Red-light-running crashes caused approximately 139,000 injuries and 846 fatalities in 2018, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Speed also is a factor in thousands of vehicle crashes each year. Nearly 9,400 deaths, or 26% of all motor vehicle fatalities, occurred in speed-related crashes in 2018, based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Because of limited resources, many local governments have turned to automated enforcement to enforce red-light-running and speeding violations without diverting law enforcement resources from other areas.
Red-light and speed cameras allow local law enforcement agencies to enforce these traffic laws remotely. Nearly 350 U.S. communities use red-light cameras and more than 150 communities use cameras to enforce speed laws. State laws regarding automated enforcement generally establish guidelines for municipal governments. Some state laws limit the use of the cameras to certain cities, streets or specific areas, such as school or work zones, while other state laws allow their use statewide.
Currently, city and local governments in 22 states—Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington—and the District of Columbia use red-light cameras. Notably, while Texas enacted a bill banning the use of red-light cameras in 2019, some communities with existing contracts will be permitted to continue using cameras for the time being.
Communities in 16 states—Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Washington—and the District of Columbia currently have speed camera programs in place. Georgia authorized speed cameras in school zones beginning in 2018. Pennsylvania enacted legislation in 2018 establishing a five-year pilot program for automated speed enforcement cameras in work zones on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, interstates and federal aid highways in the state.
Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia prohibit both red-light and speed cameras. Montana and South Dakota prohibit red-light cameras, and New Jersey and Wisconsin do not allow speed cameras. Nevada prohibits the use of cameras unless operated by an officer or installed in a law enforcement vehicle or facility. The constitutionality of automated enforcement laws has been challenged in many jurisdictions. For example, Missouri’s Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that red-light and speed cameras were unconstitutional.
- Enforcing Traffic Laws with Red-Light and Speed Cameras, July 2020, by Jonathon Bates and Shelly Oren.
- Traffic Safety Trends: State Legislative Action 2018, June 2020, by Douglas Shinkle, Annie Kitch and Kevin Pula.
- Traffic Safety Trends: State Legislative Action 2017, June 2018, by Amanda Essex, Douglas Shinkle, Amanda Miller and Kevin Pula. See Appendix I: State Policies Regarding Use of Traffic Cameras.
- Traffic Safety Trends: State Legislative Action 2016, April 2017, by Anne Teigen, Amanda Essex and Douglas Shinkle. See Appendix I: State Policies Regarding Use of Traffic Cameras.
- Red-Light Camera Traffic Enforcement, December 2016, by Anne Teigen.
- Traffic Safety Trends: State Legislative Action 2015, February 2016, by Anne Teigen, Douglas Shinkle and Amanda Essex. See Appendix I: State Policies Regarding Use of Traffic Cameras.
- Traffic Safety Trends: State Legislative Action 2014, February 2015, by Anne Teigen, Douglas Shinkle and Amanda Essex. See Appendix I: State Policies Regarding Use of Traffic Cameras.