Phoenix looks to install additional red-light cameras to reduce accidents at problem intersections

In in an effort to reduce Arizona car crashes, Phoenix is contemplating installing more red-light cameras at intersections where car accidents have been a problem after a task force studying traffic in the city made the recommendation. According to the Arizona Republic, of the 12 intersections that have the cameras, only the one at 15th and Missouri avenues is ranked in the top five for car accidents.

The photo-enforcement manager for the Phoenix Police Department attributes this to the cameras, which he says saves lives by changing motorists’ driving behavior. Drivers are more hesitant to run red-lights, reducing the potential for accidents.

“In a perfect world, all the intersections would be monitored,” he said. “We’re currently evaluating more sites.”

He says the city looks at speed, the number and seriousness of accidents, and fatalities in determining where to place the cameras. The installations would come at no cost to the city as the company that provides the cameras is paid based on the citations issued.

A recent study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety claims that red-light cameras in 14 large cities reduced the rate of red-light running accidents resulting in death by 24%, saving 159 lives in 2004-2008. In 2009, red-light running killed approximately 676 people, the majority of whom were not the drivers of the vehicle running the red-light.

The study claims that the cameras deter would-be violators from running through the intersections, and the effect can spill over to intersections where there are no cameras. It also allows police officers to use their time more efficiently, as patrolling intersection for red-light runners can be difficult and even dangerous.

While the study states that there is there is widespread report for the cameras, there are a growing number of opponents to the scheme who claim that the cameras are an invasion of privacy, a threat to due process, and can actually increase accidents.

The ACLU have voiced their concern that the cameras run by private companies can be used to gather data unrelated to traffic violations and made available to non-law enforcement parties. The organization cited a situation where cameras installed on the Texas-Oklahoma border were used to capture the license plate numbers of law-abiding citizens crossing the border so officials could question them as to why they crossed.

The ACLU also contends that individuals’ due process rights are being diluted by the system. A person may not receive notice of their violation for weeks or months after the incident, making it difficult to defend against erroneous citations. Also, the fact that a citizen may be ticketed for someone else violating the law in their car is unfair, and the requirement that they prove they were not driving at the time goes against our country’s presumption of innocent until proven guilty.

A 2005 Washington Post study of red-light cameras in Washington D.C. revealed that accidents had actually gone up at those intersections. The analysis revealed that crashed more than doubled at the intersections and T-bone collisions, which are especially dangerous, increased by 30 percent. The study then cites numerous studies leading to conclusions on both sides of the argument.

Phoenix injury attorneys implore motorists to drive cautiously regardless of the presence of red-light cameras. Running a red-light can result in very serious injuries to yourself and others, as well as subject you to civil liability.

If you have been injured in an accident by a motorist who failed to follow the rules of the road, contact an injury lawyer at Abels & Annes for a free consultation. Call 866-99-ABELS to speak to a lawyer now.

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