GUIDANCE FOR USING RED LIGHT CAMERAS

Federal Highway AdministrationNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration

March 20, 2003


INTRODUCTION

UNDERSTANDING OF THE PROBLEM

PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION

COUNTERMEASURES AND THEIR APPLICATIONS

RED LIGHT CAMERA PROGRAM IMPLEMENTATION

REFERENCES

BIBLIOGRAPHY

APPENDIX A PHOTO RED LIGHT ENFORCEMENT LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS

LIST OF TABLES

Table 5-1 SELECTED RED LIGHT CAMERA SYSTEM ACQUISTION,
INSTALLATION, OPERATIONS, AND MAINTENANCE
ALTERNATIVES

Table 5-2 PAYMENT OPTIONS FOR CONTRACTOR OWNED AND OPERATED RED LIGHT CAMERA SYSTEMS

Table 5-3 PAYMENT OPTIONS FOR AGENCY OWNED AND CONTRACTOR OPERATED RED LIGHT CAMERA SYSTEMS

Table 5-4 PUBLIC AWARENESS AND EDUCATION CAMPAIGN ELEMENTS USED BY SELECTED RED LIGHT CAMERA PROGRAMS

Table 5-5 CAMERA UNITS COMPARED

INTRODUCTION

The use of cameras for the enforcement of red light running violations at signalized intersections is becoming increasingly widespread in the United States. State and local agencies have found that the use of red light cameras can reduce red light running by motorists and, more importantly, reduce the number of crashes attributable to red light running. The reduction in the number of crashes is especially important as crashes caused by motorists running red lights are, on the average, more deadly and damaging than other types of crashes at signalized intersections (1, 2, 3).

Implementation of red light cameras in the United States has been inconsistent and, in a few cases applied incorrectly. Problems with contracting, design, implementation, and operation of red light camera systems have raised questions regarding legality and intent of photo enforcement systems. Appearance of unfairness in the use of red-light cameras, in broader perspective, can also cast doubt about other forms of technology used to improve transportation operations and safety.

As implementation has grown, however, little research or guidance has been issued that offers proven, effective, and comprehensive procedures that traffic engineers, law enforcement officials, and other State and local agency managers can follow to implement a successful red light camera program.

The rapid deployment of red light cameras across the United States has been viewed by some as a single, fix-all solution to the growing concerns about red light running and crashes attributable to red light running. This belief may lead to the inappropriate use of red light camera systems and inaccurate assessment of actual intersection safety problems.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have developed this guidance for the use of State and local agencies on the implementation and operation of red light camera systems. Although not a regulatory requirement, the guidance is intended to provide critical information for State and local agencies on relevant aspects of red light camera systems in order to promote consistency and proper implementation and operation, and to ensure that this effective tool and other forms of technology remain available to transportation agencies around the nation.

This guidance can be used by State and local agency managers, transportation engineers, and law enforcement officials to identify and properly address safety problems resulting from red light running within their jurisdiction. This guidance outlines proven and effective practices implemented in the United States, and generally provides guidance that can be followed to ensure that cost-effective solutions are implemented by State and local agencies. The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) is considering issuing in 2003 Making Intersections Safer: A Toolbox of Factors and Countermeasures to Prevent Red Light Running (4) that will discuss in detail many of the issues and practices identified in this document.