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Red-Light Cameras/Automated Enforcement

Red-Light Running Camera - Photos by Brian Chandler (used with permission)Automated red-light enforcement using cameras has shown to be effective in reducing the incidence of red-light running and the number of red-light running crashes. This section provides resources, and research and publications, regarding camera technology, implementation examples, and frequently asked questions on the topic of red-light cameras.


About Red-Light Cameras/Automated Enforcement

Red-Light Camera Enforcement: Implementation Guidance
The implementation of red-light cameras for enforcement is not simply a "plug and play" activity. Implementation requires a considerable amount of effort, coordination and cooperation to be put into use and to be operationally successful. This summary-level implementation guidance provides an overview of implementation considerations associated with red-light cameras.

Red-Light Camera Technology
This section provides an overview of camera technology, suggested use requirements and the photo enforcement process.

Research and Publications

Analysis of Red-Light Violation Data Collected from Intersections Equipped with Red-Light Photo Enforcement Cameras, DOT HS 810 580, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. March 2006. [PDF 949 KB]
This report presents results from an analysis of about 47,000 red-light violation records collected from 11 intersections in the City of Sacramento, California by red-light photo enforcement cameras between May 1999 and June 2003. The goal of this analysis is to understand the correlation between red-light violations and various driver, intersection, and environmental factors.

Bibliography of Red-Light Camera/Automated Enforcement References, ITE Automated Enforcement Technical Committee, Washington, DC [PDF 56 KB]
A collection of cited materials related to red-light cameras and automated enforcement.

Can We Make Red-Light Runners Stop? Red-Light Photo Enforcement in San Francisco, California, Fleck, Jack L. and Smith, Bridget B., San Francisco Department of Parking and Traffic, March 1999. [PDF 22 KB]
This paper contains discussion of the level of preparation required to initiate a red-light running program, legal framework, cost effectiveness of automated enforcement, criteria for site selection, and suggestions for increasing citation issuance rates. Recommendations from San Francisco’s experience stress the importance of creating partnerships within your agency and without, combining engineering and enforcement efforts with an educational campaign, and influencing local legislation.

Overview of Automated Enforcement in Transportation, Turner, S. and Polk, A.E., ITE Journal, Washington, DC, June 1998. [PDF 92 KB]
The article summarizes implementation elements that were found to be important in the success of automated enforcement programs worldwide. The article also provides a discussion of several issues currently being debated, including privacy, distribution of ticket revenue, ticketing procedures, and the effectiveness of automated enforcement.

Red-Light Camera Systems Operational Guidelines, FHWA, January 2005. [HTML, PDF 1.32MB]
The information contained in this document is intended to foster discussions and initiatives that will improve intersection safety by reducing crashes due to red-light running. This document is an update to a 2003 version. It is not a regulatory requirement and the decision to use red-light cameras is a matter for local decisionmakers.

Red-Light Enforcement Cameras: Department of Public Works and Transportation, Montgomery County, Maryland, 2002. Montgomery County operates a red-light camera system at over 30 intersections.

Red-Light Running In Iowa: The Scope, Impact and Possible Implications, Summary Report, January 2001. [PDF 27KB]
Many states and local jurisdictions have undertaken studies and enacted programs in reaction to the major transportation safety concern of red-light running. This research study examined the scope of this phenomenon in Iowa, reviewed red-light running reduction studies and programs nationwide, and proposed countermeasures to address significant violation problems.

Red-Lights Mean Stop, Hasson, Patrick, FHWA, Washington, DC, 2000. [PDF 13 KB]
This brief article provides insight into red-light running as a national issue and specifically covers the FHWA review of enforcement techniques.

Reducing Red-Light Running Through Longer Yellow Signal Timing and Red-Light Camera Enforcement: Results of a Field Investigation, Retting RA et. al., Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), June 2007. [PDF 648 KB]
This study shows that the provision of adequate yellow signal timing reduces red-light running, but longer yellow timing alone does not eliminate the need for better enforcement, which can be provided effectively by red-light cameras.

Read a summary of the report: IIHS Status Report, cover story, Vol. 42, No. 1, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), January 2007 [PDF]

Safety Evaluation of Red-Light Cameras, FHWA HRT-05-048, April 2005. [HTML, PDF 621 KB]
This is a final report on a study to evaluate the effectiveness of red-light camera systems in reducing crashes. The intended audience is professionals who make decisions about safety programs for intersections. The report includes the executive summary provided below:
Safety Evaluation of Red-Light Cameras—Executive Summary, FHWA HRT-05-048, April, 2005. [HTML, PDF 149 KB]

Synthesis and Evaluation of Red-Light Running Electronic Enforcement Programs in the United States, FHWA-IF-00-004, Washington, DC, September 1999. [PDF 173 KB]
FHWA has identified red-light running equipment as a potential safety countermeasure, and, therefore, has funded technology demonstration and evaluation programs in several municipalities. This report presents the information from those demonstrations as well as information on two other locations where red-light running programs have been implemented. Information is provided on changes in red-light violations and crashes, costs, public acceptance and institutional barriers. This report will be of interest to State and local agencies that are considering implementation of red-light running programs within their jurisdictions.

The Automated Enforcement of Traffic Signals, Robert P. Maccubbin, Barbara L. Staples, and Arthur E. Salwin, Mitretek Systems, Washington, DC, July 2001. [PDF 163 KB]
This report reviews the operation of red-light camera programs, the impact of red-light cameras on transportation safety, the public opinion of red-light cameras, and the studies in progress at the time of the report. Additionally, the report makes several recommendations for further research into the impacts of red-light camera systems.

The Effectiveness of Iowa's Automated Red-Light Running Enforcement Programs (RLR, Phase 2), CTRE, Iowa State University, Project 05-226, December 2007. [HTML, PDF 6.4 MB]
A statewide analysis of red-light running crashes in Iowa, using crash data from 2001 to 2006, indicates that an average of 1,682 red-light running crashes occur at signalized intersections every year. This report examines the red-light running automated enforcement programs in three communities in Iowa and summarizes the results of analyses to evaluate the effectiveness of such cameras.

Two additional publications that relate to this research report include:

The Impact of Red Light Cameras (photo-red enforcement) on Crashes in Virginia, VCTIR (Virginia Department of Transportation and University of Virgina), Project 07-R2, 2007 [PDF 955 KB]
To reduce red light running in Virginia, six jurisdictions (Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax City, Fairfax County, Falls Church, Vienna) deployed red light cameras at some point during the 10-year period when they were permitted under Virginia law. This report documents the safety impacts of those cameras based on 7 years of crash data for the period January 1, 1998, through December 31, 2004.

Toolbox of Countermeasures and Their Potential Effectiveness to Make Intersections Safer: Issue Brief 8, FHWA, November 2009. [PDF 633 KB]
This issue brief documents estimates of the crash reduction that might be expected if a specific countermeasure or group of countermeasures is implemented (such as cameras to detect red-light running) with respect to intersection crashes. This brief notes that a16% reduction in right-angle fatal/injury crashes is expected after the installation of red-light running cameras.

Use of Automated Enforcement for Red-Light Violations, Passetti, Karl A., Department of Civil Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, August 1997. [PDF 230 KB)
Included in this report is an evaluation of the operating conditions where automated enforcement was effective; a study of the legal, legislative, and social issues needed to implement a program; a review of the current technology being used for automated enforcement; and a review of previous and current automated enforcement of red-light applications in the United States and abroad. A strategy to create and implement an automated enforcement program for red-light violations was established.

Press Releases

FHWA Study Finds Red-Light Running Violations Down 60 Percent, FHWA 9-00, February 2000. [HTML]

If you would like to add something to this site concerning red-light cameras, contact Ed Rice of the Federal Highway Administration at 202-366-9064 or via email at Ed.Rice@dot.gov.

For a complete list of communities using red-light cameras and/or speed cameras, visit [http://www.iihs.org/research/topics/rlc_cities.html].

For information on automated enforcement laws in each State see: [http://www.iihs.org/laws/state_laws/auto_enforce.html].

Page last modified on September 4, 2014.
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