Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Red Light Cameras – Can They Help Prevent Big Rig Accidents?
Red light cameras (RLC’s) are used in many intersections. The purpose of the device is to apprehend drivers who disregard traffic signals and create dangerous driving situations. These cameras indicate that some big rig accidents occur at intersections by trucks that run red lights. Of course, it is not surprising that the involved truck drivers argue against the use of such red light cameras and believe they are unfairly used against them.
Lawyers who help clients injured in big rig accidents see cases involving this specific concern. They work diligently to determine if the truck driver involved in this type of intersection accident was at fault. There are two distinct opinions about the safety issues that the commercial trucking industry faces.
Red Light Accident Statistics
In 2003, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) documented crashes caused by passenger vehicles and big trucks running red lights that caused as many as 2,000 fatalities and over 175,000 injuries.1 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has also reported that vehicles running red lights at intersections caused an average of 751 people, or two people per day, dying each year from 2007 to 2011.2 A more widespread use of red light cameras in many communities during this time period may give a partial reason for such a drastic reduction in fatalities.
Concerns About Red Light Cameras
The above referenced statistics are not completely black and white. Due to numerous complaints about study and data collection as well as result interpretation methods, most studies on safety effectiveness of red light cameras has been deemed inconclusive. More recent studies have attempted to prove that RLC’s actually increase the number of red light-related accidents, rather than decrease them. Numerous communities that previously used RLC’s have discontinued such use. According to their information, the revenue generated from citations issued to drivers who ran red lights that were recorded on cameras did not offset the cost of program implementation and maintenance. This basic criticism of RLC’s is that they generate more income than safety.
Red Light Cameras and Big Rigs
The trucking industry generally tends to agree with this concept and believe that RLC’s are unfair to many truck drivers. They argue that a loaded truck weighing as much as 80,000 pounds cannot possibly stop when a red light changes just before entering an intersection. They maintain that a driver’s safest recourse is to keep going. Many drivers are cited after being photographed driving through red lights; the resulting consequences affect driver records and a company’s safety ratings. Yet running red lights still causes truck accidents.
Ongoing Debate on Red Light Cameras
There is a current bill to ban red light cameras nationwide. This bill was created because less than half of the states permit red light cameras, and as many as nine states already ban them completely. Although trucking safety organizations support the use of these cameras, a large percentage of drivers are against their use. Truck drivers firmly insist that RLC’s only increase the number of big rig accidents that happen when a big rig driver stops suddenly to avoid going through a red light and are then rear-ended by a following vehicle. Both sides of the debate have valid points.
Lawyers who handle big rig accidents agree that more research is needed on the effectiveness of such cameras to prevent big rig accidents. The debate between safety experts and commercial truck drivers over the use of red light cameras will not be concluded in the near future. Until a more definitive resolution of this controversy is made, those involved in red light truck accidents should discuss their case with experienced big rig accident lawyers. They can help victims determine fault and seek a fair and reasonable settlement for their injuries!
Hildebrand & Wilson, Attorneys at Law
7930 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
1American Trucking Association Safety Task Force Report, Executive Summary 2009
2American Traffic Solutions Report, Red-Light Running Dangers in the United States, 2013