Drivers in South Carolina and around the country often react angrily when municipalities announce plans to install red light cameras despite clear evidence showing that the devices save lives. Many motorists believe red light cameras are used to generate revenue and not prevent accidents, and fierce opposition to the devices has led to them being removed in many parts of the country. In 2012, 533 cities and towns in the United States used red light cameras. That number has since fallen to 421.
This has road safety advocacy groups like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety worried. An IIHS study conducted in 2017 revealed that installing red light cameras reduces violations by approximately 40% and lowers deaths associated with red-light running by 21%. The nonprofit organizations says that towns and cities could encounter less resistance to red light camera schemes if they limit the devices to dangerous intersections, provide evidence showing that the cameras are improving safety and listen to feedback from the community.
A recent survey of American drivers released by the American Automobile Association reveals why red light cameras are needed. More than 40% of the motorists polled by the organizations Foundation for Traffic Safety admitted that they had run a red light on at least one occasion during the previous month even though they knew it was dangerous. This kind of behavior claimed about 800 lives in 2016 according to the IIHS.
Red light cameras sometimes play an important role in lawsuits. When car accidents take place in intersections, experienced personal injury attorneys may check the scene to see if red light cameras are in use. When they are, attorneys might obtain photographs that show their clients were injured by a red-light runner. When red light cameras are not present, attorneys may opt to visit nearby buildings to look for video surveillance systems that might have recorded footage of the accident.