Red-Light Camera Information
1) Ticket cameras do not improve safety.
Despite the claims of companies that sell ticket cameras and provide related services, there is no independent verification that photo enforcement devices improve highway safety, reduce overall accidents, or improve traffic flow. Believing the claims of companies that sell photo enforcement equipment or municipalities that use this equipment is like believing any commercial produced by a company that is trying to sell you something.
2) These devices discourage the synchronization of traffic lights.
Once red-light cameras start making money for local governments, they are unlikely to jeopardize this income source. Engineering improvements that lessen the income brought in by the cameras include traffic-light synchronization, the elimination of unneeded lights and partial deactivation of other traffic lights during periods of low traffic. When properly done, traffic-light synchronization decreases congestion, pollution, and fuel consumption.
3) There are better alternatives to cameras.
If intersection controls are properly engineered, installed, and operated, there will be very few red-light violations. From the motorists’ perspective, government funds should be used on improving intersections, not on ticket cameras. Even in instances where cameras were shown to decrease certain types of accidents, they increased other accidents. Simple intersection and signal improvements can have lasting positive effects, without negative consequences. Cities can choose to make intersections safer with sound traffic engineering or make money with ticket cameras. Unfortunately, many pick money over safety.
4) Ticket recipients are not notified quickly.
People may not receive citations until days or sometimes weeks after the alleged violation. This makes it very difficult to defend oneself because it would be hard to remember the circumstances surrounding the supposed violation. Even if the photo was taken in error, it may be very hard to recall the day in question.
5) Ticket recipients are not adequately notified.
Most governments using ticket cameras send out tickets via first class mail. There is no guarantee that the accused motorists will even receive the ticket, let alone understand it and know how to respond. However, the government makes the assumption that the ticket was received. If motorists fail to pay, it is assumed that they did so on purpose, and a warrant may be issued for their arrest.
6) There is no certifiable witness to the alleged violation.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it may also take a thousand words to explain what the picture really means. Even in those rare instances where a law enforcement officer is overseeing a ticket camera, it is highly unlikely that the officer would recall the supposed violation. For all practical purposes, there is no “accuser” for motorists to confront, which is a constitutional right. There is no one that can personally testify to the circumstances of the alleged violation, and just because a camera unit was operating properly when it was set up does not mean it was operating properly when the picture was taken of any given vehicle.
7) Taking dangerous drivers’ pictures doesn’t stop them.
Photo enforcement devices do not apprehend seriously impaired, reckless or otherwise dangerous drivers. A fugitive could fly through an intersection at 100 mph and not even get his picture taken, as long as the light was green!
8) Cameras do not prevent most intersection accidents.
Intersection accidents are just that, accidents. Motorists do not casually drive through red lights. Even the most flagrant of red-light violators will not drive blithely into a crowded intersection, against the light. More likely, they do not see a given traffic light because they are distracted, impaired, or unfamiliar with their surroundings. Putting cameras on poles and taking pictures will not stop these kinds of accidents.
9) The driver of the vehicle is not positively identified.
Typically, the photos taken by these cameras do not identify the driver of the offending vehicle. The owner of the vehicle is mailed the ticket, even if the owner was not driving the vehicle and may not know who was driving at the time. The owner of the vehicle is then forced to prove his or her innocence, often by identifying the actual driver who may be a family member, friend or employee.
10) Ticket camera systems are designed to inconvenience motorists.
Under the guise of protecting motorist privacy, the court or private contractor that sends out tickets often refuses to send a copy of the photo to the accused vehicle owner. This is really because many of the photos do not clearly depict the driver or the driver is obviously not the vehicle owner. Typically, the vehicle owner is forced to travel to a courthouse or municipal building to even see the photograph, an obvious and deliberate inconvenience meant to discourage ticket challenges.
Virginia Accidents Increased After Ticket Camera Installation
The Virginia Transportation Research Council released a report expanding upon earlier research into the safety effects of red light cameras in Virginia. It showed an overall increase in crashes after cameras were installed.
A Long Term Study of Red-Light Cameras and Accidents
The conclusion of this Australian study was that RLCs are not an effective countermeasure and that they can increase the number of rear end crashes.
AAA Michigan Study Shows Cameras Aren't Needed
AAA Michigan partnered with a number of communities to improve intersection safety. Their inexpensive structural changes resulted in a 47-percent decrease in crashes and a 50-percent decrease in injuries.
Red-Light-Running Behaviour at Red-Light Camera and Control Intersections
Monash University study showing red-light cameras have no effect on reducing violations.
A Detailed Investigation Of Crash Risk Reduction Resulting From Red-Light Cameras In Small Urban Areas
A study prepared by the North Carolina A&T State University found that red-light cameras increased the number of accidents at intersections.
A Response to Unfounded Criticisms of Burkey and Obeng (2004) Made by the IIHS
The North Carolina A&T University study above was criticized by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). This is a rebuttal of IIHS's claims by the authors of the North Carolina study.
Impact of Red-Light Camera Enforcement on Crash Experience - A Synthesis of Highway Practice
A recent study by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) illustrates the lack of evidence supporting the effectiveness of red-light cameras.
Evaluation of the Red-Light-Camera-Enforcement Pilot Project
This report from Ontario, Canada's Ministry of Transportation's concluded that jurisdictions using photo enforcement experienced an overall increase in property damage and fatal and injury rear-end collisions.
Development of Guidelines for Identifying and Treating Locations with a Red-Light-Running Problem
This Texas Transportation Institute study highlights the efficacy of increasing yellow-light times. An extra second yielded a 40-percent reduction in collisions.
Effect of Yellow-Interval Timing on Red-Light-Violation Frequency at Urban Intersections
This study shows that an increase of 0.5 to 1.5 seconds in yellow-light duration will decrease the frequency of red-light running by at least 50 percent.
Virginia DOT Study on Red-Light Cameras
The Virginia Department of Transportation released a biased report in favor of the cameras that still documented an increase in accidents, including more rear-end collisions and injuries.
Critique of IIHS 2001 Oxnard Study
California Senate Committee on Privacy critiqued the Oxnard study. The results show that IIHS's study is flawed on many levels.
The Red-Light-Running Crisis: Is It Intentional?
This report was prepared by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey's staff. It looks at the problems of red-light cameras and how to really deal with traffic-light violations.
Proponents of red light cameras claim that increasing the yellow light time is not a solution because motorists will adjust to the lengthened yellow light time. These studies prove the proponents are wrong.
Driver Behavior Characteristics at Urban Signalized Intersections
This study shows that providing adequate all-red clearance intervals can significantly impact intersection safety by reducing the probability of occurrence of right angle crashes, even if drivers run the red light.
Misleading San Diego Report
Although the report clearly credits the most significant reduction in violations to an increase in yellow time -- a fact buried on page 78 -- the report nonetheless credits these benefits to the red-light cameras everywhere else in the report, especially in the summary.
Yellow Light Duration Impact On Driver Response
This report from the Institute of Traffic Engineers Journal examines how drivers react to differing yellow light durations.
Chillicothe Red Light Camera Study
This report examines the purpose of the yellow light, dilemma zones, and more.