[Skip to content]

Search our Site
18 July 2012

Cost-benefit analysis of red light cameras in US cities and towns

First published18/07/2012
American Traffic Solutions (ATS) has commissioned a cost-benefit analysis the results of which it claims show the direct economic savings to communities that result from using red-light safety cameras at dangerous intersections. The analysis was carried out by John Dunham and Associates, an economic research firm specialising in economic and fiscal impact studies.

The savings are realised by the decrease in crashes and the ability to redeploy police officers from monitoring dangerous intersections to other crime-fighting efforts.

The study applied a conservative approach, using only the most basic factors for costs and savings. The researchers calculated the estimated cost savings to a community from the deployment of one red-light safety camera at one busy intersection in 25,000 cities and towns in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. To direct attention on the savings realised from reduced crash numbers, revenues resulting from citations paid by red-light runners were not factored into the study’s calculations.

City-specific savings, along with a detailed explanation of the methodology used, can be reviewed here. Calculations were estimated over a five-year period.

According to John Dunham and Associates, whose researchers conducted the analysis, a reduction in the number of traffic crashes translates into a direct savings for the community. Red-light safety cameras help reduce crashes, as documented by multiple studies cited in Dunham’s analysis. By reducing crashes, the cameras contribute an economic benefit to the community.

“The measurable costs of crashes, which have been calculated by the US Department of Transportation, are immense and impact everyone. These costs include medical, emergency services, property damage, lost productivity, the monetised value of pain and suffering, lost quality of life, travel delays, insurance administration and legal and court costs,” said John Dunham, managing partner of the firm.

The savings varied from city to city due to the variety of factors that were included in the methodology. For instance, the analysis shows a savings in Hazelwood, Missouri, of $163,036 from one red-light safety camera in the first year of operation and a cumulative savings of $728,952 over five years. In St. Petersburg, Florida, the savings in the first year is $187,440 and $846,849 over five years. In Linden, New Jersey, the savings are $289,184 in the first year and more than $1.3 million over five years.

“It’s indisputable that there is a cost associated with automobile crashes,” said James Tuton, president and CEO of ATS. “This study finally provides us with the measurable economic benefits a city can realise by using even one red-light safety camera to decrease crashes in their community. However, the greatest benefit any community can achieve through road safety camera programmes is saving people’s lives.”

Companies in this article

American Traffic Solutions
US Department of Transportation
Page Comments