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Critics: ‘Total Nonsense’ To Credit Red-Light Cameras For Fewer Fatalities

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(credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

(credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — They’re popping up at more street corners every day, but as red-light cameras continue to expand rapidly in Los Angeles and across the nation, there’s little consensus over whether the controversial devices have made our intersections any safer.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a group funded by auto insurers that aims to reduce deaths, injuries and property damage caused by crashes on the nation’s roads, says red-light cameras saved 159 lives in 14 cities from 2004 to 2008, a drop of nearly 25 percent from a year ago.

Adrian Lund, president of IIHS, says if more cities with populations topping 200,000 had the “courage” to install the cameras, up to 815 deaths would have likely been prevented.

The study’s findings, however, were quickly challenged by critics who say the devices may actually do the opposite of their stated purpose.

Professor Mark L. Burkey, a researcher at North Carolina A&T State University who studied photo enforcement collision patterns for three years about these figures, tells KFWB’s Michael Shappee the results are anything but conclusive.

“There are about 700 additional deaths since cameras have proliferated, from 2001 on,” says Greg Mauz, a researcher for the Best Highway Safety Practices Institute. “The whole idea that cameras can prevent fatalities and crashes is total nonsense.”

Drivers around the Southland have met the initiative with mixed reactions.

Anaheim recently vetoed installing new camera programs, while Murrieta residents have voted to expand the use of red-light cameras.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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