Report: Intersection Cameras Benefit Insurance Companies, Not Safety

Research by the University of South Florida College of Public Health published this month in the Florida Public Health Review says that not only do traffic intersection cameras not improve motorist safety but they actually increase crashes and are a ticket to higher auto insurance premiums.

"The rigorous studies clearly show red-light cameras don't work," said lead author Barbara Langland-Orban, professor and chair of health policy and management at the USF College of Public Health. "Instead, they increase crashes and injuries as drivers attempt to abruptly stop at camera intersections. If used in Florida, cameras could potentially create even worse outcomes due to the state's high percent of elderly who are more likely to be injured or killed when a crash occurs."

Red-light cameras photograph violators who are then sent tickets in the mail. Hillsborough County Commissioners unanimously agreed earlier this month to install the cameras at several major intersections in the county. The devices could be adopted by more cities and counties if Florida legislators pave the way by changing a state law this spring. The USF report highlights trends in red-light running in Florida, summarizes major studies, and analyzes the automobile insurance industry's financial interest in cameras. The report notes that some studies that have concluded cameras reduced crashes or injuries have contained major "research design flaws," such as incomplete data or inadequate analyses, and were conducted by researchers with links to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS, funded by automobile insurance companies, is the leading advocate for red-light cameras. Insurers can profit from red-light cameras, since their revenues will increase when higher premiums are charged due to the crash and citation increase, the researchers say.

The report recommends safer alternatives to intersection cameras, saying red-light running can be reduced by engineering improvements that address factors such as signal visibility and timings, wet roads and traffic flow. The researchers suggest local governments follow the state's lead in designing roads and improving intersections to accommodate elderly drivers, which would ultimately benefit all drivers. To view the report--"Red-Light Running Cameras: Would Crashes, Injuries and Automobile Insurance Rates Increase If They Are Used in Florida?"--visit http://hsc.usf.edu/publichealth/fphr/.

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