Automated enforcement systems have reduced red-light violations by 20 to 60 percent and crashes by 22 to 51 percent.

Experience with automated enforcment systems in Arizona, California, Maryland and New York.

June 1998
Paradise Valley; Arizona; United States; San Francisco; California; United States; Oxnard; California; United States; National City; California; United States; Howard County; Maryland; United States; New York City; New York; United States; Victoria; Australia

Summary Information

This is a synthesis report summarizing experiences with automated enforcement systems from locations in the United States and abroad. The report contains benefits data for systems enforcing red-light violations, speed limits, highway-rail grade crossing violations, and commercial vehicle safety violations.


Red Light Enforcement Systems

The automated red-light enforcement system in New York, NY began operation in 1993 with enforcement at 15 intersections; by 1998, 30 intersections were included in the program. The system uses cameras triggered by loop detectors mounted in the pavement. There was no public education/notification program coinciding with the initiation of automated enforcement in New York. This synthesis report mentions a 30 percent reduction in violations over the life of the program. A 1997 Urban Transportation Monitor article cited a 20 percent reduction in violations over the life of the program.

Howard County, Maryland implemented red-light enforcement cameras at two intersections during a demonstration project. There was a large public information and education campaign coinciding with the project, though the locations of the monitored intersections were not revealed. Signs were posted along the roadways with enforcement, but not at particular intersections. During the project, violators received warning notices in the mail. Prior to the public information campaign, the equipment was used to track the number of violations at intersection before the system began operation. There was a 23 percent reduction in the number of violations per day at the two intersections after the public information campaign and mailing of violation notices commenced.

The red-light enforcement system in San Francisco, California uses two in-pavement loop detectors to trigger the camera whenever a vehicle enters the intersection 0.3 seconds or more after the red phase begins while travelling at a speed greater than 15 mph. Between the 1st and 6th months of operation, the ratio of violating vehicles to the total number of vehicles using the monitored approach decreased by 42 percent. San Francisco also implemented a public awareness campaign about the problem of red-light running at the time the automated enforcement program began.

Oxnard, California implemented an enforcement program very similar to the one implemented in San Francisco and also began a corresponding public awareness program. The enforcement program in Oxnard also achieved a 42 percent reduction in violations after only several months.

Victoria, Australia began its red-light enforcement program in 1983 and in 1999 the program includes 35 cameras rotated among 132 sites around the Melbourne metropolitan area. The synthesis report cites two studies evaluating the effectiveness of the program. A 1988 study found a 30 percent reduction in right-angle crashes due to the program and a 10.4 percent reduction in casualties from crashes. A second study, in 1995, found that the number of red-light violations had been reduced between 35 and 60 percent, right-angle crashes decreased 32 percent, right-angle turning crashes decreased by 25 percent, rear-end crashes decreased by 30.8 percent, and rear-end turning crashes increased by 28.2 percent.

Automated Speed Limit Enforcement

Paradise Valley, Arizona began a mobile, automated speed limit enforcement program in 1987. The system consists of a vehicle mounted camera set to photograph vehicles that exceed the speed limit by greater than 25 percent. The synthesis report states that crashes throughout the city have decreased by 40 percent since the inception of the program, citing references from 1995, 1991, and 1997.

National City, California implemented an automated speed limit enforcement program in 1991. The system consists of one mobile unit, with 90 possible enforcement locations. A public awareness campaign was conducted during the first 5 months of the program’s operation. The report states that the number of accidents during the six-year period after the program’s inception was 51 percent lower than the number during the six years before.

Victoria, Australia introduced an automated speed limit enforcement program in 1989 as part of a statewide speed reduction campaign including a public awareness effort. The system consists of 54 mobile speed cameras, each operated by a police officer. In 1994, after 5 years of the programs operation, the number of crashes had decreased by 22 percent and the number of injuries from crashes had decreased 38 percent.


Little information was provided in the synthesis regarding evaluation methodologies for the studies that determined the various benefits discussed.

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Overview of Automated Enforcement in Transportation

Published By: Institute of Transportation Engineers

Source Date: June 1998

Other Reference Number: Report No. IR-100



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Goal Areas


Typical Deployment Locations

Metropolitan Areas


photo enforcement, red light cameras, red light running, automated enforcement, traffic signals, run red lights, RLR, red light runners, photo-red, speed cameras, automated speed enforcement, photo radar, license plate reader, license plate recognition, LPR

Benefit ID: 2001-00171