U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations
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Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-05-048
Date: April 2005
Safety Evaluation of Red-Light Cameras
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The core study question to be answered is, "What effect does RLC programs have on intersection safety, as measured by changes in crashes?" The evaluation design presented later has this question as its primary focus. However, even this question requires some further clarification and expansion, in that RLC installations at selected intersections in a jurisdiction are often part of a larger "Reduce Red-Light-Running" campaign that is jurisdiction-wide. The overall program will include a public information component (whether planned or just as media coverage of this new enforcement technique) that can clearly have an effect on driving behavior at other intersections in the jurisdiction. Thus, the core question is immediately expanded to, "What are both the local effect of RLCs at treated intersections, and the 'spillover' effect at nearby intersections or jurisdiction-wide?" In addition, there are other program components or factors that might make such programs more beneficial in terms of crash reduction. Examples could include yellow interval or phasing changes done with camera installation, public information programs and signage related to RLC programs, and the issue of whether to ticket vehicle owners or vehicle drivers.
Because not every conceivable question can be answered in one evaluation, particularly a retrospective evaluation in which programs and data have been determined by the local agency rather than the evaluator, there was a need to clearly establish a list of key study questions to focus on (if the data would allow it). The FHWA established an internal project oversight panel to make these decisions. Forrest M. Council of BMI-SG and Bhagwant Persaud of Ryerson University, the project co-principal investigators, met with this panel in early January, 2002. Panel members attending that meeting included the following.
Michael Griffith, Chair, FHWA Office of Safety Research and Development
Pam Crenshaw, FHWA Office of Operations, Travel Management
Pat Hasson, FHWA Resource Center
Hari Kalla, FHWA Office of Safety, Safety Design
John McFadden, FHWA Resource Center
Joe Peters, ITS Joint Program Office
Amy Polk, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Greg Hatcher, Mitretek Systems, Inc.
Rob Maccubbin, Mitretek Systems, Inc.
The panel and project team discussed items such as issues related to the literature review (e.g., defining "critical studies," proposed study list, current progress, example detailed reviews), a listing of "lessons learned/issues raised" from the literature reviewed to date, preliminary thoughts on the experimental plan, etc. A major part of the discussion centered on the listing of study questions to be answered. At that initial meeting, the Chair and panel defined a draft listing of questions. This was revised slightly into the following final listing based on findings concerning available data and the range or spread of the data among the jurisdictions.