The Houston Police recently reported a drastic increase in both traffic collisions and crashes at intersections where red-light safety cameras had been removed. The recent report adds to a long list of statistics indicating intersections become more hazardous when red-light safety cameras are taken away.
According to the Houston Police Department data, fatal traffic collisions increased 30 percent at 51 dangerous intersections where red-light safety cameras once stood, and total traffic crashes jumped 117 percent. The police data revealed:
- Total traffic collisions when red-light safety cameras were in use was 4,147 between 2006-2010
- Total traffic collisions more than doubled to 8,984 from 2010-2014 after cameras were removed
- Fatal traffic crashes increased from 10 to 13 in 2010 when the traffic cameras were eliminated
- Major crashes jumped nearly 85 percent from 1,391 to 2,568 during the same time period
But Houston is not the only city reporting more incidents once safety cameras were removed from dangerous intersections. According to the Texas Transportation Institute, total intersection crashes increased 64 percent in 2010 in Garland, Texas, and red-light running crashes were three times more frequent after red-light cameras were removed. In addition:
- Virginia Beach, Virginia, reported an 11.3 percent increase in red-light running events one month after red-light cameras were taken down
- Kansas City, Missouri, experienced a 33 percent jump in red-light running incidents between December 2012 to December 2013 with no cameras in operation
- Pima County, Arizona, reported a 1,000 percent increase in the number of drivers speeding more than 11mph over the posted speed limit when the safety camera program ended in 2013
Not only did the cameras encourage safer driving habits, but the Houston Police Department reported the technology generated an estimated $10 million annually in revenue.
Bringing Them Back
The Des Moines Police Department in Iowa is considering expanding its use of automated traffic enforcement cameras through a green light traffic camera initiative. The Des Moines Register reported the updated campaign calls for cameras to capture the images of drivers speeding through green lights and then issue tickets.
Currently, the Des Moines traffic enforcement cameras take pictures of drivers who are speeding or go through a red light, and generate millions of dollars for the city. By adjusting the cameras, the police department could further increase revenue streams by catching green light speeders in the act as well, the Des Moines Register reported.
If the Des Moines Police Department decides to expand the traffic enforcement camera program, it expects to bring in about $2.9 million in 2015 from citations. While $1.2 million of that total will be paid to the private vendor in charge of maintaining the cameras, Des Moines will have access to the remaining funds which will go toward public safety program such as:
- School resource officers
- COPS program
- Special burglary details
In Iowa, the state Department of Transportation has implemented rules limiting the use of traffic enforcement cameras on state-controlled highways and interstates. The department would prefer local police use the cameras as a last result after more efficient road designs and safety initiatives have been exhausted.