press release explained the goal of hiring a private, for-profit company to issue tickets was, "deterring people from causing accidents by running red lights." The city first began experimenting with photo ticketing in 2003, but a district court judge scolded the city for doing so without the authorization of state law. Providence lobbyists were instrumental in convincing the legislature to enact a statewide photo ticketing law in 2005.
From the beginning, the city has been chided for its failure to demonstrate a safety benefit to the camera operation. In 2008, the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island issued a report blasting Providence for using misleading statistics to justify continuance of the program in light of increasing accidents (view report).
"Anyone attempting to analyze the city's data in any meaningful way is left scratching his or her head," the report stated. "It quickly becomes apparent that the numbers given cannot be trusted because they simply don't add up, making it impossible to come to any scientifically significant -- or even correlational -- conclusions."
A copy of the accident data can be found in a 170k PDF file at the source link below. Note: the second page is incorrectly labeled as the 2009 annual report. It contains data from the 2011 report.