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Red light cameras are under scrutiny but save lives

Florida residents who speed quickly through red lights may be aware of red light camera programs in their communities. Red light cameras are designed to take a picture of those who run a red light. These pictures are then sent with a citation to the driver.

Critics say that red light cameras are merely used as a source of revenue for states while advocates for the cameras say that they reduce accidents and fatalities. Both sides are partially true. Some cities, such as Chicago, have been criticized for having the shortest allowable times for yellow lights while having the highest usage of a red light system in the country. This potentially results in profitable revenue for the city.

Several studies tout the benefits of red light camera systems. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that red light camera systems reduce red light running violations by 40%. The study also found that when comparing large cities to smaller cities, those with red light systems reduced fatalities from red light running by 21%. Though statistics show that the systems are helpful, red light cameras have been on the decline. In 2012, 533 communities had red light systems; this number decreased to 421 by July 2019. Fatalities have increased during the same time by 17%. Advocates for Highway Safety is implementing several programs to encourage cities to use red light systems to decrease fatalities.

An estimated 800 fatalities are caused each year by drivers running red lights. These fatalities can leave families with costly medical bills and the loss of loved ones. Drivers have the responsibility to heed traffic signals while operating a motor vehicle; when they don't and an accident occurs, they may have behaved negligently. For example, a driver may run a red light while distracted by their cellphone and hit the side of another vehicle, killing the passenger. A personal injury lawyer may be able to file a civil suit on behalf of the deceased passenger's family, helping them to collect medical and compensatory damages.

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