Based on operational data collected by the City of Tallahassee, listed in the table below, the use of red light cameras has resulted in more crashes at red light camera intersections three years after the implementation than three years before.
Total crashes increased from 377 before implementation to 509 after implementation. More specifically, rear-end crashes increased from 231 to 360, while right angle crashes decreased from 23 before implementation to 15 after implementation.
City Staff will report to City Commissioners that, “while rear-end crashes may increase, the overall crash harm to the victims is significantly reduced with the installation of red light cameras because rear-end crashes tend to be less severe than right-angle crashes which tend to occur when someone runs a red light.”
City Staff reported that the number of overall injuries from accidents decreased from 90 to 58. However, City staff did not provide any details on the nature of the injuries suffered in the crashes or the number of injuries associated with right angle crashes.
Red Light Camera Intersection Crashes Before and After Activation
Rear End Crashes
Right Angles Crashes
The City of Tallahassee began a Red Light Camera Safety Program on July 1, 2010. Currently, there are 19 red light safety cameras in operation at seven intersections within the City.
Over the three year period of operation the City issued 20,122 violations in 2011, 16,632 in 2012, and 16,386 in 2013.
As of Sept. 2013, the City has collected approximately $6.3 million in fines. However, only $487,000 of the $6.3 million stayed in Tallahassee. Just under $3 million went to the vendor ACS and $3.2 million went to the state of Florida. The remaining $487,000 was transferred to the City’s General Fund.
City Staff indicates that the focus of the program is to reduce the number of right angle crashes and thus reduce the number of injuries.
Is the program cost-effective in avoiding right angle crashes and injuries?
The reduction in right angle crashes from 23 to 15 translates into approximately $787,000 in fines to avoid each right angle crashes and the reduction in injuries from 90 to 58, translates into approximately $196,875 in fines to avoid each injury.
To calculate a more definitive cost-effective assessment, data on the cost of the injuries and the crashes would have to be made available.
The City Staff reported that “the City of Tallahassee does not have plans to expand the Red Light Camera Safety Program. City staff will continue to monitor the program and review violation data from the existing cameras to determine if any changes are needed.”