Traffic safety advocates love them. Activists and lawyers love to hate them.
Red-light cameras -- which snap pictures of motorists breaking the law, with the drivers being ticketed by mail -- have whipped up a heap of controversy across the country.
Opponents say they're unreliable, a waste of money and an invasion of privacy. Supporters say the cameras are a valuable high-tech weapon in the effort to improve traffic safety. Now, those supporters have a new piece of research on their side.
A study by the Texas Transportation Institute's Center for Transportation Safety found red-light cameras are "an effective means" of preventing deaths and injuries in car crashes.
Researchers examined more than 11,000 crash records at 275 intersections across Texas where red-light cameras were in place. They compared crash frequencies one, two and three years before and after the cameras were set up. The result: An overall reduction of 633 crashes at those intersections represented an 11 percent decline in wrecks statewide.
“These findings show clearly that red-light cameras offer significant safety benefits,” says Troy Walden, author of the study. “Most important, they help prevent the most severe and deadly type of intersection crashes.”