Red-light-running fatalities

August 7, 2018

By Eugene Herbert


Red-light-running fatalities increase 17% in four years

One gets certain clarity with regard to trends in respect of road safety challenges by following international statistics, and then extrapolating those into a “probable” local situation.

Most are aware that if one is being watched, then the likelihood of compliance with one or other law/ requirement is probably increased – quite substantially. With that in mind, the principle of being ‘watched’ is shown to be true when examining fatalities in the USA.

Red light camera programs in communities across the US are declining. There is also a corresponding increase in deaths in red-light-running crashes from 696 in 2012 to 811 in 2016. This represent a 17% increase according to an Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) analysis.

As of July 2018, only 421 communities had red light camera programs — worse still, that number is down from 533 that had a program at any time during 2012.

To combat the growing problem of lost lives due to red-light-running, four national safety organisations in the US  are developing a red light camera checklist. This is for local policymakers, law enforcement agencies and transportation officials.

The checklist — created by AAA, IIHS, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and the National Safety Council — provides practical instructions for planning, implementing and evaluating red light camera programs. It includes steps to help communities build and maintain public support.

These guidelines are developed to help communities avoid the problems that have undermined programs in the past. It’s known that turning off cameras results in more crashes, injuries and deaths – it’s important that camera programs succeed.

Red light running is one of the most common factors in urban crashes. In addition, data indicates that intersections are among the most dangerous places on our roadways.

As for fatalities, more than half the people killed in red-light-running crashes are pedestrians, bicyclists and people in other vehicles hit by the red light runners.

Although new camera programs continue to be added in select communities, the total number of camera programs is declining because more programs were discontinued than were initiated. Commonly cited reasons for turning off cameras include a reduction in camera citations. Another is difficulty sustaining the financial viability of the program and community opposition.

With information like that fresh in mind, we can only speculate how successful the program is in South Africa. Here, we can readily observe painted out cameras and others that have been vandalised.

Admittedly we have other challenges. Yet, it is worth remembering that if used successfully it is one area in which – if deployed correctly – we can save lives


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