You may have noticed driving along busy roads in Philadelphia, such as Route 1 (Roosevelt Boulevard), that many traffic lights are now equipped with red light cameras. Within the city, there are 24 intersections with cameras. One of the arguments in favor of the use of red light cameras is to reduce the number of PA auto accidents, states Bucks County personal injury lawyer Michael L. Saile, Jr.
How This Technology Works
Sometimes you can see the camera (by way of a the blinking white light) on top of a pole that faces the red lights. If a car drives through a red light rather than stopping (as is the law) a photo of that vehicle’s license plate is taken by the camera sitting above the intersection.
The fine assessed to motorists caught on camera going through a red light is $100 in Pennsylvania. The ticket is automatically mailed to the registered owner of the car.
This approach, and the resulting fine, differs from actually being stopped by a police officer for running a red light. When stopped by a cop in Philadelphia for failing to stop at a red light, the resulting fine is generally $109.50, plus 3 points on your license.
History and Recent Developments
Red light cameras in Philadelphia made their debut in 2005. It was originally the only city in Pennsylvania permitted to use red light cameras. In June 2012, PA’s General Assembly passed a law allowing specific additional communities to apply to PennDOT through 2017 to install the traffic cameras.
Three of the towns the state has identified as eligible for red light cameras are in Bucks County:
Middletown Township, and
The intended purpose of these cameras is to discourage people from engaging in dangerous driving behaviors, such as running red lights, and thus decrease the number of accident injuries and fatalities along, accident-prone Philadelphia area roads. Certain reports do show that since the installation of red light cameras, the number of accidents in Philadelphia has decreased. However, detractors to the use of traffic cameras claim that the use of cameras does nothing to enhance safety, but rather works as a revenue booster for the city.
For and Against
According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, in 2010, 673 people were killed and an estimated 122,000 were injured in crashes that involved red light running. At the same time, different media reports have shown that rear-end collisions have increased at intersections with traffic cameras. Drivers are more likely to slam on their brakes when the traffic signal turns yellow at a camera-equipped intersection, leading to a higher number of rear-end crashes.
For just a glimpse at how strongly groups are divided on this issue, here are examples of a couple of findings:
- A 2011 Philadelphia Inquirer reports states that according to police data, the number of auto accidents has increased at many Philadelphia intersections since the installation red-light cameras. it further states that the total number of accidents was up 12 percent in intersections that have had cameras for at least a year. Police suggest that this increase in crashes may be due to drivers stopping abruptly to avoid running a red light and being struck from behind.
- A study performed for the Pennsylvania State Transportation Advisory Committee showed that red light cameras did reduce the amount of red-light running, which, in turn, reduced the number of serious Philadelphia car crashes. The group reported that accidents declined by 24 percent in 10 Philadelphia intersections where three years’ worth of data was analyzed.
Things to Consider
Motorists have paid $45.3 million in fines since 2005. For fiscal year 2010-11, the gross revenue for Philadelphia’s red-light tickets was $13 million. If the cameras do detract drivers from running red lights and the result is improved safety that’s great. But there is also a financial component to be considered: if fewer tickets are being issued, that eventually means less money is being collected – and the camera program is very expensive to operate and maintain. So, if the city reaches a point where it cannot pay for the system, the intended safety measure will not longer be able to remain in place.
Many of those not in favor of red light cameras insist that the way to achieve greater safety in these dangerous intersections is to increase the length of the yellow lights so that traffic has time to filter through, and/or to have lights remain red in all directions for a few seconds.
If you have been seriously injured in a PA auto accident due to the recklessness of a red-light-runner, do not delay in getting medical care. Then, contact a Philadelphia area car accident lawyer to discuss your case. You can reach an experienced injury lawyer at Cordisco & Saile LLC by calling 215-642-2335. For additional information on auto accidents, download or order our FREE guide, How to Maximize Your Pennsylvania Car Accident Case Before an Insurance Company Takes Advantage of You.