TAMPA BAY, Florida - The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released a report this week suggesting there's new data proving red light cameras (RLC) save lives and that cities that remove the cameras have higher intersection fatality rates.
But 10Investigates examined the report from the pro-camera industry group and found there may have been significant cherry-picking of the data. The study's author also wrote of the study's "limitations," which could significantly affect the results.
The IIHS report claims red light running fatality rates and overall fatality rates went up 30 percent and 16 percent, respectively, per capita in cities that ended their RLC programs prior to July 2014.
However, the report provided to 10Investigates did not have any raw city-by-city data for verification purposes. And it only analyzed fatalities, rather than all crashes, even though some studies have indicated cameras may increase the number of minor "rear-ender" kind of crashes.
Last year, 10Investigates found there was no increase in crashes in St. Petersburg a year after it removed its red light cameras. It also showed the huge impact yellow light times have on red light running, although that was not taken into account in the IIHS study.
The IIHS, which has long supported RLC, also seems to have excluded fatalities that didn't take place in the middle of an intersection. But it did include hundreds of fatalities that were not related to red light running.
The report concluded the cameras helped reduce other kinds of crashes too, which is often known as the "halo effect."
But St. Petersburg statistics analyst Matt Florell, an ardent camera critic, disagreed and said the report was "very light on details and heavy on assumptions."
"In reviewing (the report), along with IIHS data I've reviewed in past, (it seems) they’re cherry-picking data and not showing you the whole picture," said Florell, who has previously discredited IIHS studies. "They’re showing you what they’ve always wanted to show: the benefits of red light cameras."