Can Red Light Cameras Cut Car Insurance Rates?

Red light cameras have been touted by law enforcement agencies as a great tool for reducing traffic fatalities. The cameras take a picture of any car that is caught in the intersection after the light turns red. From the photo, law enforcement can track down the driver and mail them a hefty fine. Traffic officers believe that the cameras will cut down the number of people racing through red lights, which would cut down on the number of deadly side impact accidents.

Trading One Type of Accident for Another

In practice, however, the cameras seem to merely trade side impact collisions for rear impact collisions. As people approach the intersection with the camera installed, they tend to slam on their brakes as soon as they realize the light is changing. In many cases, this quick stop will lead to a crunch because the driver in the car following the braking vehicle doesn’t have enough time to adjust to the quick stop. It is true that rear impact collisions are far less dangerous than side impact collisions, but they still cause someone to need to file a claim with the car insurance company.

Claims Have Not Been Reduced

Typical numbers from areas that use red light cameras show that the number of fatalities has decreased somewhat, but the number of accidents has remained steady. In fact, there are some areas where the fatality rates actually increased due to the unpredictable behavior of drivers as they approached these intersections. Since the number of accident claims hasn’t changed, there is no reason for car insurance companies to offer reduced rates for people who live in areas with the cameras. If the cameras can be directly related to increased accident rates, there is even a chance that car insurance premiums for people in these neighborhoods will go up based on their increased risk of filing a claim.

No Specific Red Light Camera Discounts

Drivers in Florida have petitioned their car insurance companies for a special discount related to red light cameras. Car insurance companies typically offer discounts for drivers who find ways to decrease their risk of being involved in an accident, and the Florida drivers point to the cameras as accident deterrents. Local insurance company representatives have been resistant to the idea of creating a red light camera discount because they feel it would be redundant and unnecessary. Statistics have not supported claims that the cameras make intersections safer or reduce the number of insurance claims from residents who drive in the areas with cameras.

Rates Related to Claim Frequency

Insurance rates are based in part on the overall safety of any geographical area. The companies examine accident rates and the severity of injuries in an average accident in a particular zip code, and they put together premiums based on a driver’s risk of being involved in an accident. If the cameras do reduce accidents, then the insurance rates for drivers in the districts with cameras would drop automatically as their intersections became safer. There is no need to create a new discount to cover dropping rates that could be attributed to the red light cameras in local intersections.

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