Red light cameras have swept the nation. Chances are, if you don’t live in a city or town that uses them, you’ve at the very least driven through somewhere that did. They help prevent people from running red lights, and despite some opponents’ opinions that they are only installed to make the municipalities money, they’re generally not harmful. However, there is a counterpoint, and that is that with people scrambling to stop for the red light before they get photographed blowing through the intersection, more rear-end collisions happen.

Are There Really More Accidents?

One thing to consider when you hear about studies regarding more rear-ending collisions is the rate of rear-endings prior to the cameras’ installation. Some intersections are more dangerous on their own, and the addition of red light cameras may not actually be increasing the number of accidents, but merely shedding light on them. Another thing to consider is that even if there is an accident at an intersection, it’s very difficult to tell if the camera was what caused it—perhaps the person who rear-ended the car in front of them was looking at his or her phone, or otherwise not paying attention to the flow of traffic.

Do Red Light Cameras Make Intersections Safer, Though?

If you can’t pinpoint whether the cameras are causing an uptick in accidents, can you at least find out if they are making intersections safer? Experts say that it’s meaningless to study the crashes that do happen, and to instead focus on the overall safety of an intersection. If an intersection has a lot of run red lights and the red light cameras deter people from going through the intersection on a changing light, the overall rate of accidents may go down. People will still run red lights from time to time, but if the threat of a ticket for a few hundred dollars is hanging on their decision, they may feel more compelled to wait it out instead of paying a fine.

What to Do If You Get Rear Ended

If someone rear-ends you after you’ve stopped at a red light, the accident is typically considered their fault, and you should proceed accordingly. While the excuse or explanation of “the person in front of me stopped” is common, it’s not valid. If someone hits you, exchange information, and consider contacting a car accident lawyer for help—especially if the other involved party did not have insurance.