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Can Red Light Cameras Reduce Traffic Fatalities?

Over 300 Nevada residents were killed by speeding drivers in 2017; sadly, 168 of these deaths took place at busy intersections. To combat this disheartening reality, the Nevada Department of Public Safety is pushing for a bill that would legalize the use of automated traffic enforcement cameras.

If the bill is passed, we may be seeing the following traffic cameras at our intersections:

  • Red light cameras
  • Speed cameras
  • School zone cameras

The current law states that a law enforcement officer can only use a camera to ticket a speeding driver if the device is handheld or installed in their vehicle. If the new bill is ratified, cameras will be mounted to traffic lights in order to photograph the license plates of speeding (or otherwise negligent) drivers. The operator of the vehicle will receive a citation in the mail.

However, jurisdictions are treating these traffic cameras as a “last resort” option. Red light cameras, which are already legal in 24 states, have a complicated history marked by controversial successes and resounding failures. In fact, many cities across the country have enthusiastically adopted these cameras only to vote them out a short time later. Not only are red light cameras incredibly costly to maintain (just seven intersections can cost taxpayers over $200,000 in a fiscal year), they also increase the total number of intersection accidents, including rear-end collisions.

But can they reduce fatalities?

The Big Question

The National Transportation Safety Board recommended that Nevada utilize automated traffic enforcement cameras to decrease the annual number of traffic-related deaths across the state. According to Andrew Bennett, a Department of Public Safety Spokesperson, “An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study comparing cities with red light cameras to those without found the devices reduced the fatal red-light running crash rate by 21% and the rate of all types of fatal crashes at signalized intersections by 14%. Over 400 U.S. communities use red light cameras, and over 130 communities in the U.S. use cameras to enforce speed laws. Similar results should be expected in Las Vegas if this program is implemented.

Despite these incredible statistics, members of the Senate committee have voiced the following concerns:

  • Drivers could be double penalized if a person is ticketed by an officer and a red light camera.
  • The registered owner of a vehicle could be ticketed even if they weren’t the driver.
  • The fine for an infraction is left at the discretion at each jurisdiction.
  • Jurisdictions may target low-income areas with higher fines.
  • Jurisdictions could start prioritizing revenue over circumstantial incidents.

As previously stated, the greatest concern lawmakers have is regarding the safety of red light cameras. Automated traffic enforcement cameras tend to make drivers anxious and for understandable reasons. After all, red light cameras can’t account for human errors or unavoidable circumstances. For example, if a car gets stuck in an intersection because another vehicle was involved in an accident or broke down, that car driver will receive a ticket. This anxiety causes drivers to slam on their brakes at intersections just to avoid getting a ticket in the mail. In some cities, this has led to a 40-50% increase in rear-end collisions and personal injury claims.

Injured by a Negligent Drivers? Contact Bernstein & Poisson Today

It’s difficult to say how Nevada residents will react to automated traffic enforcement cameras. However, if you’re ever injured by a negligent driver at an intersection, for whatever reason, contact the Las Vegas attorneys at Bernstein & Poisson today. Our legal team has over 60 years of collective experience and a comprehensive understanding of fluctuating state traffic laws. We can help you maximize your claim and secure compensation that facilitates your recovery process.

We offer 24/7 legal services! Contact Bernstein & Poisson today at (702) 602-8869 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.