GHSA Touts Study Showing Speed Cameras Reduce Accidents

New research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that speed cameras reduce highway speeds, the Governors Highway Safety Association said Jan. 31. IIHS studied Scottsdale, Ariz., and the Washington, D.C. suburb of Montgomery County, Md., which both have implemented cameras.

About 13,000 U.S. deaths per year result from speeding-related accidents, a total that represents about one-third of all traffic fatalities. "Despite progress in so many other areas of highway safety, as a nation, little success has been shown at addressing the speeding challenge. There is little public recognition of the problem," GHSA said, "and . . . law enforcement faces numerous obstacles enforcing speed limit laws." GHSA said its survey found that jurisdictions believe increased enforcement of speeding-related laws has become very difficult because of uncertainty in highway safety funding and a smaller number of officers because of  retirements, as well as an increased emphasis on homeland security issues.

>In 2006, Scottsdale became the first U.S. city to demonstrate the effectiveness of fixed speed cameras on a major highway. Before the cameras were installed, 15 percent of drivers were driving faster than 75 mph (the posted speed limit it is 65 mph). The new IIHS study showed that, with the cameras in place, the number of violators plunged to 1 to 2 percent. The Scottsdale 101 Program Evaluation estimated the total number of target crashes in non-peak periods was reduced by about 54 percent.

Montgomery County is using its cameras to enforce limits of 35 mph or less in residential areas and school zones. Since the installation of the cameras, the percentage of vehicles going more than 10 mph faster than the posted limits fell by 70 percent. Only about 35 jurisdictions in the country use speed cameras in their enforcement efforts, said GHSA, which said that the number "must be greatly increased if we are to make any progress at reducing speed-related fatalities. GHSA looks forward to more jurisdictions implementing speed camera programs and hopes to draw further attention to the speeding issue when we hold our 2008 Annual Meeting in Scottsdale this fall."

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