Do Red Light Cameras Improve Traffic Safety?
According to US News, North Carolina’s traffic fatalities are at their highest in the last two decades. 2021 saw 1,755 deaths on the road across the state. Many people, including lawmakers are searching for innovative ways to keep drivers, passengers, and pedestrians safe. But are traffic enforcement technologies the way to do it? Some research indicates Fayetteville’s red light cameras are not as effective at improving safety they promised to be.
At best, the results of nationwide Red Light Camera (RLC) programs appear mixed. The controversial monitoring systems generate income for the government and the private entities that frequently operate them. However, researchers have yet to prove conclusively that RLCs keep people safe.
Data from the North Carolina programs indicate that accidents occur at the same or a higher rate in RLC intersections. The Fayetteville Observer reported crashes at these locations saw an increase of 6.7% in just two years.
Fayetteville’s city council members speculate that these statistics would be even worse without the cameras, citing the low rate of recidivism once a violator is ticketed. However, there is no empirical evidence that suggests the cameras are protecting the city from an even higher increase in crash rates.
Even though red light cameras don’t conclusively promote safety, local governments emphasize the benefit to its schools. However, the program website clearly states that only 65% of its proceeds go to Cumberland County schools).
State legislation requires the government to return least 90% of proceeds. Nevertheless, Fayetteville and other North Carolina municipalities are currently defending these practices as constitutional.
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