Do Red Light Cameras Cause More Accidents?

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Do Red Light Cameras Cause More Accidents?

Over the past decade, over 438 U.S. municipalities, including D.C., have used electronic monitoring programs to reduce the number of car accidents. D.C. red light cameras are a part of an automated photo enforcement program that works by automatically taking a picture of any license plates of vehicles whose drivers violate traffic regulations.

Red light camera photographs can only capture the rear of the vehicle and the license plate and cannot capture the person who is driving at the time of the violation.

There is a lot of debate surrounding the use of red light cameras. Some people believe that red light cameras effectively reduce accidents, while others think that they actually cause more accidents.

What is a Red Light Camera Program?

Red light cameras are installed at intersections and connected to traffic signals. When the light turns red, the camera is activated and takes a picture of any vehicles entering the intersection’s license plate. The vehicle’s registered owner will receive a red light ticket in the mail after examining the license plate photograph.

The goal of these programs is to reduce car accidents. If drivers fear they’ll face a fine, they will be more likely to stop. This can lower the number of car accidents (specifically, right-angle, also known as T-bone, crashes.

Red Light Programs in Washington, D.C.

Established more than twenty years ago, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department developed the automated photo enforcement program that gives you a red light citation. A police officer from the District may also pull you over and issue an infraction.

Since 2020, the District has experienced a rise in severe traffic crashes resulting in deaths and injuries, leading to a proposal to expand D.C.’s automated enforcement program. In 2021, forty people were killed in traffic collisions, the most since 2007.

According to a Washington Post analysis from early 2022, it was found that 2020 and 2021 saw the lowest number of reported crashes but the highest rate of fatalities in D.C.. Approximately ten people were killed for every 5,000 crashes, double the rate of 2019 even though driving rates were reduced during the pandemic.

In response to this increase in accidents, the District Department of Transportation said it is procuring equipment to replace most of the red light cameras that exist in D.C.

white van speeding through intersection

Do Red Light Camera Programs Work?

Evidence shows that camera programs effectively decrease the number of people running red lights. In one study in Virginia, red light cameras reduced the number of total drivers running red lights by 67 percent.

However, while red light programs encourage drivers who would speed through a yellow or red light to stop, their attempt to stop may actually cause an increase in rear-end accidents. When a driver slams on their brakes to avoid running a red light, the car behind them may not have enough time to stop, and may crash into the back of their car.

Rear-end collisions are usually less severe than T-bone collisions, but they are still dangerous and can cause injuries. So while red light cameras may effectively reduce T-bone accidents, they may cause an increase in rear-end accidents.

If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation and are involved in a car accident, contact Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C.

What Are the Penalties for Running a Red Light in D.C.?

The District of Columbia Municipal Regulations state that a vehicle coming to a red light must stop before entering the intersection and must remain stopped until a green light, or flashing yellow light is shown.

Vehicles may also turn right on red after stopping, once it is safe to do so. If these rules are violated, and a red light camera catches the driver, it is considered a traffic infraction, and the driver will have to pay a $150 fine. If an infraction is issued, they will also receive two points on their driver’s record.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Washington, D.C.

red light camera citation

If you are looking for the highest level of representation available for your personal injury case, turn to Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. Our firm has helped clients recover more than $500 million in compensation, and we have more than 100 years of combined experience. All of our partners are recognized by Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers®, and our firm includes three past presidents of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C.

We work to help our clients obtain fair settlement offers to compensate them for the injuries they’ve suffered, but our car accident attorneys are extremely well-equipped to go to trial if needed. Call (202) 659-8600  or contact us online to get the proven legal representation you deserve.

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