Red light cameras were introduced to the American public as a mechanism to reduce the number of major car wrecks and deahts on our busy roads. But despite the noble intent, numerous states have banned the use of red light cameras. The rate in which cameras are being installed has dipped dramatically. In 2008, the pace of communities installing red light cameras was 56 percent. In 2009, it was 16 percent, according to USA Today.
Why is there such controversy surrounding the use of these red light cameras? The argument made by opponents is that these cameras force people to prove their innocence when they receive a ticket via the mail rather than the government try and prove their guilt.
This argument is rather weak. If you get pulled over by a police officer for running a red light, you don’t get a trial by jury at that exact moment on the road. You are issued a ticket and can fight the ticket in court at a later date. The same principle is in place with a ticket issued via mail from a red light camera. If you truly believe you did not violate the law, you can appear in court to appeal the fine.
Opponents of red light cameras also fail to mention the study conducted in Fairfax, Virginia (VA) by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) which revealed a 40 percent reduction in red light runners after the cameras were installed. This is extremely important considering 137,000 people were injured in car crashes and 762 people were killed in red-light running car wrecks, according to the IIHS.
There are currently red light cameras in Virginia Beach, VA but there have been plenty of objections to their use. In fact, when the first eight cameras were installed in 2004 and 2005, they were eventually taken offline due to “privacy concerns.” The red light cameras eventually returned in 2009 to the city (largely because of the studies showing that they were effective) at high-traffic intersections such as Virginia Beach Boulevard and Independence Boulevard and at the intersection of Indian River Road and Kempsville Road, according to The Virginian-Pilot.
There will probably continue to be controversy surrounding the use of these cameras, but that controversy usually stems from people who have been caught running a red light. The safety statistics point to the fact that these cameras are a good tool in reducing the number of red light running car crashes and deaths.
As Va. Beach Police Officer Brian Walters told The Pilot, "It’s not so much about catching people running red lights. It’s to prevent them from doing it."
About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers.