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Traffic cameras fail to reduce accidents in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Since their installation in December 2007, red-light cameras in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA, have failed to decrease the number of collisions at the locations where they are deployed. The UK-owned firm, LaserCraft, operates the automated ticketing machines at six city intersections, splitting the revenue generated with the city. Officials say the primary objectives of the program are to decrease the number of accidents, injuries and fatalities caused by speeding and red light running.

Instead of a decrease, the total number of accidents at these locations has increased by 6% from 143 to 152, according to the city’s own data. At most of the locations, there was little or no change in accident frequency following the installation of cameras. The only significant change was seen at one installation where 10 accidents in 2007 jumped 60% to 16 in 2008. A report issued by the Tennessee Center for Policy Research (TCPR) in found no demonstrable benefit to camera use after a preliminary review of accident data from a number of cities, including Chattanooga.

However, the report cited a note of caution when reviewing such accident reports, stating “There are so many variables, such as weather, day of the week, traffic flow and construction projects, that it is extremely difficult to extract the true effect of red light cameras without removing the effect of those variables.” The TCPR suggested that, as photo enforcement has failed to prove effective, a far better alternative to the use of cameras would be to lengthen the yellow intervals at intersections with a high number of accidents.
 

May 6, 2009

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