According to Seattle Police, there are 30 red light cameras throughout Seattle. They place the cameras at intersections using the following criteria:
• A history of serious vehicle accidents or pedestrian accidents at the intersections. • A high rate of vehicles running red lights, especially to make left turns or to go straight. • An absence of obstacles, such as trees, that would prevent a camera from being installed. • Recommendations from the community regarding dangerous intersections. • Whether or not there is another red light camera in the immediate area.
Do red light cameras work? Opinions vary. Although Seattle Police have found that installing a red light camera can reduce red light violations by about 50 percent, it is less clear whether or not the cameras actually reduce accidents and injuries.
Most studies have shown that red light cameras do not reduce the number of car accidents at intersections. The reason? Some drivers will abruptly stop when the light turns yellow or red, causing a significant number of rear-end accidents. That is, while the number broadside collisions go down, rear-end accidents go up, evening out the number of overall collisions. However, safety experts agree that red light cameras may reduce the number of serious injuries at intersections since rear-end accidents are often less serious than broadside accidents and head-on accidents.
All in all, Seattle red light cameras result in about 15,000 traffic citations each year. Will there be even more in the future? According to Seattle officials, it will all depend on the budget and future need.