Traffic Accidents Problem Solution Essay Example

Greenlight. This is something we do countless times every single day. This can get incredibly frustrating and can cause accidents, road rage, and other unfortunate events. A driver running a red light can cause damage to other drivers, their passengers and even pedestrians on the street. However, the public opinion on red-light cameras is as heated of a debated as any. While there are several pro’s and con’s regarding the use of red-light cameras, they truly are not an effective measure to deter accidents in Colorado.

We all want ourselves and our loved ones to feel safe. Whether we are in our home, walking down the street, or driving in our vehicle. Nothing in this world would be worse than receiving a phone call notifying you that someone you love has been in an accident because another driver ran a red light. That is an everyday fear that every mother, father, husband, and wife has to face when they see their loved one drive away. In theory, the use of red-light cameras is a really good idea that would likely reduce vehicle and pedestrian accidents, as well as save the local police time on minor traffic violations so that they could work on more important issues and with an automated system more ticket violations will be handed out.

There is no way that a police officer is going to be able to hand out a ticket to each person that is running a red light at an intersection. Think of the time that is needed just to issue a single ticket to a driver running a red light. By the time the officer catches someone, pulls them over, goes over to collect the driver’s license and registration and then ultimately issues that driver a ticket an abundance of other drivers will have most likely ran that same red light. For the police officers themselves to catch as many drivers as the red light cameras there would need to be more than double the number of officers that there currently is.

That is where the idea of having an automated camera sit there and just take photos of driver after driver running the red light is absolutely genius. According to The Denver Post and Denver Police Department there were 27,483, tickets handed out in Denver during 2018 throughout the four red light camera stations (Murray, 2019) That is an astonishing 75 tickets every single day and over $2,000,000 worth of ticket fees. There were also over 72,000 violations captured by the cameras but for a citation to be issued the license plate must be identified with the driver’s picture clearly visible.

When looking at those numbers it is clear that the cameras are certainly effective at catching drivers who are running the red lights and according to national research has proven that cities that use red-light cameras have 21 percent fewer fatal red-light accidents. “The program acts as a force multiplier, allowing our police officers to be more safely and effectively deployed while still addressing traffic enforcement (Photo Radar & Red Light Ticket: Denver Police Department). If the cameras are able to catch more people breaking the law, save police officers time and keep all of the pedestrians and other drivers safe then they are an absolutely wonderful idea. As mentioned before the one thing that everyone can agree on is that we just want anyone that is driving in a car to make it home safe at the end of the day. Why would we not use any resource available to make sure that this happens?


Now what makes this debate really tough is the human factor. Humans and technology are very similar to oil and water. They simply do not mix. People will always gripe about conspiracy theories and “Big Brother” and will just never be okay with the fact that there is someone watching them. This is just the beginning of the problems that come from red-light cameras. Other problems that red-light cameras have is that no matter what people are still going to run red lights, the cost to implement them, the wrong person receiving a ticket and the

fact that the individual issued the ticket is less likely to pay the ticket. Have you ever run a red light? Probably, yes. Have I ever run a red light? Definitely, yes. The fact of the matter is that we have all done this. It is human nature for us to drive faster and try not to stop whenever we are running late. Whether there is a camera at a stoplight or not we are still going to run the light if we are really in a hurry. People will do anything to save time when they are in a hurry. They will skip a shower, skip brushing their teeth, or do something that doesn’t affect their basic hygiene as much like running a red light. Another problem with red-light cameras is that the cost to install them compared to the cost to employ a police officer is significantly higher. 

According to Virginia Sisiopiku, the implementation cost of a red-light camera is around $80,000 not including any maintenance cost that may be needed. System costs include the cost of the camera (approximately $50,000), in-pavement inductive loop detectors ($5K per leg), and costs associated with camera housings, poles, flash slaves, and wiring ($5,000 to $8,000).

This cost is more than “the $75,225 salary for a police officer with 2-4 years’ experience (Coen, 2019).” In addition to those issues is the fact that the ticket for running the red light is given to the owner of the vehicle and not necessarily the driver of the vehicle. With that being the case, it is very easy for an individual to get the ticket thrown out without having to pay. According to The Denver Post and Denver Police Department only 56% of the 27,483 red light camera tickets issued in 2018 were paid (Murray, 2019). The other 44% of the tickets ended up being canceled, dismissed or expired. “Under Colorado law, Ramirez said those who chose not to pay the fine sent in the mail for a red light camera or speed radar van violation have to be served by the city within 90 days or the ticket is invalid (Kovaleski, 2018).” If the option is there to run the red light without injury any other drivers or pedestrians and there is really no reason to actually pay the ticket from the red light camera then what is actually stopping drivers from running the red light? The answer is nothing. The cameras in all reality are truly not doing anything effective at reducing accidents.


In an apple to apple world, it would be easy to look directly at the data and say without a doubt that the red light cameras did help deter traffic accidents since the data shows that there are 21% fewer fatal red light accidents. However, this is not a black and white debate. There is no easy way to definitively say that they are effective or ineffective. Keeping drivers safe is the ultimate goal throughout this entire debate. So, even though the number of fatal red light accidents may be down the number of rear-end collisions and other traffic accidents in the intersection is actually up.

“Ft. Collins, Colorado has experienced an 83 percent increase in the number of accidents since red light cameras were installed (Red-Light Cameras Increase Accidents).” What there is though is the argument that no matter what kind of technology you use to try and stop people from running red lights it is still human beans driving the vehicle and when humans are involved accidents will still happen. Humans are not robots. They have emotions, deadlines and the ability to make choices. These choices are what truly cause accidents that occur at red lights. No number of red-light cameras are going to stop people from making bad choices. Especially when people know that the red-light the camera isn’t even something that they have to pay.

“Many drivers consider the operation a scam. Others said the cameras make dangerous intersections safer. Regardless, paying up can be avoided (Konopasek, 2017).” The fact that nearly half of the red-light tickets last year were unpaid is a clear sign that they are ineffective. People are still running red lights without any repercussions because they are aware that they don’t need to pay for the ticket. “The the disparity between the total possible violations captured and citations actually sent out is wide. In the case of Sixth and Lincoln, the former is more than twice the size of the latter (Roberts, 2018).”

Look at it this way. If someone is on their way to work to meet with a client that is going to pay them several thousand dollars but they are running late and they have been sitting at an intersection for three cycles of the light and right when they finally get to the front of the light turns red there is no doubt in anyone's mind that they are going to run that red light. It might not be the ethical thing to do and they might even end up receiving a ticket for this. But this is one of the several reasons people run red lights and no matter what type of red light enforcement is used this is something that people will continue to do. Until all cars are self-driving or driven by robots there is honestly not an effective way to deter accidents from happening. 


Hopefully, this essay has helped bring a stop to the red-light camera debate. The idea of using an automated system to help save lives sounds great in theory. But in practice, it is an ineffective method to deter traffic accidents. The fact of the matter is humans are still driving and will continue to run red lights no matter what. The implementation cost of the cameras is overpriced when compared to the cost of an actual real-life police officer. And with the tickets often going to someone not actually driving the vehicle it is very easy for the tickets to go unpaid which ultimately makes the cameras cost even more.

Ultimately the deciding factor in the argument of whether or not red light cameras are effective at deterring accidents in Colorado comes down to three things. One, are fewer accidents occurring. Two, are the cameras cost-effective. Three, are the tickets for the cameras effective. All three of those points fall under the side of the argument against cameras. They are reducing the number of fatal accidents however, the total number of accidents has not seen a reduction. The cost to implement a red light camera is significantly higher than that of hiring a police officer. And, the tickets that are sent out from the red light cameras mostly go unpaid. These three facts are what draws the final conclusion that red light cameras are officially not an effective way of deterring accidents in Colorado.



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