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Status Report, Vol. 36, No. 4 | April 28, 2001 Subscribe

Public favors cameras, but legal barriers impeded use

Oxnard residents favored red light camera enforcement even before it produced positive effects on crashes. Once the enforcement got under way at city intersections, support increased. Similar support prevails nationwide. Opinions about camera use are favorable in communities with and without enforcement programs, according to a recent Institute survey in 10 cities.

Despite this support, officials in many U.S. jurisdictions aren't able to implement camera programs. Only nine states and the District of Columbia have laws either granting the use of cameras statewide or allowing them in specific communities. Without explicit authorization, camera use may not be possible (see Status Report special issue: state traffic safety laws, Dec. 20, 2000).

"The effectiveness of cameras plus the clear public support for using them should persuade state lawmakers to remove the legal hurdles," says Institute president Brian O'Neill.

Percent of drivers who favor cameras

Cities with cameras:

Fairfax, Virginia 84%
Charlotte, North Carolina 82%
Oxnard, California 79%
Mesa, Arizona 78%
San Francisco, California 77%

Cities without cameras:

Fort Lauderdale, Florida 82%
Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina 76%
Arlington, Texas 74%
Charlottesville, Virginia 74%
Fresno, California 72%
Red light cameras slash injury crashes

In the first U.S. study of how red light cameras affect crashes, Institute researchers found large reductions following the introduction of cameras in one California community.

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