A new partnership headed up by the former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is seeking to boost roadway safety in part by promoting the installation of more so-called “red light” cameras at traffic intersections.

The Partnership for Advancing Road Safety (PARS), headed by David Kelly, NHTSA’s former acting administrator and chief of staff, said a variety of government traffic safety data indicates that automated road safety cameras could prevent crashes and debilitating injuries in the U.S.

“These technologies not only save lives, but they shift the cost of enforcement from the taxpayer to the violator and save millions of dollars in health care costs and property damage caused by red light runners, speeders and distracted drivers,” he stated in a speech at the Lifesavers 2010 conference being held in Philadelphia this week.

"While a vocal minority may oppose road safety cameras, national, local and regional opinion polls including recent PARS research indicates just the opposite,” Kelly added. “A recent national opinion poll shows that 80% of Americans support intersection safety cameras and 67% support speed safety cameras. [These camera] save lives. And that’s the message PARS intends to communicate to everyone we can reach."

He pointed out that of the 37,261 fatalities on U.S. roadways in 2008, 31% were speeding-related, according to Department of Transportation (DOT) data. In addition, the NHTSA estimates that the economic cost of speed-related crashes is more than $40 billion each year and that speeding now causes as many fatalities as drunk or distracted drivers.

DOT figures also indicate 40% of all pedestrian deaths involving vehicles other than large trucks happen at intersections, with 51% of fatal pedestrian crashes involving large trucks also occur at intersections.

Further, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 762 people were killed and an estimated 137,000 were injured in crashes that involved red-light running in 2008. About half of the deaths in red-light running crashes are pedestrians and occupants in other vehicles who are hit by red-light runners, IIHS reports.

“These numbers are staggering and demonstrate the need to move forward with new strategies that save lives,” Kelly said.

The founding PARS members are American Traffic Solutions (ATS), headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona; LaserCraft, headquartered in Norcross, Georgia; Redflex Traffic Systems, headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona; and Traffipax, headquartered in Columbia, Maryland – companies accounting for more than 90% of the 5,000 intersection and road safety cameras installed in the U.S. PARS membership, however, is open to municipalities, government officials, public and private organizations, as well as individual citizens.