Red Light Cameras: Are They Effective? - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

Red Light Cameras: Are They Effective?


Plans to double the number of Toronto intersections where red-light cameras are in operation from the current 77 locations were announced by city officials as part efforts to improve road safety. The cameras resulted in more than 36,000 motorists being charged last year with violations. A question that always arises when red-light cameras are mentioned is the effect they actually have on road safety and accident prevention.

How red-light cameras work

According to Transport Canada, 40 percent of all fatalities at intersections are the result of drivers either failing to yield the right of way or disobeying traffic control devices. One method provincial governments, including Ontario, have settled on for enforcing traffic laws at intersections is the red-light camera.

The cameras are pole-mounted at intersections usually chosen for their high volume of traffic and accident history. As a traffic light turns red, sensors imbedded in the ground near the stop line detect if a vehicle disobeys the light and enters the intersection. The systems in operation in Ontario must comply with a law requiring them to include sensors to detect the speed of a vehicle as it approaches an intersection. If it detects a vehicle traveling at a predetermined speed, the red-light camera takes a picture before the intersection followed by one or more additional pictures in succession. At least one of the pictures will show the license plate of the vehicle.

Fines for violations are $325 and the violation notices are sent to the registered owner of the vehicle. Motorists concerned about the pictures and their right to privacy need not worry. The systems in use in communities throughout Ontario do not take pictures of the driver or other occupants of the vehicle. The photographs limit themselves to the rear of the vehicle to avoid capturing the occupants. If, however, a photograph includes a person in it, the picture sent to the vehicle’s owner is checked to ensure the person cannot be identified.

Effect of red-light cameras on traffic accidents

Complaints that cities and municipal governments use the systems to generate income might be true in some instances, but statistics support officials who point to red-light cameras as an effective method of reducing intersection accidents. One studylooked at 14 communities in which red-light cameras were abandoned and found that accidents caused by drivers disobeying a red light increased by 30 percent, and other types of accidents went up by 16 percent.

The overall conclusion of the study was that intersections with red-light cameras had a lower rate of accidents causing fatalities and injuries. Other studies agreed that the systems saved lives and prevented injuries, but they pointed out that crashes caused by motorists stopping abruptly when they realize there is a camera increased.

Data from Toronto showed a 4 percent increase in crashes in which only property damage occurred. Other Ontario communities experienced an increase of about 7 percent in property damage accidents. Government officials and road safety experts agree that the drop in catastrophic intersection accidents causing serious physical injuries and fatalities proves the value and effectiveness of red-light camera systems even in light of a slight increase in minor accidents in which no one is injured.

We can help if you were injured in an intersection accident

The personal injury lawyers at Diamond and Diamond have years of experience representing victims of intersection accidents who have been seriously injured and the families of those who have been killed. Don’t delay making your claim for compensation. Call our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now about your claim. Our consultations are free, and we have offices located throughout Ontario.

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