Do Red Light Camera Prevent Car Collisions in Kansas City, Missouri?

1227798_traffic_lights.jpgOur Kansas City personal injury attorneys understand that red light cameras are a controversial topic: there's a clear dispute over cameras' effectiveness in reducing car accidents in Missouri. Many argue that they're inaccurate traffic enforcement devices that only generate revenue for the city (and increase the number of rear-end accidents). Others argue that these cameras are necessary to ensure motorist safety. According to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT), motorists are much less likely to run a red light when a camera is looking over them. A MoDOT study concluded that these cameras reduce right-angle accidents that cause serious injury or death. The reported reduction is as much as 50%, according to the Florissant Patch.

"We believe automated enforcement is a good tool for keeping motorists safe," said MoDOT Director Kevin Keith.

However, the Kansas City police department recently released a report that evaluates camera performance, and the results are somewhat unclear. According to the report, "Accidents went up at some locations and down in others without any clear patterns." Overall, the total number of accidents was actually 12% higher than before the cameras were installed. Right angle accidents did decrease by 4%, but rear end accidents shot up 17%.

Missouri started experimenting with red-light cameras back in 2006. When a motorist passes through and intersection on a red light, the camera takes a picture of the vehicle's license plate and, in some Missouri counties, the driver. Once an incident is recorded, the driver is sent a red light ticket in the mail.

In 2011, a policy was put into effect requiring that signs be placed at these intersections to warn motorists of the cameras. The policy also requires that any tickets for violations be issued by certified police officers. But the fate of all Missouri red light cameras is uncertain, as state lawmakers are currently considering legislation that would ban the devices statewide. Opponents of the cameras have suggested that they violate drivers' basic legal rights. "Defendants have to go in and prove they were not driving or were not in the car at the moment," Defense attorney Howard Lotven says. "They have to prove they're innocent, rather than the city having to prove their guilt."

While some studies demonstrate that red light cameras have reduced the number of red light running and traffic accidents, other sources have reported an increase in other types of accidents, such as rear-end collisions. These types of accidents are likely to occur at intersections with cameras because when drivers know that the red light camera is present, they're likely to come to an abrupt, unnecessary stop.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that more than 20% of all traffic accidents in the U.S. are caused by motorists running a red light. These particular accidents kill close to 800 people each year.

According to MoDOT, more than 42% of the Missouri Highway System accidents were at intersections with public roads or streets in 2006. These accidents resulted in more than a quarter of all total fatal accidents.

"Road safety camera programs save lives," said American Traffic Solutions President and CEO James Tuton. "We see reductions in collisions and violations in community after community where intersection and speed cameras are properly deployed. And while there is no question this new policy will change the way cameras are placed in Missouri, we're hopeful that it can be implemented without changing the program's effectiveness."

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident in Liberty, Independence, Lee's Summit, Blue Springs, or elsewhere in the Kansas City metropolitan area, contact the attorneys at Aaron Sachs and Associates for a free initial consultation. Call 1-888-777-AUTO.

Additional Resources:

MoDOT Study Finds Red-Light Cameras Reduce Accidents, Increase Safety, by Angela Atkinson, Florissant Patch

Study of Red Light Cameras in Kansas City, MO, by Kansas City, Missouri Police Department, 1/24/2012

Attorney meetings by appointment only
Categories: Car Accidents