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Attitudes toward red light camera enforcement in cities with camera programs

McCartt, Anne T.; Eichelberger, Angela
Traffic Injury Prevention
January 2012

Objective: To obtain information on attitudes and experiences related to red light camera enforcement in cities with camera programs and in Houston, Texas, where cameras were removed after voters rejected the program in November 2010.
Methods: Telephone surveys were conducted with 3111 drivers in 14 large cities (population greater than 200,000) with long-standing red light camera programs and 300 drivers in Houston, using random samples of landline and cell phone numbers in each city. For analyses combining responses from the 14 cities, cases were weighted to reflect each city's share of the total population for the 14 cities.
Results: Among drivers in the 14 cities with red light camera programs, two thirds favor the use of cameras for red light enforcement and 42 percent strongly favor it. The chief reasons for opposing cameras were the perceptions that cameras make mistakes and that the motivation for installing them is revenue, not safety. Forty-one percent of drivers favor using cameras to enforce right-turn-on-red violations. Nearly 9 in 10 drivers were aware of the camera enforcement programs in their cities, and 59 percent of these drivers believed that the cameras have made intersections safer. Almost half know someone who received a red light camera citation, and 17 percent had received at least one ticket themselves. When compared with drivers in the 14 cities with camera programs, the percentage of drivers in Houston who strongly favored enforcement was about the same (45%), but strong opposition was higher in Houston than in the other cities (28 versus 18%).
Conclusions: Most drivers in cities with long-standing red light camera programs support cameras and believe that the cameras have improved safety, but communities could do a better job of educating the public about the dangers of right-turn-on-red violations and the need for enforcement. Given that camera opponents frequently said cameras make mistakes, it appears that communities also could do a better job of explaining the safeguards that ensure that citations are issued only to drivers who clearly run red lights.