Case Western study shows traffic cameras don't improve driver safety

Case Western study shows traffic camera don't improve driver safety
Published: Jul. 31, 2018 at 6:45 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 1, 2018 at 3:26 AM EDT
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NORTHEAST OHIO (WOIO) - They are widely detested. And if you've ever gotten a surprise citation in the mail, you know why.

Traffic cameras are touted by cities as ways to increase safety on the road and criticized by drivers as an easy way for cities to grab cash from unsuspecting drivers.

There is a good deal of confusion over red light and speed cameras, so let's clear it up:

They are legal in Ohio, except in Cleveland and Cincinnati.

So in other places, like Newburgh Heights or Linndale, they can simply hang them up on a pole and distribute citations. All you have to do in Newburgh Heights is look around.

The Village has a brand new fire station with up-to-date equipment, a new police department and city hall complex, and a healthy pay raise for Mayor Trevor Elkins--all of which came after the installation of the speed cameras.

Economist Justin Gallagher at Case Western Reserve University says the resentment over cameras is understandable, but in some ways, misguided.

People tend to jump right to the cameras as a money grab and ignore the claim that they are about safety. He analyzed thousands of accidents at intersections where stop sign or red light cameras were placed and found "there's absolutely no evidence that the camera programs improves traffic safety, either on the numbers or on accidents that involve injury."

Gallagher says the number of accidents overall is up when you compare accidents caused by quick stops or people who see the signs and slam on the brakes, to accidents avoided by improved driver behavior.

In 2015, more than 35,000 people died and 2.4 million were injured nationally in car crashes.

Parma, Parma Heights, East Cleveland and Walton Hills are just a few local cities who still utilize the cameras.

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