The Phoenix Street Transportation Department has reviewed three years of driver and pedestrian crash data from the city’s red light intersections. As reported by KJZZ 91.5 in January 2020, the intersections where drivers most frequently run red lights include 43rd Avenue and Encanto, 21st Avenue and Glendale, and 27th Avenue and Adams.
Based on this information, city officials are reviewing proposals from red light camera enforcement companies in an attempt to reduce the number of accidents at these and other dangerous intersections. Although Phoenix already has red light cameras, they have been out of order since December 2019 in the absence of a provider contract.
The extent of the problem
Arizona has more accident fatalities in which a driver ran in red light per capita than any other state. Every year, an average of more than 1,500 accidents occur in Phoenix after a driver runs a red light, resulting in an average of nearly 90 serious personal injuries and fatalities. Speeding, distracted driving and aggressive driving are often significant factors in this type of collision. Phoenix has the most red-light-related fatalities in the state over a 10-year period according to data from AAA, followed by Tucson.
The argument against cameras
Several members of City Council oppose the red light camera program, expressing concerns about an increase in rear-end collisions when drivers slam on their brakes to keep from getting a ticket. Suggestions include better lighting at intersections to improve visibility. Several council members noted that the letters sent about camera tickets were in English only and difficult to understand. Despite these concerns, AAA reports that red light cameras can reduce crashes at these intersections by more than 20% in major cities.
The issue of whether to continue the red light camera program in Phoenix will remain open until March 31. In the meantime, council members will meet again to work on a comprehensive traffic safety plan for the city and help reduce the risk of serious injury.