Red-light cameras save lives but may not have public support

Red-light cameras have encountered a fair share of suspicion and criticism, and some of it is just. For example, some cities do use cameras more as a way of increasing revenue and less as a way of reducing violations and accidents. Yet West Virginia residents should know that the benefits are real.

First, it should be stated that more than in red-light running crashes in 2016, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Of these, over half were pedestrians, bicyclists, occupants of other vehicles and, in short, individuals other than the red-light runner. Most see the danger of red-light running; 92.9% of respondents to a AAA survey said they do, yet 42.7% admitted to red-light running at least once in the previous 30 days.

The IIHS compared big cities with red-light cameras to those without and found that the former see 21% fewer fatalities resulting from red-light running crashes. Cameras also reduce traffic violations by 40%.

Yet fewer cities have red-light camera systems. In 2012, the number was 533 while in mid-2018, that number was 421. Gaining the public's support for camera systems, then, is the challenge that many cities must take up. AAA, the IIHS and other organizations have provided a checklist for building and maintaining that support.

Those who are the victims of a red-light running crash would certainly have a stronger case if a camera had captured the defendant's act of negligence. Insurance claims are a serious undertaking, so victims may want legal counsel. In West Virginia, plaintiffs can recover damages as long as they are less than 50% at fault for an accident. Any degree of fault will naturally lower the amount they are eligible for, but with a lawyer, they might negotiate for a fair settlement out of court.

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