Chron reporter Carolyn Feibel, in response to the badgering of a persistent red light camera critic, did some research into their effectiveness, and blogged about what she found. Bottom line is that most of the studies she located indicated that red light cameras reduced serious accidents and total injuries, though there was often a smaller accompanying rise in rear-end collisions. There's plenty of links there, so go see for yourself. To answer Carolyn's question at the end, yes the city needs to fund its own study. In fact, they're required to provide a written report to TxDOT as specified by SB1119, authored by State Sen. John Carona (R, Dallas), which was the bill that granted cities the authority to assess civil penalties for red light violations caught by cameras and which was passed this session. From the bill:
Sec. 707.004. REPORT OF ACCIDENTS. (a) In this section, "department" means the Texas Department of Transportation.
(b) Before installing a photographic traffic signal enforcement system at an intersection approach, the local authority shall compile a written report of the number and type of traffic
accidents that have occurred at the intersection for a period of at least 18 months before the date of the report.
(c) Not later than six months after the date of the installation of the photographic traffic signal enforcement system at the intersection, the local authority shall provide the department a copy of the report required by Subsection (b).
(d) After installing a photographic traffic signal enforcement system at an intersection approach, the local authority shall monitor and annually report to the department the number and type of traffic accidents at the intersection to determine whether the system results in a reduction in accidents or a reduction in the severity of accidents.
(e) The report must be in writing in the form prescribed by the department.
(f) Not later than December 1 of each year, the department shall publish the information submitted by a local authority under Subsection (d).
And speaking of persistent red light camera critics, Kevin Whited left the following comment to that post:
Here's something also to consider -- if we have identified certain intersections as extremely dangerous (dangerous enough for the cams), wouldn't it make sense heavily to publicize the fact that those intersections are under surveillance?
The current signage is minimal. If an intersection is dangerous enough for cameras, I would think it would also be dangerous enough for maximum signage warning people that they will be ticketed for running a red light in that intersection, to raise awareness completely (after all, if it's ALL about safety, then we can't go far enough to deter/educate those evil red-light runners, even if it means fewer citations!). But so far, the city has resisted that approach....
(c) The municipality shall install signs along each roadway that leads to an intersection at which a photographic traffic monitoring system is in active use. The signs must be at least 100 feet from the intersection or located according to standards established in the manual adopted by the Texas Transportation Commission under Section 544.001, be easily readable to any operator approaching the intersection, and clearly indicate the presence of a photographic monitoring system that records violations that may result in the issuance of a notice of violation and the imposition of a monetary penalty.
(d) A municipality that fails to comply with Subsection (c) may not impose or attempt to impose a civil or administrative penalty against a person, including the owner of a motor vehicle or an operator, for a failure to comply with the instructions of a traffic-control signal located at the applicable intersection.
UPDATE: Changed some of the wording in the last paragraph for clarity.Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 27, 2007 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles