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Red Light Cameras Record Car Crashes

Catch these cars crashing through Florida intersections, including in Gulfport and St. Petersburg.

Red light cameras are not just catching violators. They are providing a stark visual record of car accidents caused by motorists who blow through red lights.

American Traffic Soutions Inc. has provided this YouTube video of car crashes at red lights in Florida. It includes a pair of Gulfport fender benders and ends with a high-impact crash in St. Petersburg (at 1:35).

This video is not for the feint-hearted, but helps to drive home the impact of these out-of-nowhere accidents.

"What these videos don’t show are the victims. Each year hundreds are killed and more than 100,000 are injured nationwide in red-light running related collisions," said Charles Territo of  American Traffic Solutions, Inc.

Territo noted that in 2009, 62 Floridians were killed in red-light running related Red-light safety cameras change driver behavior and help save lives. "The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that over time, cities using cameras see a 24 percent reduction in red-light running related fatalities," Territo said. 

Each month, the state of Florida collects more than $3 million from red-light runners. That revenue is distributed to the general fund, trauma center trust fund, and the brain and spinal cord research trust fund, he said.

Elizabeth Neily December 23, 2011 at 12:39 PM
Scary . . . Especially terrified in parking lots where people back out of spaces without looking behind them.
St Pete Driver December 23, 2011 at 12:43 PM
So, these videos are showing crashes taken by red light cameras that did nothing to prevent crashes. How are these things supposed to make us safer again?
Red December 23, 2011 at 01:10 PM
They didn't need to waste millions on "car crash documentation", the drivers already knew that a crash had occurred. Anyone involved in the sale of the cameras now happened to now be the suppliers newest stockholder? Perhaps the pay outs are a bit more subtle.
Lynda December 23, 2011 at 03:28 PM
The only thing that will make us all safer is to convince the arrogant drivers who refuse to follow traffic safety rules such as stopping at red lights to join the rest of us in driving safely. Red light cameras are just one tool in this fight. Also, It would be helpful to stop defending drivers whose self-centered, " I own the road" actions endanger everyone.
St Pete Driver December 23, 2011 at 05:38 PM
Lynda - I am not defending bad drivers, I am saying that red light cameras are proven not to work just as these videos show that they do nothing to stop red light running or intersection crashes. Red light cameras are about one thing: Money. If they were meant to be a safety tool they might try to identify the driver, or assign points to the driver, or not wait up to a month to send the registered vehicle owner the citation, but as it is now they are just ordinance violations used to generate money for the city. They didn't even bother to put these at the most dangerous intersections, so they clearly know they aren't about safety.
Jim December 23, 2011 at 06:22 PM
Cameras give a false sense of security, because they can't stop the real late runners and the accidents they cause - like in this video of accidents the cameras didn't prevent! Longer yellows drop violations by 2/3, and the effect is permanent. But even with high fines in some states ($500 in CA), cameras and longer yellows don't stop the people who run multiple seconds late and cause the bad accidents. Most real late runners don't do it on purpose - they fail to see the signal, because they are lost, unfamiliar with the area, distracted, or impaired. To stop the late runners, local traffic engineers need to make high-accident intersections more obvious, improve the visual cues that say, "You are coming to an important intersection." Florida's DOT found that improved pavement markings (paint!) cut running by up to 74%, without installing cameras - thus without the side effect of increased rearenders. Also make the signal lights brighter, bigger in diameter, add backboards to them, and place the poles on the NEAR side of the intersection, not so far away. Put brighter bulbs in the street lights at intersections. Put up lighted name signs, for the cross streets. Longer yellows and improved visual cues are easy and cheap to do, so can be done all over town, unlike cameras, which are expensive and can drive business away.
Lynda December 23, 2011 at 06:56 PM
Thank you for your clarification about not defending bad drivers. I guess I still fail to understand the opposition to red light cameras, however. Nearly all local governments benefit from revenue which comes from traffic violations. What is it about red light cameras which generates such consistent opposition?
Lynda December 23, 2011 at 07:03 PM
Sensible solutions to improve the safety at intersections. I certainly hope Florida DOT is pushing for funding to put these improvements in place. Unlikely Gov. Scott will approve. I do wonder where your conclusion that "most late runners don't do it on purpose" comes from. Are there studies, opinions from police agencies, etc? From my personal observation in Gulfport and St. Pete area, most late runners run red lights on purpose, often when other lanes of traffic have stopped and sometimes changing lanes to avoid cars stopped at the lights. The major problem I see with running red lights is the arrogance of the drivers who do not believe traffic rules apply to them or feel they are so important that they can break the rules.
St Pete Driver December 23, 2011 at 07:10 PM
My first problem with Red Light Cameras is that it is outsourced law enforcement, the first time our city has outsourced a law enforcement function like this in fact. And not to a local company, but to Goldman-Sachs-owned ATS which is located in Arizona, and that's where millions of dollars are going, flowing out of our local economy. Also, there is no certification process for the equipment like there is for radar guns or breathalyzers, and there is no penalty for tickets being given to the wrong people. Second, there is no conclusive proof that red light cameras increase safety at all. In fact earlier this year USF College of Health released a second study on the subject, showing that there is more evidence of red light cameras causing more harm than good. This is backed up by communities like Bradenton that have had cameras for over 2 years, yet have seen crashes go up in spite of lowered traffic volume. Third, these citations do nothing to get bad drivers off the streets. They are like parking tickets, you can get 70 of them and have no chance of losing your license, especially since the driver is not ticketed. Fourth, most revenue generated by these cameras are from people making right turns or going through the light less than a half second after the light turns red. Right turns on red are not dangerous(even city staff says this), and extending yellow time would cut these red light violations in more than half(as proven in many other cities).
St Pete Driver December 23, 2011 at 07:23 PM
There are several studies that cover why people run red lights, and the conclusion is that most red light running is unintentional. A good study to read is "Inadvertent Red Light Violations: An Economic Analysis" by Craig A. Depken from the University of Texas at Arlington. That study is only about inadvertent red light running whereas most of the other studies on the subject also focus on other topics.
Roger December 24, 2011 at 07:09 AM
Lynda - you could not have shilled better for camera companies better. Why is fewer instances of red-light-running in Georgia than in Florida? Because Georgia mandates longer yellow lights than Georgia.
Philip Penrose December 24, 2011 at 03:03 PM
I am in agreement that cameras do nothing for safety and are primarily ATM machines for the municipality. The problem, as I see it, is people have simply taken driving for granted.The act of driving should command no less than 100% of the driver's attention. Driving, for some, is simply an annoyance that must take place in getting from point A to point B while simultaneously taking care of other things when situated behind the wheel. Stopping at a stop sign, signaling an intent to change lanes, slowing down at a yellow light...all seem to be optional now. Tailgating and speeding seem to be a right now. And driving with your emotions in charge...another potentially deadly road-trip. There isn't a government-imposed answer for this problem - the change has to come from each individual...and red-light cameras certainly won't stimulate this change.
Rich Bridges December 25, 2011 at 04:58 PM
I am tired of getting that BRIGHT flash in my eyes at night at red lights! It creates a hazard, I see SPOTS all the way home after getting flashed right in the eyes and I am a law abiding safe driver! What is that all about?? Put more cops out there and make them do their jobs! NO cameras!!! It is unconstitutional and from the videos, proof they do NOT save lives or prevent the idiots from running red lights!!
Linda Hersey December 25, 2011 at 05:09 PM
The camera flash at 22nd Ave North and 4th Street is particularly bright and seems to go off constantly. I think it needs to be re-calibrated.
Rich Bridges December 25, 2011 at 05:19 PM
Yes, it is, Linda!! And also the one at Gulfport Blvd (22nd) and 58th Street South! I live a mile from that one and it always blinds me at night!
Forest December 26, 2011 at 02:54 PM
Every major intersection needs a review. Much of the timing on the color code change is antiquated. Commuters have a very good idea of exactly how much time they have to "beat" yellows, cruise through green upon green and sit and grow moss at some of the reds. If public safety is a true concern, light timing needs to be checked out.
Tony Althaus December 27, 2011 at 02:11 PM
I feel the only good of a "red light camera" is to prove guilt in an accident, there are too many variables involved when your driving, and most likely paying attention to. Sometimes you're watching something else as your approaching a changing light and roll though the red as you are turning. What should you do? SLAM your brakes so you get rear-ended? If the red light turn was made and as a driver you know there was nothing around as you approached the intersection and navigate the turn without an incident why should you get a $158 ticket for that. If the video shows a "close call" or "near miss" then perhaps you should be ticketed but without "points" toward your license what do you learn?
Rich Bridges December 27, 2011 at 02:30 PM
Tony, I got one of those $158 tickets, in Lealman on 54th Ave and 62nd Street. I slowed way down, there was NO ONE around at all, did not create any hazard, rolled on thru on my "right on red". Surprise, I get a ticket in the mail with photos of my license plate, etc! I paid the ticket but I do not feel I should have had to. These cameras need to GO!!!!
Rick Boze December 27, 2011 at 08:09 PM
I have read the comments and all have good points, I am opposed to them because it does nothing but generate $$$$ for the local city or Arizona.Nothing is gained but the company shortening the yellow light and making more money(and yes every community has seen this happen). The yellow light is suppose to mean(or it did) evacuate the intersection, not stomp on the gas. Now days the red light is violated if any car is in the intersection, How about a 2 second delay between the red light on one side and the green on the other. That way the moron speeding up gets thru and the car stuck trying to turn, both get out of the way. So instead of making money do what it is suppose to do, control traffic and prevent accidents. Then ticket those who interfere with the flow. Cameras help in many ways not discussed, if the city has local control and uses it as eyes to control traffic and see where the actual problems are and either change the timing or install addition equipment to do real time changes, instead of an officer being present all the time and he/she can't do anything but put himself/herself in danger. And if something does cause an accident or could be used to help an investigation, check the footage. There are uses for the cameras other than to punish your citizens who are already footing the bill , and if the city can't afford them outright, do they really need them anyway?
Robert Vincent December 28, 2011 at 12:56 PM
After reviewing the comments on this article, I thought it appropriate to respond with some clarifications and a thought or two. 1. Injury crashes in Gulfport have decreased 46% following the implementation of the photo enforcement program. 2. ATS has no access to the signal phase controllers. In fact, neither does the City of Gulfport. All lights in Gulfport are maintained either by Pinellas County or the City of St. Petersburg. This means that yellow light times have not been decreased simply to increase violations as some have suggested. 3. Failure to pay a uniform traffic citation issued as a result of a photo-enforced violation WILL result in suspension of your driver license. The implication that there is no consequence is simply not true. 4. The vast majority of violations in Gulfport are straight-through, not right turns. While increasing yellow light times may have an immediate effect on intersection crashes, I believe it would only be temporary. As regular commuters become familiar with the timing, those inclined to push the limit would quickly recognize that the limit has just been extended.
St Pete Driver December 28, 2011 at 01:19 PM
Robert- "While increasing yellow light times may have an immediate effect on intersection crashes, I believe it would only be temporary. As regular commuters become familiar with the timing, those inclined to push the limit would quickly recognize that the limit has just been extended." Do you have any evidence of this or is this just your feeling? The Texas Transportation Institute 2003 study on the subject shows that some people adjust, but the majority do not, and that increasing yellow signal times has lasting and positive effects for reducing red light violations. This can even be seen in the state of Missouri just this year where the state raised yellow signal times across the state at state highway intersections and they have seen a SUSTAINED drop in red light violations at existing red light camera intersections of over 70%, even 6 months after raising yellow signal times. This has been proven in Florida as well, where Milton raised their yellow signal times at red light camera intersections and saw a 60% drop in violations. So, what proof do you have of your assertion that the benefits of raising the yellow signal time would be temporary? I've read the studies, and researched the real-world examples, and I can't find anything to support your claim.
Philip Penrose December 28, 2011 at 01:38 PM
"...1. Injury crashes in Gulfport have decreased 46% following the implementation of the photo enforcement program..." Hi Chief - I'm curious - what are the actual figures for injury crashes since the cameras were put in place in Gulfport? Did it drop from say...11 to 5 ? From 22 to 10? Phil
Robert Vincent December 28, 2011 at 02:26 PM
Philip, injury crashes decreased from 33 to 17 when comparing April-November of 2010 with the same time period in 2011. The cameras went live in March of 2011.
St Pete Driver December 28, 2011 at 02:47 PM
Just something to keep in mind, ATS(Gulfport's camera vendor) says that "six months of data is not enough time to judge them". http://lubbockonline.com/stories/021508/loc_247128772.shtml
Philip Penrose December 28, 2011 at 05:58 PM
Thanks for the info.
Douglas Hudson December 28, 2011 at 06:35 PM
Thanks, Chief! Looks like the cameras are doing their job!
Cherlene Willis December 29, 2011 at 05:11 AM
Hello everyone. In case you missed it, Gulfport Patch published a story on Dec. 7 titled "Red Light Cameras 'Doing Their Job'" http://patch.com/A-pqKb. Feel free to take a look and gather more information regarding the red light cameras in Gulfport, including information about crashes, violations and revenue. We've also attached a pdf with all of the information on that article. - Cherlene

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