Back in 2001, the IIAS, Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, funded a report on the benefits of red-light cameras, commonly referred to as the Oxnard report (you can read the study here). It was the first study to claim red-light cameras decrease accidents, and it has since been cited by hundreds of cities as the reason for the adoption of their red-light camera systems. But some people questioned the validity of that study, and three researchers from the University of South Florida; Barbara Orban, Etienne Pracht and John T. Large; recently attempted to replicate the studies findings… and they discovered the numbers just didn’t add up.
“The regression analysis of Retting and Kyrychenko [the authors of the Oxnard study] does not support their conclusion that red light cameras reduced total or injury crashes,” the University of South Florida team wrote in the American Journal of Public Health last month.
This isn’t the first time the Oxnard study has been called into question. In 2004, Professor Mark Burkey from North Carolina A&T University published highly detailed, 60-page critique of the methodology used in the Oxnard report (read it here). The USF researchers verified Professor Burkey’s findings.
“The Oxnard red light camera study violates many basic principles of sound statistical public health research and lacks internal and external validity,” the Florida researchers concluded. “All red light camera investigations should be scrutinized for adherence to applied research methods since studies with greater adherence to quasi-experimental research designs have concluded red light cameras are associated with large increases in crashes and since special interest groups with a financial stake in red light camera use are actively working to influence public opinion and policy.”
It’s hard to pin down exactly how much money the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety made for it’s parent companies with the Oxnard study. A conservative estimate puts it easily in the millions, considering that the study is directly responsible for hundreds of cities installing red-light cameras, those cameras dramatically increased the number of speeding tickets given out, and speeding tickets add points to your license. All that means substantially higher insurance premiums; ill-gotten gains for the insurance industry. That one study had a devastating economic impact on the US so far, hopefully new research like the University of South Florida study and Professor Mark Burkey research will help reverse the damage done.
(via The Newspaper)