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Traffic cameras: effective or not?

The two traffic fatalities on two different weekends at the intersection of Meridian and Woodmen roads beg the question: Could traffic cameras have prevented these accidents? There are opposing ideas as to the effectiveness of the cameras.

“Based on information available to us, it does not appear traffic cameras would have influenced the outcomes of recent accidents at the intersection of Woodmen and Meridian roads,” wrote Deborah Contreras of the El Paso County Communications Department in an email.

“There are no definitive studies that we are aware of that show traffic cameras help prevent accidents,” Contreras added.

While it could be true that traffic cameras in those two specific accidents might not have helped, there is evidence that contradicts her latter statement.

The City of Colorado Springs has a different opinion about the effectiveness of traffic cameras.

“Through our initial review, the city believes that red light cameras seem to reduce overall crashes and the types of crashes, (T-Bone) that often result in injuries,” wrote Todd Frisbie, Colorado Springs traffic engineer, in an email to the NFH.

Frisbie also wrote,“While Traffic Engineering still believes that red light cameras have reduced crashes, Traffic Engineering has not fully vetted the data to accurately understand the impacts red light cameras have on safety.”

“There has been a plethora of studies conducted in the U.S. and abroad that demonstrate the effectiveness of using cameras to reduce red light violations and crashes,” stated the report “Automated Enforcement in a New Era” published in December by the Governors Highway Safety Organization. The GHSO is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization representing state highway safety offices.

According to the report, a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety discovered that traffic cameras reduced the number of fatal crashes caused by drivers running red lights by 21% and reduced the rate of all types of accidents by 14%.

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