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Car accidents and the use of red light cameras here in New York; Study Says...

Whether red light cameras actually prevent accidents is a controversial subject in today’s news. According to a study by the Federal Highway Administration, red light cameras reduce right-angle collisions by 15 percent, but also increase rear-end collisions by 24 percent.

But according to the New York City Department of Transportation, “[r]ed light cameras greatly increase safety for everybody who uses the street. Intersections where cameras were installed saw a 56% decline in serious injuries, a 44% decrease in pedestrian injuries and a 16% decrease in all injuries.”

The federal study’s findings make it hard to justify cities using the cameras. Yet the New York City study’s findings make the cameras seem like no-brainers. So which is right? The city generates revenue from the tickets issued by red light cameras, so might that influence their studies?

Well San Diego abandoned its red light camera program in February because the city did not see any significant decrease in accidents. “San Diego's mayor also said the cameras bred disrespect for the law and distrust among people who thought they were only there to generate revenue for the city,” according to MSN Money. But the NYC Department of Transit argues revenue from the cameras decreases over time because they cameras deter violations. It claims that violations have dropped by 40 to 60% at locations where they were installed.

It’s difficult to tell at this point whether red light cameras are a benefit or burden for citizens. But if you are injured as a result of a rear-end collision at an intersection with a red light cameral, whether the camera contributed to the accident is a legitimate question.

There are many who believe that as you approach an intersection with a red light camera they must slam on their brakes in order to prevent getting a red light camera ticket. There are others who believe that it is safer to continue through the intersection and not risk getting hit in the rear from stopping short it just in order to prevent a ticket.

When an accident happens in a camera controlled intersection, we are able to determine, based upon the photos and video, the timing of the green, yellow and red lights. The computerized software is so sophisticated that it can show you within milliseconds where your car was positioned as you drove over the sensor.

Traffic control experts can determine what the standards are for traffic going through the intersection, the appropriate speeds as well as the length of time between the different colored lights.

There many anecdotal stories about people needing to slam on their brakes when approaching a camera controlled intersection causing an accident and being hit in the rear.

As always, should you have legal questions about your particular car accident that happened here in New York, you are encouraged to pick up the phone and call. We answer legal questions like yours every day and we welcome your call. You can reach us at 516-487-8207.


Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer