A new report could put speed cameras on the fast track. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) believes that if the nation had a speed camera program like Montgomery County, Maryland, 21,000 deaths or serious injuries could be prevented every year, reports CBS News correspondent Kris Van Cleave.
Traffic deaths have been decreasing nationwide, but this reports estimates Montgomery County cameras have saved between 400-500 lives since 2007. As of last month, only 138 communities in the U.S. use the cameras.
More than 355,000 times in the last year, speeders in the Maryland county were caught by one of the its 92 speed cameras, but what got the attention of the IIHS was what the cameras didn't see: a 59 percent decrease in the likelihood of a driver breaking the speed limit by 10 mph or more, compared to nearby communities in Virginia without cameras.
"These are 25- and 30-mile-an-hour roads where children walk to and from school that we can prevent deaths and serious injuries on those roads," IIHS president Adrian Lund said.
The new report credits the cameras with a 19 percent drop in the likelihood a crash would result in a death or serious injury. It praised the D.C. suburb's use of special speed camera corridors with multiple mobile cameras along the same stretch of road. Because those cameras move, police believe it lowers speed along the entire corridor and further reduced the likelihood of a deadly or serious injury crash.
"If you have sustained, saturated enforcement, consistently over time, it will effectively change behavior. Random enforcement doesn't do anything but just issue tickets," Montgomery County Police Capt. Thomas Didone said.
While he oversees the program, cutting speeding is also a personal mission.
His son, Ryan, was killed in an accident blamed on excessive speed.
"I go out to many, many collisions that we have fatalities at, and I can see our numbers have gone down," Didone said. "Now we still have collisions, but people aren't dying. And the fact that speeding has been reduced is the primary factor for why they're alive today."
But nationally speed cameras have an image problem.
A 2014, AAA found only 42 percent of respondents supported their use in residential areas.
"Despite the great traffic safety news and the safety paradigm, motorists for the most part are still skeptical about these programs," AAA's John Townsend said. "They think that it's really about revenue in the name of traffic safety."
Since 2007, the speed camera program in Montgomery County has brought in $123 million in revenue, a portion of which pays for the program.
While police say driving speeds around the speed cameras dropped by 40 to 60 percent, 10 states this year have proposed restricting or prohibiting automated enforcement.
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