Study: Red Light Cameras Work in Philly


A new report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that red-light running was dramatically cut at some Philadelphia intersections once cameras were installed. Philadelphia picked locations for their high number of crashes. How drastically did the number of accidents drop? They fell 87% to 100%. Not too shabby. The cameras take a snapshot of a car’s license plate when it runs a red and then the city sends a $100 ticket to the owner.

Ten years ago, only New York City and San Francisco used red light cameras to catch violators. Today, more than 200 cities use them. We’ve experience red light cameras in Chicago, but unlike in Philadelphia, they’re not always clearly marked. They also issue citations for legal right turns on red (trust us, we know first-hand). What do you think? Do red light cameras work in your city?

Source: IIHS

By David Thomas | February 26, 2007 | Comments (12)
Tags: Safety



We're just about to get them in Spokane, Wa, so we'll find out. I'm a little worried about the ticketing on legal right turns.


It is just dumb to issue a ticket for legal right turns.

I mean, can't they have someone look at the pictures before sending out tickets?


The thing that scares me is I've had a malfunctioning camera cause me to get a ticket. Out of the blue one day I got a ticket that was from the state of New York. It was already past due and I had gone with my wife one weekend and the ticket said that I had gone through a toll booth without paying (which I had). After calling the number on the ticket and submitting a letter to review the tape....weeks later they let me know that it had been dropped. While this isn't a REDLIGHT camera, I believe it's applicable.


Nice way to violate due process of law.

Judge Jim Hansen

Do your homework before you published their biased report.
IIHS is funded by the 70 main US insurance companies. They happen to
do the crash dummy testing for all new vehicles (good research), which
affords them a positive reputation in the press. In California,
Arizona, and Illinois, the photo enforcement tickets carry license
points. So the insurance companies are able to earn anywhere from $25-
1000 a year extra on each photo ticket -- for up to five years. IIHS
isn't a puppet of anyone, it is a direct beneficiary of camera
enforcement. There is no accurate way to estimate their income in the
US, but in the UK the insurance industry makes close to $1 billion a
year on photo ticketing -- that's free money because they provide no
extra service for that revenue.

One other interesting item. The main red light camera "researchers" at
IIHS, Richard Retting, was the New York DOT official who first brought
red light cameras into the U.S. in the early 90s.


It is good to decrease the abuse of running a red light, but did the studies reveal any trends regarding changes in rear-end accidents at the same lights?

The study also claimed that increasing yellow light times reduced the incidence of red-light running. This usually only occurs until people get used to the longer yellow, then they resume prior behavior. Also, intersections that don't get the longer yellow may have an increase in red-light running.

I think the problem is that people are inattentive--if there's not a stopped car in front of them (and even sometimes if there is), they're not likely to stop for a yellow. They see a green light 8/10/15/20 seconds before they enter the intersection, never look at the light again, and assume they can make it through. Not sure what the solution is, other than increased driver licensing standards.

I see people get pulled over regularly for speeding on the highway (the safest place to exceed the speed limit), but I think I've only seen one person ever pulled over for running a red light. Perhaps increased real-life enforcement would be more effective than putting up cameras, and it would eliminate the due-process objection to the cameras.

the study showed an actual decrease in accidents, nto violations. sorry that's worded wrong I'm fixing the post.

As a city-state, Singapore has numerous traffic light cameras all over the island.

Apparently, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) of Singapore believes that the red light cameras are effective in reducing accidents at traffic junctions, and these cameras certainly help to add additional revenue to the country's coffer.

In addition, it is a very cost effective system to deter people from dashing the red lights - something that a highly efficient country like Singapore would love to implement ;).

Most importantly, perhaps the red light cameras worked and help to save lives, here's a study done APHA in 2001/2002 (also drawing data from Australia, Singapore and United Kingdom) which shows that crashes reduced by 7% and injuries by 29%, see:

Lastly, in Singapore, if a driver dashes a red light and got 'caught' by the camera, apart from having to pay a hefty fine, he / she will also get 12 demerit points, which is big, considering the fact that each driver is only allowed to clock up to 24 demerit points over a 2 years period, before getting his / her license revoked.

Something not to be taken lightly... for safety and for the love of driving.

There is a way to legally beat these cameras:

A majority of red light & speed cameras utilize strong flash to photograph the license plate on your car. Once sprayed on your license plate, PhotoBlocker’s special formula produces a high-powered gloss that reflects the flash back towards the camera. This overexposes the image of your license plate, rendering the picture unreadable.

Research results are nonsense,

Accidents actually increased. Also signs are placed in inconspicuous locations so as to entrap drivers. Law states that signs must be placed in conspicuous location for violation to be enforceable. My suggestion: Put the sign on the lights if you claim it is for safety and not revenue.

PPA are a bunch of idiots from the top down.

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