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Red-light cameras save lives but need more public support

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recorded more than 800 deaths from red-light running collisions in 2016. Of those fatalities, more than half were pedestrians, bicyclists and occupants in vehicles other than the offender. Residents of Oklahoma should know that installing traffic cameras has long been encouraged as a way for communities to reduce the number of red-light violations and crashes.

For instance, various IIHS studies have found that red-light cameras reduce the number of violations by around 40%. Large cities with cameras see 21% fewer red-light crash deaths than large cities without them. The IIHS discovered that between 2012 and 2018, when the number of communities with red-light cameras went down from 533 to 421, there was an increase of 17% in red-light running collisions.

There are several reasons why fewer communities are installing red-light cameras. One is suspicion among the public that cameras are only a way for governments to generate revenue. The suspicion is not an unfounded one. For instance, Chicago had the largest red-light camera system in 2014, but this was combined with the shortest yellow lights allowable.

AAA, the IIHS and other safety organizations have compiled a checklist of things that communities can do to ensure public support of cameras. Getting the public involved, such as on advisory committees, is highly recommended.

Red-light runners who cause car accidents will be held liable for any injuries they cause. Of course, victims themselves may have been careless in some small way, in which case the courts will determine each party's degree of negligence. Oklahoma is a comparative negligence state that allows plaintiffs to recover damages as long as their degree of fault is less than the defendant's. To help ensure the maximum settlement possible, a victim may wish to hire a lawyer.

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