Studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) show red light cameras reduce traffic violations and reduce accidents caused by drivers running red lights. Major cities that use red light cameras report a reduction of fatal collisions by 24%. Non-fatal collisions were reduced by about 29%.
Red light cameras may reduce T-bone style collisions in intersections, but the camera use may also increase rear-end collisions at the traffic light. According to the Federal Highway Administration study, red light cameras can increase the number of rear-end collisions at traffic lights. This occurs because more people are stopping quickly at red lights to avoid ticketing. Rear-end collisions at some intersections with red light cameras rose by 15%.
Proponents of these cameras point out that rear-end collisions often result in less severe accidents than accidents which occur mid-intersection, this is because people are braking rather than accelerating.
The use of red light cameras is not without controversy. Currently, there are 523 major cities that are using the technology such as New York City, Atlanta, and Philadelphia. Pittsburgh could be the next city to be added to this list if the legislation is passed.
Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “Red Light Running Q and A;” http://www.iihs.org/research/qanda/rlr.aspx