TAMPA, Florida - Recent traffic statistics show fewer Floridians are dying because of red light-running, but opposite sides of the red light camera debate are fighting over how to interpret the stats.
American Traffic Solutions, the leading provider of red light cameras (RLCs) in the state, distributed a press release Monday touting a 27 percent drop in fatalities caused by red light-runners from 2011 to 2012, according to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA).
"Red light safety cameras make roads safer by changing driver behavior," American Traffic Solutions spokesperson Charles Territo said in the release, adding that the national average for red light-running fatalities was only a 5 percent decline.
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However, the large drop from 83 red light-related fatalities in 2011 to 61 fatalities in 2012 may be related to an unusual spike in 2011.
In 2010, the year Florida passed its red light camera law, there were only 63 red light-related fatalities. And the previous year, there were only 62 fatalities.
Red light camera opponents say the data shows that the technology has no positive impact on Florida's roads and the RLC companies are cherry-picking from small sample sizes.
"As I've documented using DOT crash data, there was a 35.8 percent increase in fatal RLV crashes (in Florida) from 2010 to 2011, the first full year of the camera scheme," said former state trooper and anti-camera activist Paul Henry in an e-mail. "For some reason, ATS didn't put out a news release on that one."
ATS also posted a video of Florida's worst red light-runners of 2013.
"These videos are provided with the hope that the crashes will help show just how dangerous red-light running is and just how violent a red-light running collision can be and serving as a reminder to drivers to always obey the law and most importantly stop on red," Territo said in the release. "Since the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act passed in July 2010, the number of average violations issued per camera per month has fallen by 40 percent. Every prevented crash protects a life from death or injury and reduces economic costs for the community."
Henry responded that "the video is some of the best evidence that the camera scheme does not ...(prevent) crashes caused by inattentive and/or impaired drivers."
The 10 News Investigators recently fact-checked red light camera safety claims and found that most claims don't have enough data to verify. Nationally, crash and fatality rates have been dropping over the last decade.
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