Just when motorists felt that red light cameras were a thing of the past, the state senate is considering a bill that would bring them back. A major complaint among motorists about red light cameras was that they unfairly penalized a driver who had entered the intersection on a yellow light but just before the light turned red, activating the camera, and resulting in a sizeable fine and points on the violator’s driving record. Traffic safety officials have pointed out that the cameras have caused motorists to suddenly slow down rather than risk a violation leading to numerous rear-end collisions. Various commentators have written that their implementation is just another example of overreaching government intrusion into the privacy of citizens.
Car Accident and Red-Light Cameras
Many states and cities have banned red light cameras citing actual increases in auto accidents at those intersections where advocates had hoped would become safer due to their presence. Opponents have also decried the cameras as designed to merely make money for cash strapped municipalities. They also point out that very often the seeming violation poses no danger to cross-traffic since there is a delay before the light for their direction of travel turns green.
However, there are provisions in the proposed new law that might placate skeptics. The cameras are designed to take photos of cars that enter the intersection only after the light has already turned red. If they enter at any point while the light is yellow, there is no violation and presumably no image will be taken. Cameras will also photograph any car that is traveling at least 5 miles per hour over the speed limit as it enters the intersection as well as of vehicles that turn right on a red light where it is prohibited to do so, or if it is blocking a bus or traffic in the intersection. Citations are issued to the registered owner of the vehicle who is responsible regardless of who was driving. The cameras would not take images of the car’s occupants or of the car’s contents. Signs at these intersections would alert motorists of the camera’s presence as they approach the intersection.
In addition, a violation is only $25, and it does not go on the owner’s driving record or result in increased insurance surcharges. Exceptions to being issued a violation are if the car has been reported as stolen, or the motorist had to get out of the way of a funeral procession or emergency vehicle. Any portion of the fine not used to pay for the camera’s installation and operation would go to the state’s Transportation Trust Fund.
The cameras are limited to one per every 2500 residents, meaning Boston would get around 280 cameras while most towns would see far less. City and town officials would decide which intersections need the cameras and only after a public hearing. All images taken must be deleted within 48-hours after the violation has been resolved. If an individual or attorney wishes to obtain a copy of the image, the request must be accompanied by a court order.
Hopefully, the cameras will reduce accidents at troubled intersections and make motorists more cautious when approaching an intersection. It remains to be seen if the incidence of rear-end accidents do not increase, though proponents of red light cameras point out that preventing T-bone accidents, which are much more severe and result in more injuries, is preferable over rear-enders that often produce no or minor injuries in most cases.
Will Cameras Aid Personal Injury Claims?
Liability for an accident at an intersection can be difficult to prove unless there are credible, unbiased witnesses who observed the incident. Images of cars that entered an intersection after the light had turned red or which turned right on a red light despite signs that prohibit it would certainly be credible evidence in assisting injured victims in collecting compensation for lost income, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.
Because images are deleted 48-hours after the car owner has settled the violation, an injured victim needs to act quickly. Retaining a Massachusetts car accident lawyer as soon as possible after an accident is instrumental in obtaining these images, which may be the only unbiased evidence of how the accident occurred.
Damages in Intersection Accidents
Damages in car accidents can include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Loss of earning capacity
- Diminished quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Anyone injured in a Massachusetts car accident is entitled to PIP benefits that can pay up to a limited amount for lost wages and medical expenses, regardless of fault. You can bring a claim for additional compensation against the at-fault motorist if your injuries are serious or your medical bills exceed $2000.
Retain a Car Accident Lawyer from Burns and Jain
If you were injured or a loved one sustained fatal injuries at an intersection, you will need the skills and knowledge of a veteran car accident lawyer from the law office of Burns and Jain. Call us at (617) 227-7423 to schedule a free consultation about your injury claim.