As personal injury lawyers we pay close attention to trends in traffic safety. We give a lot of thought to whether certain measures actually make drivers safer, and we give a lot of thought to how the use of certain technologies might impact our cases or allow us to help our clients.
Certainly, we’d be interested in any measure which lowers the incident rate of drivers running red lights in New York City.
Reports indicate that the incident rate of drivers running red lights in New York City is on the rise. Advocates are using these statistics to call for the presence of more red-light cameras in the hopes of solving this problem.
Currently, there are 223 red light cameras operating at 150 intersections in NYC. State law restricts them to school zones.
Some studies suggest that red light cameras have any power to reduce the total number of vehicle accidents, the total number of individuals injured in accidents, or the total number of incapacitating injuries which involve ambulance transport to a hospital.
Yet there is contradictory data, with the CDC reporting that when red light cameras are paired with signs warning drivers that red light cameras are present, then there is usually a decrease in overall crashes and a decrease in injury crashes. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety claims they’ve lowered violations by approximately 40% and accidents by approximately 25%.
So, the data isn’t conclusive. The most we can probably say about them is they probably don’t hurt and might help.
Who runs red lights?
Drivers who run red lights are most likely to be:
- Have prior crashes or DUI convictions
- Speeding at the time of the crash, or have a prior history of speeding
- Individuals who do not have a valid driver’s license
Many red-light runners are under the influence, which means they’re not necessarily paying attention to cameras or signs.
In addition, unsafe drivers might be the most likely to purchase products that help them avoid red light cameras, such as “Photo-Blocker,” which is an aerosol spray that’s supposed to produce a glossy coating on license plates in order to prevent red light cameras from capturing the license plate number.
There’s even some overlap between the types of drivers who are likely to run red lights and the types of drivers who are likely to engage in hit and run accidents.
Do red light cameras help in personal injury cases?
If you move fast, then it may be possible for your lawyer to secure evidence captured by red light cameras. Most red-light cameras record feeds for 30 days at a time. If you wait too long the evidence will be gone.
We must usually request the information from vendors.
Note that red light cameras don’t always capture the accident from a useful angle or record enough information to prove the other driver was at fault for the injury. That’s why we usually try to locate other video evidence when we start to work on your case, such as footage from video cameras attached to local businesses. Sometimes, we’ve even pulled useful footage off of ATM cameras.
How do red light cameras work?
To understand why red-light cameras may be of limited use in your case, it’s important to understand how they work. They do not record data on a continuous basis. Instead, they run on an induction loop trigger that’s located under the street, at the stop line.
When a vehicle moves past the stop line it crosses the detection zone. If the light is red and the driver exceeds a certain speed while crossing the line, the camera is triggered, and a few seconds of footage are taken. If I driver eases a few impatient feet over the line it won’t trigger.
If the light is green, or yellow, the camera won’t capture any footage at all.
What violations do red light cameras capture?
Red light cameras capture:
- Cars that turn right without coming to a complete stop
- Illegal right-hand turns
- Turning left on a red light
- Running straight through the red light
- Blocked intersections
If there was some other cause for your car accident then the red-light camera probably didn’t capture any data at all, and your personal injury attorney will have to look for other sources of evidence.
What should you do if you are involved in a serious accident with a driver who runs a red light?
Get medical attention, take pictures, gather information at the scene, and contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as you are lucid enough to do so. The longer you wait the fewer resources we’ll have for investigating and defending your case.
Have you been involved in an accident serious enough to exceed New York’s personal injury threshold? If so, you need help from experienced personal injury attorneys. Reach out to our office to schedule a case review today.