It's widely accepted that automated photo enforcement programs targeting speeding help reduce collisions and promote safe driving.
Now a new University of British Columbia study suggests they can also significantly reduce crime in the neighbourhoods in which they are deployed.
Researchers analyzed traffic-related data collected between 2013 and 2015 in the western Canadian city of Edmonton and found that vehicle collisions dropped in the areas where automated speed enforcement units were used.
But they also found that crime - specifically property-related criminal incidents - declined significantly.
"Our results prove that automated speed enforcement, which uses cameras to detect and capture images of vehicles exceeding the speed limit, reduces collisions as well as discourages crime," said Shewkar Ibrahim, a traffic safety engineer for the City of Edmonton who led the research for her PhD studies in civil engineering at UBC.
"People intending to commit crime are usually deterred by the presence of authority," said Ibrahim.