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Red Light Cameras

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Red Light Cameras should be removed from operation since they are not doing what they were originally meant to do. Red light cameras are a type of traffic enforcement that captures an image of a vehicle, which has entered an intersection in spite of the traffic signal indicating red. Located on the side or the corner of the intersection, Red Light Cameras are often mistaken for traffic cameras. Red Light Cameras are surrounded by controversy; do they do what they were intended for, do they cause more accidents, are they ticketing people that should not be ticketed?

Red light camera usage is widespread in a number of countries worldwide. In 1965, Netherlands-based Gatso presented red light cameras to the market; they were used for traffic enforcement in Israel starting around 1969. The use of red light cameras started in the United States during the early 1990s with 26 states and the District of Columbia.

Most of the states using them do have laws in place when it comes to the use of red light cameras. For example, in New York State, the Vehicle and Traffic Law permits red light cameras only within cities with a population above 1 million New York City, Rochester, Buffalo, Yonkers, and Nassau and Suffolk Counties. On July 1st, 2010 Florida had a state law go into effect, which allows all municipalities in the state to use red light cameras on all state-owned right-of-ways, and fine drivers who run red lights, with the aim of enforcing safe driving. The name given to the state law is the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act, named for a man who was killed in 2003 by a motorist who ran a red light.

Starting around 2011 some of the states that use red light cameras started to prohibit the use of red light cameras. This can raise the question if red light camera are doing their job why would states prohibit the use of them instead of add them? A number of studies have examined whether red light cameras are beneficial. A 2005 study by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) suggests red light cameras reduce dangerous right-angle crashes. The study also found there can be an increase in the number of rear-end collisions, leading to the total number of collisions remaining unchanged. This FHWA study has been criticized for containing critical methodological and analytical flaws and failing to explain an increase in fatalities associated with red light camera use. (Bowman, J)The City of Aurora, Colorado experienced mixed results with red light cameras; after starting camera enforcement at 4 intersections, crashes decreased by 60% at one, increased 100% at two, and increased 175% at the fourth.

In 1965 the first red light camera system was introduced, using tubes stretched across the road to detect the violation and subsequently trigger the camera. These cameras used film, which was delivered to local law enforcement departments for review and approval for ticketing. The cameras recorded: the date and time, the location, and the amount of time elapsed since the light turned red and the vehicle passed into the intersection. These events are captured as a series of photographs.

It wasn’t until 1997 when the first digital camera system was introduced and since digital cameras have increasingly replaced the older film cameras. With cameras being digital the cameras not record more details on the event including: the date and time, the location, the vehicle speed, and the amount of time elapsed since the light turned red and the vehicle passed into the intersection. Not only do they have added details but the event is now captured as a series of photographs or a video clip, or both, depending on the technology used, which shows the vehicle before it enters the intersection on a red light signal and its progress through the intersection. Even with the advancement of the technology, the data and images are still being sent to the relevant law enforcement agency.

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