Red Light Cameras

Running red lights is a frequent and often deadly roadway threat that is responsible for hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of injuries every year. One of the most effective ways of preventing red light running is for a locality to install speed cameras at dangerous intersections. According to an IIHS Study, red light cameras reduce the rate of fatal crashes by 21%.


Red Light Camera Statistics

According to AAA, drivers running red lights result in 28% of crash deaths at signalized intersections. Before red lights could give tickets, the only way for an officer to ticket someone who ran a red light would be to dangerously chase them through the intersection.

Red light cameras were installed to catch people who run red lights, especially at collision prone intersections, without the need for a police officer to be on scene. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that properly implemented red light cameras reduced the fatal red-light running crash rate of large cities by 21% and the rate of all fatal crashes at signalized intersections by 14%.

According to AAA's Traffic Safety Culture Index, 85% of drivers see running red lights as very dangerous, yet almost one in three say they ran through one within the past 30 days. The frequency of red-light infractions is worrisome to driver safety, especially if it occurs at an intersection without red light cameras. Having a dash cam can provide protection to drivers who find themselves affected by someone running a red light, especially if the accident results in a hit and run scenario. Dash cam footage can help drivers identify where the fault lies in an intersection accident and high definition cameras may even capture license plate information if a driver panics and flees the scene. New Cobra SC Series dash cams even provide automated video incident summaries that can be used for insurance claims, saving drivers the hassle of formatting and promoting efficient claim processing.



What Do Red Light Cameras Look Like?

Red light cameras aren't always easily identifiable. In busy areas, fake cameras are often dispersed throughout intersections or even rotated in place of real cameras to prevent drivers from memorizing camera locations. One sign to look for when trying to identify what red light cameras look like is based on location. Cameras will usually be mounted above a traffic light or on a street pole facing the intersection, so they have clear view of vehicles. You may also see a controller box mounted on a street pole nearby, as well as a sign notifying drivers of photo enforcement.


Another way to identify intersections with red light cameras is to use a radar detector or dash cam. Radar detectors help drivers identify a variety of road hazards including speed traps, speed cameras, red light cameras, and traffic flow changes. Real-time reporting allows dash cams to also inform drivers of an upcoming red light or speed camera. More advanced radar detectors with unique features like AutoLearn gain insights from their surroundings. After passing a radar source three times, a radar detector can add that location to its database and automatically update drivers as they approach. Pairing a radar detector with a dash cam forms the ultimate driver alert system. With the additional safety features of dash cams, if a driver was to find themselves in a situation that caused them to receive a violation, dash cam footage may be admissible in court to refute a ticket.


Red Light Camera FAQs

What states have red light cameras?

Currently 24 states and the District of Columbia have red light cameras in at least one location. The following states do have red light cameras:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Washington

How do you find out if a traffic light has a camera? 

In some states, any red light camera requires that a sign be posted to notify drivers that red light photos are enforced. In states that don't require signage, drivers should be able to identify cameras mounted above traffic lights or even on street poles near the intersection. Smart radar detectors and dash cams paired with driver safety apps like DriveSmarter can inform drivers of upcoming red light cameras as well as other potential hazards or traffic flow changes.

How do I know if I ran a red light?

The easiest way to find out if you got a ticket for running a red light is to simply wait for the ticket to arrive in your mailbox. Your ticket will arrive at the address where your vehicle is registered so, if you recently moved, be sure to update your license and vehicle information.

Does running a red light affect insurance?

Red light camera tickets won't affect your car insurance rates in the majority of states. There are currently three states that enforce putting points on your license or adding a red light camera violation to your driving record: Arizona, California, and Oregon. So, unless you live in those states, your auto insurance rates won't increase after receiving a red light camera violation.

How much does a red light camera ticket cost?

Red light camera violations vary widely by state but can range from $50 to $300.

What is the difference between red light cameras and speed cameras?

Red light cameras are designed to capture images and short videos of drivers that commit a driving violation by driving through an intersection during a red light, regardless of speed. Red light cameras are only mounted at intersections while speed cameras can be located along roadsides where radar technology will identify vehicles going over the speed limit.

Do red light cameras flash?

Yes, red light cameras flash during the day and night to help ensure a clear image of the vehicle and driver during a traffic violation. You may not notice a red light camera flash during the day, but they are pretty noticeable once the sun goes down.

Do red light cameras take a picture of your face?

Yes, red light cameras do need to capture an image with your face to be able to identify who was driving the vehicle. If you share a vehicle or loan your car to someone, you don't want to be liable for their driving errors.

Can you fight a red light camera ticket?

Yes, if the photo you receive does not show your face, your car, and your license plate then you may have a case for dismissing the charges. If you had a good reason for going through a red light then you may be able to go to court and explain the situation to the judge for a hopeful dismissal. Possible exclusions can include trying to avoid an accident, get out of the way of an emergency vehicle, or if you had an emergency yourself. If you have dash cam footage, check if it is admissible in court to help fight your traffic violation.