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Effects of red light camera enforcement on fatal crashes in large U.S. cities

Hu, Wen; McCartt, Anne T.; Teoh, Eric R.
Journal of Safety Research
August 2011

Objective: To estimate the effects of red light camera enforcement on per capita fatal crash rates at intersections with signal lights.
Methods: From the 99 large U.S. cities with more than 200,000 residents in 2008, 14 cities were identified with red light camera enforcement programs for all of 2004-2008 but not at any time during 1992-1996, and 48 cities were identified without camera programs during either period. Analyses compared the citywide per capita rate of fatal red light running crashes and the citywide per capita rate of all fatal crashes at signalized intersections during the two study periods, and rate changes then were compared for cities with and without cameras programs. Poisson regression was used to model crash rates as a function of red light camera enforcement, land area, and population density.
Results: The average annual rate of fatal red light running crashes declined for both study groups, but the decline was larger for cities with red light camera enforcement programs than for cities without camera programs (35% vs. 14%). The average annual rate of all fatal crashes at signalized intersections decreased by 14% for cities with camera programs and increased slightly (2%) for cities without cameras. After controlling for population density and land area, the rate of fatal red light running crashes during 2004-2008 for cities with camera programs was an estimated 24% lower than what would have been expected without cameras. The rate of all fatal crashes at signalized intersections during 2004-2008 for cities with camera programs was an estimated 17% lower than what would have been expected without cameras.
Conclusions: Red light camera enforcement programs were associated with a statistically significant reduction in the citywide rate of fatal red light running crashes and a smaller but still significant reduction in the rate of all fatal crashes at signalized intersections.
Impact on industry: The study adds to the large body of evidence that red light camera enforcement can prevent the most serious crashes. Communities seeking to reduce crashes at intersections should consider this evidence.