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Study: Red-Light Cameras in Rochester Really Do Improve Safety

Around 41 million speeding tickets are issued every year, along with untold numbers of other types of moving violations, including running red lights and stop signs. City planners and traffic authorities have long wondered whether certain measures could reduce accidents and other such incidents — and in Rochester, one of those measures really seems to be working.

A study conducted by SRP Associates, which placed red-light cameras at the some of the biggest intersections in the city, has yielded positive results. According to the study, crashes at those intersection are down by nearly 21%, and crashes caused specifically by running a red light are down by more than 50%.

However, it is noted that the number of tickets being issued for red-light running has stabilized, remaining constant at 88,000 — although the number is down about 44% compared to the initial three-month period after the cameras were installed.

The study shows less notable declines than a report of a similar nature done in 2014, which documented an overall 26% drop in crashes, and a 78% decline in those accidents directly related to running red lights.

But, the earlier report drew on a much smaller number of accident reports, while the latest one extended its analysis all the way to 2007, looking at more than 6,000 accident reports. The city has argued that this makes direct comparisons between the study very difficult. Also, since neither study has looked at the intersections without cameras, it is hard to say whether or not the overall rate of crashes has changed.

However, the reduction in crashes at the monitored intersections is still significant and represents an estimated savings of $1.2 million in repairs, according to the report.

The Rochester red-light program was launched in October 2010, and includes 48 cameras at 32 intersections. Tickets for running red lights at these intersections carries a $50 fine, a portion of which goes to pay for the rental of the cameras.

In November 2014, the city voted to extend the program through 2019, after the report showed a significant drop in crashes.