The city of Palm Beach installs three new red-light cameras and accidents double; something does not quite add up. In the first 70 days of their existence, the Palm Beach red-light cameras have generated a third of a million dollars from 2,675 issued fines. While this revenue is good for the city, what is troubling is the accident statistics at the intersections where these cameras are installed.
According to a report conducted by The Palm Beach Post from February 21 to May 1 at the three intersections with red-light cameras:
–Rear-end collisions increased to five from two. Rear-end accidents sometimes go up with cameras because anxious drivers are more likely to stop abruptly.
–Overall accidents increased to seven from six.
These statistics beg the question: Is that third of a million dollars in revenue worth the potential personal injury risk that these cameras may be causing?
The counterargument to the question posed above is that red-light cameras are thought to discourage illegal behavior, and may actually be preventing serious accidents from happening. As stated by a Palm Beach Car Crash Lawyer: while the red-light cameras may be causing more rear-end collisions, they might also be preventing more serious accidents from occurring by reducing the number of drivers who run red lights.
A study conducted by the state of Virginia in 2007 seems to support both theories. The study found that after red-light cameras were installed, rear-end collisions increased 27%. However, “red-light running crashes” decreased 42% in the same period.
Which side of the red-light camera debate is correct depends on whom you ask: a Palm Beach Auto Accident Attorney, the city, or even the local AAA. Tampa AAA’s vice president, Kevin Bakewell, thinks money is the determining factor. “It’s more about the money than it is traffic safety,” said Mr. Bakewell. In fact, there is a new law taking effect July 1 that will increase the red-light camera fine from $125 to $158, with $70 of each $100 going to the state of Florida; the local government splits the rest with the camera vendors.
While the city of Palm Beach says that not enough time has passed to draw a proper conclusion on the effect and consequences of the red-light cameras. City spokesman Peter Robbins is quoted as saying: “A larger sample size is needed to make any determinations about the program’s effect on accidents.” The city however does not dispute the data gathered by The Post.
West Palm Beach is the first city in Palm Beach County to issue fines resulting from red-light cameras, but other Palm Beach County cities could be next. With preliminary plans to install seven more cameras, residents should be on good terms with their Palm Beach Auto Accident Attorney, given the increased rate of rear-end collisions. As for residents of West Palm Beach proper, the latest word is that there is no current plan to extend the number of red-light cameras beyond the original three.