NMA Red Light Camera Fact Sheet ( PDF )
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James Bonneson, P.E.
Research Engineer
Texas Transportation Institute

Karl Zimmerman, P.E.
Assistant Research Engineer
Texas Transportation Institute

Report 0-4196-2
Project Number 0-4196

Safety Impact of Red-Light-Running in Texas: Where is Enforcement Really Needed?

September 2004

The Texas Transportation Institute examined concerns that red light cameras were being used by cities that had not first exhausted available engineering alternatives such as improving signal timing and visibility.

They studied individual police accident reports from 181 intersection approaches across three Texas cities over three years to determine the most effective solutions for problem intersections.

The study found that improving signal visibility reduced violations 25 percent. Other changes could net between 18 and 48 percent reductions. Yet they found when the yellow signal was 1 second shorter than the standard ITE timing formula specifies, red light violations jumped 110%. Extending the yellow an additional second yielded 53% reduction in violations, producing the greatest benefit of all the factors studied (2-6).

When safety is the main concern, preventing crashes is more important than reducing violations. Yellow signal timing again proved most effective in reducing crashes. An extra second yielded a 40 percent collision reduction.

The study also found that the vast majority of red light camera tickets are issued within the first second a light is red — in fact, the average ticket is issued when the light has been red for half a second or less. Yet right-angle crashes, which account for the majority of red-light related collisions, “with one exception, all of the right-angle crashes occurred after 5 seconds or more of red” (5-16). In other words, tickets are being issued primarily for split-second violations where collisions are not occurring.

Click here for a full copy of the study.