Law Enforcement

Install Red-Light Cameras and Speed Cameras

Red-light cameras and speed cameras are automated trafficenforcement systems that photograph vehicles whose drivers run red lights or drive faster than the posted speed limit. Cameras typically record the date, time of day, time elapsed since the beginning of the red signal (where applicable), vehicle speed, and license plate. Tickets or citations are then mailed to the vehicle owners, based on a review of photographic evidence. Localities typically approach red-light- and speedcamera programs by holding either the driver or the registered owner responsible for the infraction.

  • Involve stakeholders, including state department of motor vehicles, state and local police, traffic engineering department, public attorney’s office, public information office, the judiciary, community representatives, advocates, and the photo-enforcement services contractor
  • Avoid the appearance of conflict of interest: Verify and oversee the contractor and compensate the contractor solely on the value of the equipment or services provided
  • Avoid appearance of a money grab: Emphasize deterrence through signage and public outreach, avoid excessive penalties and late fees, oversee site selection, adequately fund camera equipment and operations to avoid dependence on fine revenue, install supplemental speed-limit signs along enforced routes, and conduct audits
  • Run the program past a legal review
  • Run an awareness campaign before implementation and on an ongoing basis
  • Evaluate program performance and results
  • Deters would-be violators
  • Red-light cameras significantly decrease right-angle crashes (red-light-running crashes)
  • Red-light cameras reduce fatal red-lightrunning crashes in cities where they are installed
  • Speed cameras reduce all crashes up to 49%, reduce injury crashes up to 50%, and reduce crashes involving fatalities and serious injuries up to 44% in the vicinity of camera sites
  • Over wider areas, speed cameras reduce all crashes up to 35% and reduce crashes involving fatalities and serious injuries up to 58%. These trends were either maintained or improved with time
  • Red-light cameras may increase the number of rear-end crashes at signalized intersections with cameras. (Weighed by the economic impact and severity of injuries, the study found the overall effect of cameras positive)
  • Safeguarding legal due process in automated enforcement and penalization
Where to Use It
  • Implementable on a city- or countywide basis with state authorization
  • Locations where red-light running and speeding impair walkability
  • Red-light cameras:
    • High-risk intersections, determined by the number of crashes or an analysis of the number of crashes attributable to red-light running; citation data; or complaints
    • Intersections where an engineering study concluded that engineering improvements, driver-education initiatives, or other countermeasures would not be effective in reducing crashes from red-light running
  • Speed cameras:
    •  School zones
    • Construction zones
    • Residential areas
    • Areas near parks
    • Areas with many seniors
    • Areas with high levels of pedestrian and bicycle activity
Professional Consensus
  • Red-light cameras are endorsed by Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) within a comprehensive approach to intersection safety
  • Speed cameras are endorsed by the FHWA and NHTSA within a comprehensive approach to speed management
  • FHWA published guidance on red-lightcamera systems

More than 550 U.S. localities run red-light camera programs, including:

More than 111 jurisdictions installed speed cameras, including:

This material is the product of a partnership between America Walks and Sam Schwartz Engineering. Visit here for more information on the partnership.