MoDOT Study Finds Red-Light Cameras Reduce Accidents, Increase Safety
New policies are put in place to notify residents of camera-enforced areas and ensure citations are issued by certified officers.
Have you ever received a citation in the mail after running a red light in a camera-enforced intersection? If so, you’re among hundreds of other Florissant residents who have found public safety violations in their mailboxes thanks to red-light cameras.
The Florissant City Council passed an ordinance that would begin a red-light enforcement program to improve public safety back in October 2005. The city’s first red-light enforcement cameras were installed in April 2006, with live enforcement beginning in May of that year.
Since then, many residents have wondered how effective and accurate these cameras could actually be, but a recent study completed by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has confirmed that while some policies needed to be changed, the red-light cameras are effective in reducing accidents around intersections with traffic lights.
Within the first year of operation, the mere presence of the cameras in Florissant produced a 51 percent reduction in red-light citations in the areas they were installed.
In fact, it is thanks in part to MoDOT’s study that red light and speed cameras will remain in Florissant and throughout the state of Missouri. The study, which was done to determine whether the cameras are useful in the enforcement of red-light stops and speed limits, resulted in the lifting of a three-month moratorium last month on new photo enforcement zones.
The study found that people are far less likely to run a red light when cameras are present. Plus, MoDOT found a 45 percent reduction in right-angle crashes that caused death or serious injuries at intersections that had cameras. Surprisingly, though, the study also found that there was a 14 percent jump in the total number of crashes at those intersections.
MoDOT director Kevin Keith said in a press release that the new policy will provide better guidance for law enforcement agencies and offers additional oversight to ensure that the cameras are being used to increase safety and prevent injuries and death.
“The policy was put in place to help ensure that cameras are used to ticket red light runners and are used fairly and consistently,” said MoDOT’s outreach coordinator, Sandra Hentges.
The new red-light camera policy has already taken effect. It requires that a study and a 30-day public awareness campaign are completed for new red-light camera installations. The policy also requires that officers are POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) Certified in order to issue camera citations.
Florissant police chief William Karabas said that MoDOT worked closely with the city of Florissant on setting up the cameras in town, and that MoDOT had approved plans and issued permits for all of the cameras installed at Florissant intersections. He added that more than 1,000 injuries had occurred at the most dangerous intersections during the previous three years from as many as 900 accidents.
Florissant resident Gina Abernathy echoed the concerns of many other residents when she said that while she thinks the cameras can do some good, she’s not so sure they’re entirely accurate.
“I think they’re good as far as increasing the safety of drivers, but how do they know if they get the right person or plate for the ticket?” she said. “The cameras are taking pictures of moving cars.”