By on June 6, 2009

Supporters of the use of photo enforcement around the country insist red light cameras and speed cameras are primarily designed to “save lives.” When faced with independent studies showing the overall number of accidents can actually increase where intersection cameras are installed (view studies), supporters like Illinois state Senator John J. Millner (R-St. Charles) counter that the type of accidents caused by red light cameras is not worth worrying about. “This does save lives,” Millner said during a 2006 debate on expanding the use of red light cameras. “Will there be more rear-end accidents? Perhaps there may, but those typically aren’t life threatening. The T-bone accidents are. This saves lives.”

On Wednesday, a woman locked in the back of an Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) police car burned to death as a result of a rear end collision on Interstate 10 near Tucson. The Ford Crown Victoria models used by DPS are known to explode when struck from behind. Even though the cruiser was equipped with a special fire suppression system, it failed to prevent the fire. A similar sort of high-speed, rear end collision can happen on a freeway where speed cameras are used.

A preliminary examination of Scottsdale’s freeway camera program found a 54 percent increase in rear end collisions accompanied the 110,962 automated tickets issued in 2006. These accidents happened as motorists nearing the cameras panicked and braked suddenly to avoid receiving a citation. They were then struck from behind by motorists who failed to react in time to the unexpected maneuver.

A similar panic reaction caused a serious injury accident in Victorville, California, also on Wednesday. According to the Victorville Daily Press, a driver afraid of earning a $426 ticket slammed on the brakes during a yellow light at Bear Valley Road and Seventh Avenue. This driver stopped in time. The driver immediately behind also stopped in time after applying the brakes at full force. The third vehicle behind was driven by a woman who did not stop in time. Her minivan slammed the second vehicle into the first. The woman’s injuries were so serious that she had to be taken by helicopter to the Arrowhead Regional Medical Center.

In Singapore, The New Paper reports that a speed camera on Loyang Avenue near Pasir Ris Drive is causing accidents.

“When they realize the camera is there, they jam their brakes,” one resident explained to The New Paper.

That is precisely what caused a large truck carrying soil to lose control on May 2. The skidding vehicle slammed into the center divider and overturned. The driver was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

In the UK, a pair of sudden braking accidents caused by speed cameras were caught on a BBC news video (watch video on YouTube, accident at the 1:56 mark).

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17 Comments on “Traffic Cameras Cause Serious Accidents...”

  • avatar

    Traffic cameras, and most traffic enforcement overall, is meant to generate revenue for the local township. It is a hidden tax on motorists. Any blather about “safety” is just that – blather. If there were no profit involved with traffic enforcement, there would be far less traffic enforcement.

  • avatar

    We used to have mobile photo radar van units in Ontario. I still remember vividly how drivers would jam on their brakes upon seeing them (usually hidden behind hwy bridges).
    It was definitely dangerous..and very profitible for the provincial government.

  • avatar

    In Minnesota, state troopers will park near overpasses and in the center divides of the major highways. Not only does this cause the problems stated by Kurt B., it causes a temporary traffic jam that slows the entire commute.

    As soon as the traffic passes the trooper, the speeds increase to what they were before encountering the trooper. This happens on both sides of the highway.

  • avatar

    This is exactly why it pays to drift the car sideways through intersections rather than slamming on the breaks. Safer for all involved and the cameras can’t get a license picture on sideways vehicles. Win Win.


    (there might be some fecetious commentary there)

  • avatar

    What “saves lives” is proper yellow lights. Is a drunk driver that was otherwise going to T-bone you going to stop instead because of a red light camera? No. This is all a scam to collect. Shorten the yellows as much as possible, and nail everyone going through with a ticket. Big $$$. Horrible rear-end accidents are “acceptable casualties”.

  • avatar

    My town was facing a serious revenue short fall.
    They decreased the yellow light time.
    Problem solved.

  • avatar

    Did I miss something?

    It’s not like I like red light cameras… but the article doesn’t refute the claim that red light cameras reduce the number of serious accidents. It acknowledges that claim, and then it points to a couple of nasty anecdotes and talks about how it’s been proven that they result in an increase in total (ie non-serious) accidents.

    What was your point?

  • avatar

    I think grifonik might be on to something.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Politicians and civil servants lie. Who knew?

  • avatar

    The illinois politician who said that rear-ender’s are typically not serious should be forced to drive a scooter for a year in Chicago and see if he still feels the same.

  • avatar

    If it’s about safety and not about revenue collection, then the best thing to do is get unsafe drivers off the roads. Keep your safety-improving red light cameras, but eliminate the ticket. Instead, impound the car for a month, and suspend the driver’s license privileges. Sure, if the driver can’t get to work for a month, his or her income will fall, and a job might even be lost, but aren’t decreased tax revenues worth it for safety? You know, for the children?

  • avatar

    Show Me The MONEY. Pure and simple. And yes, if I’m near a “cash corner”, I’m jamming the brakes. Perhaps as more statistics appear to support the increase in accidents, there will be a greater backlash against them. Like a well placed bullet into the damn thing.

  • avatar

    “Cause” is too strong of a word for this situation. The only thing that causes a rear-end collision is the person following who wasn’t paying attention or was following too closely.

  • avatar

    If it is about safety than treat these as criminal offenses and dole out jail time for traffic offenders. That would slow people down. As it is its all about seperating drivers from their money.

  • avatar

    I’ve stated this before on TTAC:

    We need a Federal law that stipulates jail time for those that install traffic monitoring devices when faced with data showing those devices make the road less safe.

    I think politicians would think twice about risking lives for dollars if it meant they would spend some time in jail.

    To those that think this is too harsh – China executes government officials for stuff like this.


  • avatar

    Not really; China executes government officials when it’ll end a controversy and make the government look like it was on the right side.

    Where are the studies on fatalities at intersections with and without these cameras? We know minor accidents go up, but we’ve never offered an effective rebuttal to the assertion that red-light cameras reduce serious accidents. This thread isn’t one either.

  • avatar

    Good. That means North and Wells and North and Halsted in my hood will now be totally safe intersections since these cameras were installed last week.

    Now I can sleep soundly. Thank you Mayor Daley. I’m glad I’m safe from getting T Boned while I’m trying to avoid pothole after pothole in our shittyass roads. What do you even do with the $75 city sticker and outrageous parking tickets you rape your citizens with?

    Grrrr…..Great city. The politics ruin it.

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