Researchers question efficacy of red-light cameras

03/14/08 Seán Kinane
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Hoping to cut down on red-light violations, Hillsborough County Commissioners voted last week to allow cameras to be installed at 10 dangerous intersections. But a study published a week ago by three professors in the University of South Florida’s College of Public Health questions whether this will work.

One of the authors is John Large, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management. He told WMNF that installing cameras is not necessarily effective at preventing people from running red lights.

Large and his colleagues reviewed many previous studies on the effectiveness of red-light cameras. They found two different types of study, which were supported by different groups and gave different results, Large said.

Even in studies sponsored by insurance interests, the results are questionable, according to Large.

But the independent studies, ones that don’t appear to be backed by outside interests, suggest that red-light cameras often do not improve public safety, Large said.

On Wednesday the Bradenton City Council approved placing cameras at red lights. The Florida legislature is also considering adding cameras to intersections on state roads. But Large said there are more effective ways to cut down on violations.

“… You have all red light at the intersection for one or two seconds before the green light comes on in the opposite direction.”

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