Interactive Maps and Traffic Enforcement Cameras Can Improve Pedestrian Safety

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Lowering the speed limit helps save lives, too.

One might ask: What is the true purpose of automated traffic camera enforcement? Are they actually used in attempt to reduce the number of people running red lights? Or, is it a simple ploy for the city to make more money? Are there tools to avoid potentially dangerous intersections?

According to American Traffic Solutions , reducing traffic crashes is always a necessity for our cities to stand behind. Overall, the number of accidents in the last few years has slowly decreased, though the cost paid by society has actually risen. From 2005 to 2013, the community’s cost of an injury crash has had an exponential 97.8 percent increase—rising from $68,170 in 2005 to $134,843 in 2013.

In fact, the ones injured by red-light runners are most commonly pedestrians, and other motorists who were actually abiding by traffic signals. Unfortunately, one in three people claim they know someone who was seriously harmed, or killed in a red-light related incident.

The controversy related to the effectiveness of intersection cameras, and their true purpose is still debated among many. In cities such as Chicago, motorists are running into even more of a challenge—at what point should a vehicle crossing an intersection be considered a red-light runner?

The city has begun ticketing individuals who cross intersections when the light is yellow, fractions of a second before the light is actually red. Although fractions of a second seem insignificant, it has allowed the city to issue an additional 77,000 tickets , each with a fine of $100.

There are ways around avoiding these potentially dangerous intersections, where one might encounter the typical red-light runner. Of course, you can completely disregard these areas, and take an alternate route to your home or work.

Some cities, such as New York City, have mandated other regulations, besides installing intersection cameras. Recently, the city issued a city-wide speed limit reduction , to 25 mph to areas where a current speed limit is not posted. Although not all may follow the 10 mph reduction, the city has seen a drastic reduction in the number of accidents over the course of the last few months.

There are other tools designed to combat dangerous intersections, and assist motorists with making practical decisions on areas to avoid. With New York City’s speed-limit reduction, a local firm has created an interactive traffic safety map.

The map, WalkSaferNYC highlights dangerous intersections, and allows users to view occurrences based on accident type, time of day, and much more.

Automated traffic enforcement cameras can only do so much to raise awareness after crossing the intersection has occurred, and a ticket is issued. Other cities have jumped aboard, and are taking a stance to outline areas of town that might pose a threat to motorists. SigAlert has created maps for some of the most populated cities, by state, with hopes to help motorists avoid congested areas or construction zones.

Be sure to check out the various traffic maps that are available in your city. With the proper tools and maps, we can help reduce the number of fatal intersection accidents, and drive through safer streets, nationwide.

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Donna Fitzgerald is a U.S. Postal Service employee, safety advocate and mother of two teenage daughters who based in North Carolina.

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