Houston's red light camera report released

December 30, 2008 5:13:15 AM PST
It seems like we're hearing a lot of information lately about red light cameras and whether they really do keep you safer on the road and reduce accidents. A report released Monday afternoon by the city of Houston says they do. [FULL REPORT: Read the full report on Houston's red light cameras and their effectiveness]

When it comes to the much talked-about red light cameras, it seems everyone has an opinion.

"I think it's fine," said one person we spoke with. "People do tend to run a lot of red lights, especially around here, so I think it's a good thing."

"I think they're an intrusion of privacy," countered another resident. "They need to be taken down and another measure should be enforced."

But all sides have been waiting for some definitive answers from the city's red light camera study. It was finally released Monday. The number of crashes at intersections with red light cameras have basically remained unchanged. However, intersections with no cameras have gone up dramatically in the last few years.

Rice University Professor Bob Stein supervised the study.

"What we suspect happened is that collisions have suddenly increased in the city and all that the red light camera program has done is, at those intersections at those approaches that were cameraed, it simply stopped or slowed the growth," he said.

Stein says researchers believe crashes in the city have increased as population has grown and the cameras have been an effective tool at controlling the number of crashes.

"Critics should just read the report and if they doubt the veracity of the report, they should take the data and analyze it themselves," he said.

But an attorney who has filed suit against the city says he doesn't put any weight in the study released Monday.

"It's going to be a biased report," said Attorney Paul Kubosh. "If it's not biased, then it has the stench of biasness on it."

Kubosh says the report is bias is because Professor Stein's wife works for the city. Professor Stein says it had no effect on the study, especially because it was the students who actually led it.

A different study ordered by the Texas Department of Transportation concluded the same thing as Houston's study, that red light cameras are effective in reducing accidents. The study was released earlier this month. Overall, it found a 30 percent decrease in crashes in intersections with red light cameras. Side impact crashes, or right-angle collisions dropped 43 percent, while rear end accidents were up slightly, up by five percent.

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