Red Light Readjustment

A new Baker Institute study, "Report on the Effects of Houston-area Red Light Monitoring Cameras," suggests that two red light cameras at a traffic intersection are more effective than only one camera.

"Our data shows the installation of a second camera reduces collisions not only at the approaches with cameras, but also reduces collisions at approaches without a red light camera," said Robert M. Stein, Baker Institute fellow in urban politics and the Lena Gohlman Fox Professor of Political Science at Rice University, who co-authored the study with Rice graduate students Matthew Loftis and Aleksander Ksiazkiewicz. The "spillover effect" is attributed to the placement of the second camera, which is adjacent to approaches with existing cameras. This effectively targets side-impact collisions -- the type of collision most frequently caused by running a red light.

The study, which was funded by Rice University, used data collected in Houston from 2003 through 2009 by the Texas Department of Transportation. Like the authors of a Texas Transportation Institute report released earlier this month, Stein and his co-authors conclude that red light cameras in Houston reduce intersection collisions.

More specifically, Houston's red light camera program was responsible for a reduction in traffic accidents of approximately 35 percent between September 2006 and December 2009, the study suggests. "The program works," Stein said.