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Effects of Red Light Cameras on Violations and Crashes: A Review of the International Literature

Effects of Red Light Cameras on Violations and Crashes: A Review of the International Literature

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Effects of Red Light Cameras on Violations and Crashes: A Review of the International Literature
Effects of Red Light Cameras on Violations and Crashes: A Review of the International Literature

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Published by: Ars Technica on Nov 15, 2013
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This article was downloaded by: []On: 12 November 2013, At: 16:05Publisher: Taylor & FrancisInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
Traffic Injury Prevention
Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/gcpi20
Effects of Red Light Cameras on Violations and Crashes:A Review of the International Literature
Richard A. Retting
 , Susan A. Ferguson
 & A. Shalom Hakkert
 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety , Arlington, Virginia, USA
 Transportation Research Institute , Technion City, Haifa, IsraelPublished online: 15 Sep 2010.
To cite this article:
 Richard A. Retting , Susan A. Ferguson & A. Shalom Hakkert (2003) Effects of Red Light Camerason Violations and Crashes: A Review of the International Literature, Traffic Injury Prevention, 4:1, 17-23, DOI:10.1080/15389580309858
To link to this article:
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLETaylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the “Content”) containedin the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of theContent. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, andare not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content should not be relied upon andshould be independently verified with primary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable forany losses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoeveror howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use of the Content.This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematicreproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in anyform to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions
Traffic Injury Prevention, 4:17–23, 2003Copyright
2003 Taylor & Francis1538-9588/03 $12.00 + .00DOI: 10.1080/15389580390120862
Effects of Red Light Cameras on Violations and Crashes: A Reviewof the International Literature
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Arlington, Virginia, USA
Transportation Research Institute, Technion City, Haifa, Israel
 Red light running is a frequent cause of motor vehicle crashes and injuries. A primary countermeasure for red light runningcrashes is police traffic enforcement. In recent years, many police agencies have begun using automated red light camerasas a supplement to conventional enforcement methods. The present study reviewed and evaluated available evidence inthe international literature regarding the effectiveness of cameras to reduce both red light violations and crashes. Cameraenforcement generally reduces violations by an estimated 40–50%. In terms of crash effects, most studies contain method-ological flaws that, to varying degrees, either overestimate (failure to adjust for regression to the mean) or underestimate(comparisonwithnearbysignalizedintersectionsaffectedbycameras)crasheffects.Mindfuloftheselimitations,theresearchgenerally indicates that camera enforcement can significantly reduce injury crashes at signalized intersections, in particular right-angleinjurycrashes.Moststudiesreportedincreasesinrear-endcrashesfollowingcamerainstallation.Takentogether thestudiesindicatethat,overall,injurycrashes,includingrear-endcollisions,werereducedby25–30%asaresultofcameraenforcement.
 Automated Enforcement; Red Light Cameras; Red Light Running Crashes; Right-Angle Crashes; SignalizedIntersections
Red light running is a frequent cause of crashes at signal-ized intersections. During 1992–98, almost 6,000 people (about850 each year) died in red light running crashes in the UnitedStates, and another 1.4 million were injured in crashes that in-volvedredlightrunning(InsuranceInstituteforHighwaySafety,2000). Red light running is also a problem in other countries.Greene (2000) studied crashes at signalized intersections in theAustralianstatesofVictoria,WesternAustralia,andQueenslandduring 1994–98, finding that 15% to 21% of the crashes wererelated to red light running.A primary countermeasure for red light running crashes ispolice traffic enforcement. In recent years, many U.S. policeagencies have begun using automated cameras as a supplementto conventional enforcement methods. Red light cameras arenot a new technology. They were used for traffic enforcementin Israel as early as 1969 (Levinson, 1989), in Europe in the
Received 28 August 2002; accepted 4 October 2002.AddresscorrespondencetoRichardA.Retting,InsuranceInstituteforHigh-way Safety, 1005 North Glebe Road, Arlington, Virginia 22201, USA. E-mail:research@iihs.org
early l970s, and in Australia on a wide scale in the 1980s. Inthe United States, about 70 communities have implemented redlight cameras (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 2002),beginning with New York City in the early 1990s. Red lightcamerasofferthepotentialfortrafficenforcement24hoursadayand produce a record of evidence that cannot easily be disputed.Most important is the deterrent effect of discouraging driversfrom breaking traffic laws in the first place.The basic technology behind red light cameras was devel-oped in the 1960s. The camera system monitors the status of thetrafficsignalbyanelectronicconnectiontothesignalcontroller,andmostsystemsdeterminevehiclepresenceusingelectromag-netic sensors buried in the pavement near the intersection entrypoint. Cameras record images of an offending vehicle and thesurrounding scene as well as the date and time of offense, ve-hicle speed, duration of the yellow signal, and how long afterthe red signal the vehicle began to enter the intersection. Typ-ically, a second photo is taken to verify that the vehicle pro-ceeded through the intersection on the red signal. Technical ad-vances in video processing and digital technology will allow theuse of video and digital cameras as alternatives to conventional17
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wet-film devices. Most red light camera systems are portableandcanbedeployedatnumerousintersectionsthatareequippedwith the necessary sensors and connections to the traffic signal.Camera housings can be placed at multiple intersections with-out cameras actually being installed. By placing such housingsat many different intersections, more areas per camera can becovered and driver deterrence potentially can be increased.Published evaluations of red light camera effectiveness aswell as numerous anecdotal reports generally indicate that cam-eras reduce both red light violations and associated crashes.However, the methods and results of these studies vary consid-erably,andtodatetherehasbeennoefforttosynthesizechangesin crash data resulting from these research efforts. To the extentthat camera enforcement reduces red light running, it wouldbe expected to reduce the frequency of right-angle crashes atsignalized intersections—the principal type of crash associatedwith red light running. Such enforcement also may result in in-creasesinrear-endcrashes.Ithasbeenknownforsometimethattraffic signals themselves increase rear-end crashes (Hakkert &Mahalel, 1978). Differences in driver speeds and stopping be-havior during the signal change can contribute to rear-endcrashes. For example, if drivers stop more often for red lights,drivers not intending to stop may strike them from behind. Redlightcameras,becausetheycanincreasestoppingbehavior,mayexacerbate this effect. Therefore, it is important to monitor theincidenceofrear-endcrashesaswellasright-anglecrashesaftercamera enforcement.The present study provides a critical review and synthesisof international research regarding the effectiveness of red lightcamera enforcement. The principal focus of this synthesis is tobetter understand the effects of camera enforcement on crashes.However, before examining crashes it is important to better un-derstand the effect of camera enforcement on red light viola-tions across the community, as this can affect the interpretationof crash studies.
Although red light cameras have been in use for severaldecades, controlled evaluations of their effects on signal vio-lationsandassociatedcrashesarerelativelyfew.Areviewoftheinternational literature revealed seven studies (see Table I) thatincluded information on violation rates before and after initia-tionofcameraenforcement.Twoofthestudies(Oeietal.,1997;Thompson et al., 1989) monitored red light violations only atcamera sites. Reductions in violations of 22% to 56% were re-ported in these studies, although one author (Thompson et al.)failed to find a reduction at one of the two sites studied.These findings are supportive of camera enforcement, butthe absence of comparison observations at similar intersectionswithoutcameraenforcementmakesitdifficulttodeterminehowmuchofthereductionwascausedbythecamerasandhowmuchwasduetootherfactors.Forexample,if“problem”intersectionswere selected for camera enforcement, some reduction in vio-lations would be expected from the phenomenon of “regression
 Studies of effects of red light cameras on violationsPercentStudy Country Study sites changeChin (1989) Singapore 23 Camera sites
4220 Noncamera sites
2714 Control sites
17Thompson et al. (1989) Great Britain Camera site 1
22Camera site 2
13Arup (1992) Australia 3 Camera sites
783 Noncamera sites
67Oei et al. (1997) The Netherlands 4 Camera sites
56Retting et al. (1999a) United States 5 Camera sites
442 Noncamera sites
342 Control sites
5Retting et al. (1999b) United States 9 Camera sites
403 Noncamera sites
502 Control sites
4Chen et al. (2001) Canada 4 Noncamera sites
69after 1 mo4 Noncamera sites
38after 6 mo
Control sites in this study were located in the same community as the treat-ment sites; however, signs indicating the presence of cameras were installed atcamera sites as well as noncamera sites, but not at control sites.
to the mean.” (This statistical issue is discussed in greater detailin the following review of camera enforcement and crashes, butit is also relevant for violations.) In addition, these studies donot address the issue of general deterrence; that is, whether redlight cameras at a few intersections can generate a “halo” effectof community-wide reductions in signal violations. General de-terrence is a goal, and many communities post warning signsabout camera enforcement in areas without cameras to enhancethis effect.To address these issues, four studies in Table I comparedchanges in red light violations at signalized intersections withand without camera enforcement (Arup, 1992; Chin, 1989;Retting et al., 1999a,b). All four studies included comparisonsbetweenintersectionswithandwithoutcameraswithinthesamecommunity, which provides a measure of the general deterrenceeffect. In addition, three of the studies included comparisonswith “control” intersections either in other communities with-out camera enforcement (Retting et al., 1999a,b) or in the samecommunity at locations where motorists knew camera enforce-ment was not deployed (Chin, 1989). The control sites werechosen to be similar to the camera sites, and these comparisonswere included to assess whether changes observed in red lightviolationsinthecameraenforcementcommunitieswere,infact,due to the cameras.All four of these studies reported a large halo effect. Arup(1992)andRettingetal.(1999a)reportedreductionsinredlightviolations at noncamera sites in the same community that werenearlyaslargeasthereductionsatthecamerasites;Rettingetal.(1999b) reported reductions at noncamera sites that were largerthan at camera sites. At the same time, comparison with similarsites for which no camera enforcement was expected indicatedthat these reductions were not likely to have been caused byregression to the mean or other statistical artifacts; violation
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