What’s Trending: Red Light Cameras Save Children’s Lives

While not all intersection incidents are due to red-light-running, people run red lights for the same reason they perform other unsafe driving habits at intersections: distraction, inattention, speeding, and aggressive driving. In Nevada, as in other states, the main reason for unsafe driving at intersections is simple: people are in a hurry. Too often, the traffic signal’s yellow light has come to symbolize “hurry up” instead of “prepare to stop.” Nevada, a focus state for intersections, is working on strategies to reduce intersection crashes. One potential strategy is red light running cameras.

A new study presented during the 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics national conference found a correlation between traffic fatalities involving children in some states with those that have weak or limited red-light-camera enforcement laws in place. The study found that serious motor vehicle crashes increased substantially when the cameras were turned off. The study also found a link between the use of other safety measures, like seatbelts or car seats, and a reduction in child deaths from these crashes. Estimates say that the simple use of one of these to restrain a child by just 10% nationally can save as many as 1,500 lives over a period of five years.

“We are interested in helping states understand how their laws can prevent children from dying if they are involved in a car crash,” senior author Faisal G. Qureshi, an associate professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, said in a written statement.

Qureshi and fellow researchers analyzed four years of data from the NHTSA to understand mortality rates. The data included 18,116 children who were 15 years old and younger and involved in fatal crashes; of those, nearly 16 percent died. Mortality rates among the children varied from 0.25 per 100,000 in Massachusetts to 3.20 per 100,000 in Mississippi, where a higher percentage of unrestrained children and rural roads contributed to the death rate.

In addition, the Traffic Safety Coalition, which is funded by the traffic-camera industry, said the study supports research done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety which found that there was a 30% increase in fatal crashes after these traffic camera programs had been shut down. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimated that nearly 1,300 lives had been saved by the use of these cameras in 79 cities across the U.S.

“Removing this potentially lifesaving technology is not only irresponsible, it’s a public health risk,” Paul Oberhauser, the national co-chairman of the Traffic Safety Coalition, said in a statement.

Red Light Camera Facts

Kunkle, Fredrick. “Red-light cameras save children’s lives, study finds.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 04 Nov. 2016. Web. 09 Mar. 2017.

Facts courtesy of: NCSR