Seeing Red

By:  Mark Talbot, senior vice president and managing director, Parking and Safety Solutions, ACS, A Xerox Company

A news story out of New York recently caught my eye. A car ran a red light and crashed into a school bus, sending five people to the hospital. Fortunately, everybody is going to be all right. The scary part about all this is that reports show that red light running killed 676 people and injured an estimated 113,000 in 2009. If those numbers don’t convince you that this is a serious issue then take a look at this video that shows what happens when people run red lights.

That’s why the editorial board at Newsday in New York supports the use of photo enforcement to automatically ticket red light runners. In an editorial about the effectiveness of cameras in Suffolk, County, New York, titled More Traffic Camera for Safety, they write: “Red-light cameras are deterring light-jumping… what makes more sense is more cameras.” ACS is the vendor helping Suffolk County deter folks from running red lights.

While nobody likes getting a ticket, a survey by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows overwhelming support for red-light cameras. The survey showed that two-thirds of drivers in 14 big cities with longstanding red light camera programs support their use.

I am not surprised since most people are familiar with the research that says camera enforcement programs reduced fatal red light running crashes by 24% and saved 159 lives in 14 cities in the US from 2004-2008.

While red light cameras will never prevent everyone  from running a red light, they will hopefully make the vast majority of people think twice the next time they rush through the intersection trying to beat the yellow light.

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