Speed and Red Light Cameras

Red Light Camera

Automated enforcement uses cameras to capture images of drivers committing traffic violations – most commonly, speeding and red light running. Citations are mailed to the vehicle owner. Many state laws specify when, where and how automated enforcement may be carried out.

In 2019, 846 people were killed in crashes that involved red light running. Over half of those killed were pedestrians, bicyclists and people in other vehicles who were hit by the red light runners. That same year, an estimated 143,000 people were injured in red light running crashes (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).

GHSA Policy

Click here to view GHSA's Policy and Priorities on Automated Enforcement

In 2018, 9,378 people died in speeding-related crashes – 26% of all traffic fatalities (Traffic Safety Facts, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

Automated enforcement is intended to augment — not replace — traditional traffic enforcement activities and remind drivers there is always a risk of “getting caught” running a red light or speeding.

Red light and speed cameras are powerful tools to reduce crashes. Automated enforcement can address inequities present in traditional traffic enforcement, since cameras do not see race, nationality, gender or other unique characteristics. However, community engagement and careful consideration of where cameras are placed is critical to building support for automated enforcement programs. In May 2021, GHSA, AAA, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Safety Council released a new checklist that can serve as a roadmap for communities that are establishing or expanding automated enforcement programs.

Critics of speed and red light cameras argue they exist to make money for law enforcement agencies and/or the technology providers. However, the objective is to deter violators, not to catch them. Signs and publicity campaigns typically warn drivers that photo enforcement is in use. Revenue is generated from violator fines, but this is a fundamental component of all traffic enforcement programs. The goal of traffic enforcement is to increase motorist compliance with safety laws, which means when drivers no longer run red lights or speed, the revenue from automated enforcement cameras will decline.

GHSA supports the use of automated enforcement in addition to other proven countermeasures to enforce speeding, red light running and other traffic violations, and urges states to enact legislation allowing the use of this technology.

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Laws

Speed and red-light cameras are automated enforcement technologies used to detect and deter speeders and red-light runners. Some jurisdictions use similar technology for other traffic violations, such as illegal rail crossings or toll violations.

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