Red Light Cameras in Massachusetts to Aid in Safety

In 2009, 676 people in the United States were killed and 113,000 injured in collisions at red lights, according the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System. While the Massachusetts Legislature debates allowing our communities to decide whether to install cameras at traffic lights in order to catch and deter red light violators, numerous organizations have spoken out in favor of the idea. Foxboro Police Chief Ed O’Leary proposed the idea back in 2006 and was shut down in his community. Southern New England AAA spokesperson Mary Maguire said, “We feel that in urban locations where there are a substantial numbers of infractions, we see evidence that red light cameras can deter red light running.” New York, California, Florida and our neighbor, Rhode Island are among the 27 states that allow red light camera laws.

That is enough to get us thinking that this is an idea worth considering that our antidotal evidence from representing victims of car accidents and families where there has been a death from motor vehicle collisions shows that many injuries occur because someone was just trying to beat the light.
A 2011 Federal Highway Administration study found that red light cameras “reduced the fatal red light running crash rate by 24 percent and the rate of all types of fatal crashes at signalized intersections by 17 percent.” Of course there are constitutional issues. There are overreaching issues. There are police enforcement costs. But what about the deterrence effect of folks knowing, or thinking, that they will be cited by a camera and ticketed by a local police department if they violate the law by traveling in an intersection during a red light?