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Financial Benefits of Traffic Light Cameras

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Traffic cameras are utilized by various local governments around the world to catch traffic offenders who break traffic laws.

How to make traffic cameras profitable

Although studies have shown positive evidence towards the effectiveness in red light cameras in increasing safety, many community members remain unconvinced. In fact, public opinion about traffic cameras ranges from privacy concerns to accusations of the service being used for profits rather than for safety. However, local governments do need to ensure that using traffic light cameras is a profitable operation, or that they at least break even. Otherwise, taxpayer dollars are being used rather wastefully.

Studies prove that red light cameras increase safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a U.S. non-profit publication, publishes many studies, which show that traffic cameras have beneficial effects on road safety. In fact, one study from 2013 proved that red light cameras do reduce red light running, but most importantly, they reduce the most dangerous violations. The study focused on the city of Arlington, VA, whose intersections are equipped with cameras. The red light running decreases were significantly large for the most dangerous violations, which are those happening 1.5 seconds or longer after the light turns red.
Traffic cameras offer many benefits to society including public safety issues such as reducing traffic-related car accidents. However, speed limit enforcement cameras also offer financial incentives to local governments, and private companies who sell and distribute the devices, and necessary hardware and software.

How to increase revenue from red light cameras

  • Decrease yellow light times

One way for local governments to increase revenues from red light camera tickets is to shorten time of the yellow light. Research has shown that red light running decrease as yellow light times are lengthened. Thus, this equation can be reversed to find that by shortening the yellow light time, the red light running will increase. However, it is important to follow local laws when decreasing yellow light times. Failure to do so could result in negative publicity for local governments. Take for example the case of Atlanta, Georgia, whose intersection cameras were found to violate a state law, which actually required all yellow light times be increased by a second. Unfortunately, Atlanta was trying to increase their revenues from red light cameras without taking the local laws into account.

  • Ticket rolling right turns on red

Montebello, a city in the county of Los Angeles, California, generates $90,000 worth of tickets per month from only three intersections, according to the Los Angeles Times. This is four times better than most cities; many of which can barely cover operating costs of intersection cameras.

Redflex Traffic Systems, one company that supplies intersection cameras, worked with the city of Walnut to make a financial plan on the number of violations needed per month to make the traffic camera operation profitable. According to the plan, ticketing rolling right turns on red was needed in order to achieve profitability.

As you can see, if your city is thinking of instituting traffic cameras, there are ways to ensure that at least a minimum return is made on the initial investment. Even better, you will increase safety in your community by using this rapidly advancing technology.

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