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Do red light cameras really prevent crashes? Vehicle safety group says yes

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At least 10 red light cameras will be installed in Honolulu by the beginning of next year — but are they really effective at preventing crashes?

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the answer is yes. The group found that cameras have reduced fatal red light crashes by 21% in the U.S.

But red light cameras can receive pushback — especially when they’re placed in low-income communities.

Jessica Cocchino, the institute’s vice president of research, says the best practice is to have reasonable fines and easily accessible payment structures.

"Another thing that we want to keep in mind is that red light cameras should be put in places where we have the biggest problem. And so, if they are in places where people are economically disadvantaged, it also speaks to there being a bigger problem in those areas as well. And so ultimately we want to be saving people's lives, even if we're using enforcement to try to get that done," Cocchino said.

Traffic light cameras will be installed at 10 intersections in Honolulu. The selected 14 possible intersections have a history of crashes related to running red lights.

A sensor in the roadway will communicate with the lights. If drivers pass the stop line while the light is red, the system will capture an image of the vehicle's license plate.

Information will be sent to the Honolulu Police Department. If the officer is satisfied that the burden is met, then the registered owner of the vehicle will be issued a citation.

The first two red-light cameras are currently being installed on Vineyard Boulevard at Palama and Liliha streets. All 10 cameras are expected to be installed by early February.

Once a camera is installed, vehicle owners will only receive a warning during an initial 30-day grace period.

For more information on Honolulu’s red light cameras, visit their website.

Zoe Dym is a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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