When it comes to reducing fatalities, a new study concludes, red-light cameras are getting the green light.
The study issued Tuesday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that fatal crashes declined 24 percent in 14 large U.S. cities where red-light cameras were installed between 1996 and 2004.
The Insurance Institute, a nonprofit funded by auto insurers, estimated that the cameras have saved 159 lives between 2004 and 2008 in 14 of the biggest U.S. cities. The study looked at 99 U.S. cities with populations over 200,000, and compared the rate of fatal crashes between two periods – 1992 to 1996 and 2004 to 2008.
Gary Biller, executive director of the National Motorists Association in Waunakee, Wis., which opposes red-light cameras on due-process grounds, was critical of the study’s methodology. A reduction in traffic fatalities during the periods studied “have been seen across the board,” and can’t be solely attributed to red-light cameras, Biller said.
“There were quite a lot of safety enhancements to motor vehicles” that should be given some credit, Biller said.
Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute, defended the study, saying it took into account falling crash fatality rates overall by looking at cities without red-light cameras.
“Crash rates fell in all cities we looked at,” Rader said. “But crash rates fell much faster in camera cities.”