Code Red Alert on Red Light Cameras

  • Good news — there are new ways for motorists to avoid getting fleeced by automated ticketing systems.
  • State governments are getting pushback from motorists.

Chances are good that you live in one of the 500+ cities that employ red-light cameras – or that you will venture into a jurisdiction that does in the near future. It’s important that you be aware of how these revenue-generating devices work and how you can beat them.

Cameras placed at stoplights that automatically issue tickets to red-light runners have always been more about generating revenue than promoting safety. In fact, research conducted by independent bodies and by the Federal Highway Administration has found that red-light cameras end up causing more accidents.

This is because drivers who are fearful of being ticketed by the precise, unblinking eye of a camera are more likely to slam on their brakes to avoid crossing the white line rather than proceed through the intersection on a yellow light. Sudden braking induced by traffic cameras causes higher rates of rear-end collisions.

In some states, state transportation funds are used to fund red-light cameras in large urban areas. But the revenue from fines stay in the cities where the cameras are located. One more example of taxpayer bailout of incompetently managed inner cities!

Some Good News to Report

The good news is that citizens have gotten wise to the red-light camera scam and are demanding they be removed. (GHSA)

Speed Cameras

  • 13 states have passed laws that prohibit (with very narrow exceptions) the use of speed cameras. 28 states have no law addressing speed cameras. All other states either permit the use of speed cameras (2 + D.C.) or limit their use by location or other criteria (7 + U.S. Virgin Islands).
  • 12 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands have speed cameras currently operating in at least one location.

Red Light Cameras

  • 21 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands have enacted laws permitting some form of red light camera use. 10 states prohibit their use, and 19 states have no state law concerning red light camera enforcement.
  • 24 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands have red light cameras currently operating at least one location.

If red-light cameras are a problem where you live, take action! The Motorists Association’s website has masses of information about fighting tickets and defeating tickets triggered by redlight camers.

Yes, There Are Real Ways to Defeat
Automated Traffic Tickets

In the meantime, what can you do if you are ticketed by a traffic camera? Challenge it!

If you’re issued a citation, whether by a cop or by a camera, you have a right to defend yourself in a courtroom. Most people opt to avoid the hassle and simply pay the ticket. But if you have the time and think you have a case, you can fight your ticket in court and have a good chance of winning.

Arguments for getting a judge to tear up your ticket include:

• You weren’t (or can’t be identified as) the driver of the vehicle.

• Camera evidence is unreliable. (Demand a representative of the camera manufacturer show up to demonstrate that the camera is positioned and functioning properly.)

• You ran the red light in order to avoid an accident or in the context of an emergency.

• There was inadequate signage at the intersection (take photos).

• Yellow light duration is too short (some traffic lights are rigged this way in order to artificially increase violations, at the expense of roadway safety).

As for avoiding camera traps in the future, learn to be a defensive driver! If you own a smartphone, consider installing a free app called Waze. This claims to be the largest online driver group in the world and its users regularly update realtime information about road and traffic situations, including police and camera use. The app – coupled with good driving habits – may reduce your odds of being ticketed.