The City of Pasco conducted a survey last September on two of the busiest intersections in town. They were also the intersections that had the highest number of collisions. City council members were concerned and said that dozens of drivers were running red lights and causing collisions.

The city targeted these intersections with law enforcement. With law enforcement pulling cars over to the side of the road, the congestion and traffic delays worsened. So they started looking for another safety mechanism that would decrease the potential of crashes, as well as keep the flow of traffic going. The solution–traffic safety cameras.

The city council members will still be revising plans over the next few months. They welcome the community’s input on whether this is the right long-term solution to their dangerous intersection debacles.

Motorists committed almost 200 traffic violations in a recent 12-hour study according to Pete Serrano, a Pasco City Council member. Most of these violations were California-type stops and turning on right-hand turns without stopping first.  There is neither the manpower nor the time to deter these infractions that can easily turn into terrible collisions.

“We’re not looking at this as a way of making money or replacing officers to make money, we’re looking at this as an opportunity to provide additional safety mechanisms for our citizens.” Serrano says that changing driver behavior is the ultimate goal of adding the traffic cameras so that every commuter and their passengers are safe on the road.

 If the city adds the cameras, an officer would review the data and determine if the violation demands a citation. The offender would then receive a ticket in the mail.

Red Light Runners

Motorists running a red light killed an average of two people every day in the United States in 2015.

So–what exactly is a red light runner? If a vehicle enters an intersection any time after the signal light has turned red, the driver has committed a violation. The law does not consider motorists who are inadvertently in an intersection when the signal changes (such as when making a left-hand turn) to be red light runners. In locations where the law permits a right turn on red, drivers must come to a complete stop before turning. The law may otherwise consider them a red light runner. Violations also include people turning right on red light at intersections where doing so is prohibited.

Dangerous Dashes

Red light runners have caused hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of injuries each year. In 2015, motorists killed 771 people and injured an estimated 137,000 by running a red light. Red light runners struck pedestrians, bicyclists, and people in other vehicles over 50% of the time. The bottom line is this: those crashes and deaths could have been prevented. Red light running fatalities increased by 7% between 2011 and 2015, costing communities an estimated $336 million dollars in damages and restitution.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a study of urban crashes and found that those who ran red lights, stop signs, and other traffic controls were the most common type of auto accidents–a whopping 22 percent of total accidents. Injuries occurred in 39 percent of the crashes in which motorists ran traffic controls.

Improving Intersection Safety

There’s a growing trend that communities across the county have opted to do for improving intersection safety–build and use more roundabouts. However, civil and traffic engineers generally agree that roundabouts are not the right answer for congested crossings. They’re not a viable possibility for every junction either. Traffic committees have considered lengthening the timing on yellow lights, but results from testing areas have not been as expected, as the change hasn’t helped decrease the number of red light runners.

Privacy Privileges?

Having cameras monitoring traffic has led some citizens to question whether their use falls under a violation of citizens’ privacy. It’s a natural concern. But here are a few things to consider as well. Driving is a regulated activity on public roads. By obtaining a license, every driver and motorist agrees to abide by certain rules, such as to obey traffic signals. Neither the law nor common sense suggests drivers should not be observed on the road or have their violations documented. Red light camera systems can photograph only a vehicle’s rear license plate, not vehicle occupants, however in some places the law requires a photograph of the driver.

The IIHS studies have continued to show that installing traffic cameras reduces the red light running violations by as much as 40-50 percent. A logical conclusion would be a reduction in crash casualties means a reduction in costs as well.

Cameras Save Taxpayers and Communities Money

A single fatal crash costs society $6.8 million in 2017 dollars, and includes costs to victims, families, government, insurers and taxpayers. And approximately 7% of all motor vehicle crash costs are paid from public revenues. Seven percent might seem like an insignificant number, but here’s the shocker–overall, those not directly involved in crashes pay for over three-quarters of all crash costs, primarily through insurance premiums, taxes and congestion related costs such as travel delay, excess fuel consumption and increased environmental impacts.

Accidents, crashes, and driving mishaps effect us all and we all shoulder the costs for them. Even those red light runners.

Auto Accident & Personal Injury Lawyers Are Here to Help

No doubt, we all can do a better to be safer drivers. Traffic cameras work to curb dangerous driving behaviors, but we live in a day and age of constant mobility and distraction. Driving takes all of our attention and effort.  Getting complacent or in a hurry may cause us to marathon through traffic and red lights. Slow down and remember that arriving safe is more important than arriving first.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a auto accident caused by a red light runner or a distracted driver, call Fielding Law Group today for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.  Our team of professionals work hard to get you the compensation you deserve so you can recover and get on with your life. Remember–Don’t let an accident wreck YOU!