Philly's Red Light Cameras: Effective or Ineffective?
New data released by the Philadelphia Police calls into question the effectiveness of the recently installed red light cameras. According to police statistics, the total number of collisions increased 12% for the intersections that have had cameras for at least a year. The Philadelphia Parking Authority, the agency responsible for running the red light camera program, disputes police data and asserts the number of collisions has actually decreased at most camera-enforced intersections.
According to the police data, there have been 1,982 crashes at red light camera intersections since installation. Prior to installation, the police report 1,765 accidents at these intersections. However, the number of fatal accidents in surveyed areas decreased from 9 down to 8. Officials opine that the increase in crashes may be due to drivers slamming on their breaks to avoid being caught on camera, and being struck from behind. Other factors that may have contributed to the increase in collisions include construction, speed or a general increase in traffic.
PPA officials question the validity of the police data and indicate that overall, crashes are down since installation of the red light cameras. The PPA’s own data with respect to three red light camera intersections on Roosevelt Boulevard found collisions were down by 8.5 percent. PPA officials assert that the cameras’ presence cause drivers to change their habits and think twice about speeding up to make a light. In addition, PPA officials believe the red light cameras have made navigating intersections safer for pedestrians.
Philadelphia is one of the few areas in the Commonwealth utilizing red light cameras. However, a measure recently passed in the state Senate would authorize Pittsburgh and small cities to install the devices as well.