9/1/2015Insurance Industry Study Claims Speed Camera Benefit
IIHS report data show no difference in safety between control group without speed cameras and sites with speed cameras.
The insurance industry has a lot to gain from the proliferation of speed cameras. In states such as Arizona and California, photo tickets carry license points that increase insurance premiums. That is good news for the companies that fund the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which today released a report claiming significant safety benefits from the use of photo radar.
"We hope this research will help energize the discussion around speed," IIHS President Adrian Lund said in a press release.
The study focused on Montgomery County, Maryland which now has 92 fixed and mobile speed camera units that helped generate $157,592,254 in revenue since 2007. While the financial results are clear, the safety impact is less so. The IIHS couched its benefit claims with several unusual qualifiers. The locations referred to in the study are not roads that used speed cameras, but "camera-eligible roads." That is, the study results considered every residential road in the county with a speed limit between 25 and 35 MPH, not just the ones with cameras. In Fairfax County, Virginia, where speed cameras are illegal, the roads fared just as well in terms of accident numbers as the "camera eligible" roads in Montgomery County.
"On both the camera-eligible roads in Montgomery County and the corresponding control roads in Fairfax County, the counts decreased by 33 percent from 2004 to 2013," the report noted.
The IIHS researchers decided to adjust the data to specifically exclude consideration of certain types of accidents, such as the rear end accidents that happen when a driver slams on the brakes to avoid a speed camera ticket. This is how IIHS achieved the highly limited result of a "19 percent reduction in the likelihood that a crash would involve a fatality or an incapacitating injury, as reported by a police officer on the scene."
To demonstrate widespread support for speed cameras, IIHS conducted a telephone push poll that found 62 percent of drivers surveyed indicated support for speed cameras. The IIHS results do not reflect public sentiment as measured at the ballot box. Speed cameras were put to a public vote in Sykesville, Maryland five years ago and 61 percent of residents voted to outlaw the use of automated ticketing machines. Nationwide, voters in more than thirty cities and counties have voted against red light cameras and speed cameras (view complete list).
A copy of the report is available in a 1mb PDF file at the source link below.