By on April 11, 2009

A review of preliminary collision data supplied by the city of Corpus Christi, Texas shows that the installation of red light cameras has done nothing to improve safety. Overall, the accident situation worsened at photo-enforced intersections at a time when decreased traffic levels have brought accident rates nationwide to an all-time low. The total number of accidents in Corpus Christi increased 14 percent, from 310 incidents to 353, at nine locations where automated ticketing machines were stationed. Contrary to the claim that red light cameras reduce the severity of collisions, the number of accidents involving injuries increased 28 percent from 140 to 179. Rear end collisions also increased by nearly a third from 160 to 208.

The city’s data compared about nineteen months of accident history at nine intersections before cameras were installed compared with a roughly equal period during which the devices were actively issuing citations. Although the cameras are often sold as devices that “save lives,” there were no fatal accidents recorded at any of the nine intersections during the three-year study period, with or without the cameras.

Upset by the dismal results, state Representative Solomon Ortiz, Jr. (D-Corpus Christi) introduced House Bill 3275, a measure that requires that the Texas Department of Transportation conduct public hearings before any camera can be installed on any state road.

“The data’s starting to come back, and some studies suggest that red light cameras have actually increased rear end collisions,” Ortiz said in a video message to constituents. “Many cities are now abandoning their red light camera programs. A red light camera program shouldn’t just be a cash cow for cities, and I think that you deserve to have input on these controversial cameras.”

View the draft accident data compiled by the city of Corpus Christi in a 200k PDF file at the source link below.

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12 Comments on “Corpus Christi, Texas Red Light Cameras Increase Accidents...”

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    Like so many other realities this will take a long time, maybe forever, to become understood everywhere. NY is just getting started installing these everywhere, for the specific purpose of raising revenue.

    So NY is in the position of putting in place devices that are known to be against public health and well being, that will cause accidents, but will generate revenue for the agency that oversees the devices, and NY finds that to be a desirable avenue.

    I would like to see a study of overall economic costs and benefits- the costs of increased accidents with machinery damage and personal injuries, against the benefit which is increased revenues from fines.

  • avatar

    johnny ro :

    …NY is in the position of putting in place devices that are known to be against public health and well being, that will cause accidents, but will generate revenue for the agency that oversees the devices, and NY finds that to be a desirable avenue.

    I’m quite angry here.

    This is why I now wish I had gone to law school. A good lawyer with a good case can drain the state’s coffers really fast. And the whole damned state deserves it because…

    …they voted for these politicians, and directly or indirectly, they voted for the judges that won’t find red light scameras unconstitutional!

    I say good riddance and goodbye. Bankrupt the whole damned state with a few dozen high-dollar rear-end collision/neck injury cases. Close the public schools and the libraries, and let people put out their own damned fires and defend themselves on the streets.

    This may be the only way to make people more careful about their voting choices. Bad choices should carry painful consequences.

    Okay, rant over.

  • avatar

    A Nation of Sheep

  • avatar

    Who cares ? Cameras are all about money. In places the scamera does not make money, it gets taken down. Violation rates are irrelevant.

  • avatar

    Someone in NY should forward the article and pdf to whomever is against the red light cameras there.
    Me…I live in Illinois, have our own problems right now with parking meters going from 25 cents to $2.00 because now a private company took over the meters and can charge whatever, but i digress. There are a few red light cameras in the city of Chicago, in residential slower speed zones. I haven’t heard of any accidents, though with higher speed areas I can imagine a problem. Someone slamming on the brakes at 45mph comes to mind.

  • avatar

    With or without the cameras, why are there 300+ accidents per year at just nine intersections? Does the typical busy intersection witness a couple of reported accidents per month?

  • avatar

    I say we can take a lesson from the Chinese here.

    Government officials in China are made to take classes on avoiding corrupt influence. Those that are caught taking part in criminal or corrupt activities while in office are put to death, or imprisoned for their entire lives.

    I say it’s time to start making officials responsible for their decisions. I propose that if you are a public official and you put public safety at risk for financial gain, you deserve either life in prison or the death penalty.

    That would make our government officials think twice about public safety VS revenues.


  • avatar

    So, there just might be some truth to the phrase “Wisdom of Solomon.”

  • avatar

    “Me…I live in Illinois, have our own problems right now with parking meters going from 25 cents to $2.00 because now a private company took over the meters and can charge whatever”

    I’ll bet an hour became 55 minutes at about the same time as well… :-(

  • avatar

    Floor it…..

    I am an activist with the National Motorists Association, and yes, we do fight red lights.

    I was interviewed by the NY Times yesterday, as the red light scameras are coming to NYC. There will be 50 more in NYC (up to 150), Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers and New Rochelle (?) are getting a few.

    This is actually a compromise. Mayor Congestion Pricing and Tax us to Death Bloomberg (I’m already rich so I don’t care) wanted unlimited scameras in NYC, and the Governor (half term Patterson) wanted speed cams in work zones. All in all, the increase was a compromise.

    The way NY State works, we have little to no say during budget time…..but that’s for another website. is a good first stop for scamera issues.

  • avatar

    Personally I think red light cameras are good.

    I’d want to see more data on the accidents and if it changes over time. It’s likely drivers in the area will go through a learning curve and realize that yellow means stop, not floor it and that the driver in front of you will likely stop, so you better as well.

    In many intersections the only way to turn left is to wait until the light turns. Having people coming the other way blast through and risk other people’s lives so they can save two minutes is something that should be stopped.

    If it ultimately makes intersections safer then it’s good policy, not evil greedy politicians.

  • avatar

    ZoomZoom: the problem you’d have with that approach is that you’re unlikely to satisfactorily prove that the red light camera caused the crash.

    I think it is time that the purveyors of this technology admit that it has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with revenue generation. The intellectual dishonesty pisses me off more than the cameras themselves do.

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