Health Policy researchers report red light cameras influence driver behavior—just not for the better

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“The fact is that red light cameras change driver behavior and cut down on the most dangerous types of accidents,” says St. Petersburg Mayoral candidate Rick Kriseman.

No so, according to investigators in the USF College of Public Health.


PolitiFact Florida, an entity that reviews political statements for accuracy, recently interviewed John Large, PhD, assistant professor, Barbara Orban, PhD, associate professor, and Etienne Pracht, PhD, associate professor, to address Kriseman’s claim.

“There’s a difference between a driver being more aware and a driver being more skittish,” said Etienne Pracht, a USF professor of health care economics.

According to the story, “Three USF researchers reviewed seven red light camera studies held up by the federal government as the best designed studies and found none concluded a statistical safety benefit from the cameras. They noted several government-funded studies actually stated injury or severe crashes increased with the cameras, according to their 2011 paper in Florida Public Health Review.

The professors, who became interested in the cameras years ago because a portion of the revenue goes to trauma center hospitals, pointed out in 2011 that red light cameras often have a “double effect” on motorists: They are put at higher risk for fines and rear-end crashes.

The researchers objected to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety California study and others for not using scientific research methods, and have faulted other research for not taking into account traffic trends, such as the fact that the state has been seeing a decrease in red light running, said Barbara Langland Orban, a USF health policy professor.

The professors agree that red light cameras influence driver behavior—just not for the better (though they had not seen studies of psychological effects of the cameras on drivers).”

Drs. John Large, Barbara Orban, and Etienne Pracht are researchers in the Department of Health Policy and Management.  The department offers more than 10 concentrations that lead to MHA, MPH, MSPH, and PhD degrees, including an online master of public health degree in public health administration. Additionally, the department offers several dual degrees, graduate certificates, and special programs.

Related story:

Rick Kriseman says red light cameras change driver behavior, reduce most dangerous crashes