Red-Light Cameras: Boost to Safety, or Big Worries?

Red-Light Cameras: Boost to Safety, or Big Worries?

The old joke goes something like this: Green light means go; a red light means stop; yellow light means speed up. In real life, however, actually driving like this can be disastrous.

Drivers who speed up when they should have braked often wind up going through red lights—causing automobile accidents and too many wrongful deaths. Instead of getting to their destination safe and sound, people are injured and killed. Doctors and wrongful death attorneys are kept all too busy. Families suffer horribly and needlessly.

Not surprisingly, getting drivers to slow down on yellow has long been a worthy, yet elusive goal.

Across the country, cities are turning to technology for help, namely, so-called red-light cameras that monitor intersections. Pass a red light and you can expect a ticket in the mail. The hope is, that’s incentive enough for drivers to brake on yellow.

Cities that use the cameras no longer have to rely on human enforcement for traffic light violations. It’s all automatic, and it catches every offender. Most important, it’s a cost-effective way to keep intersections safer and reduce automobile accidents that devastate lives and families. Proponents say the cameras are particularly good at preventing side-impact collisions, which are often particularly severe. That’s powerful stuff.

Little wonder, then, that motorists in Miami may be seeing such cameras soon. According to the Miami Herald, the city recently decided to install the technology at dozens of intersections. A city official said that he hoped the cameras would help drivers in Miami “learn to be careful.”

The cameras are also controversial. Some people are concerned about driver privacy; others worry that it’s a slippery slope and we’ll start using cameras to monitor other activities, too; others think the technology may inject a profit motive into law enforcement (more tickets, after all, mean more revenue).

But perhaps the biggest worry is that the cameras might actually increase rear-end collisions. Drivers brake sharply to avoid getting their picture taken, and instead of getting a ticket, they cause an accident.

To be sure, there are too many automobile accidents taking too many lives, and passengers, medical professionals, and lawyers like the Miami wrongful death attorneys at Grossman Roth welcome any advance that can decrease the number of senseless injuries and deaths.

There is a reason so many automobile accidents lead to tragedy and wrongful death lawsuits. Often the cause is thoughtless behavior—whether it’s speeding, driving while intoxicated, or simply hitting the gas instead of pressing the brake. At the end of the day, the best way to reduce accidents, injuries, and death is to drive responsibly, following the rules of the road and using commonsense standards of safety.

Red-light cameras may help—but we can help ourselves even more.


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