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Cameras on Traffic Lights

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Related Stuff Last Updated: 04/18/2011

How cameras on traffic lights work, what happens if one catches you, and the impact it will have on your insurance.

Sign Advising of Camera on Traffic Light

Sign giving fair warning to would be red-light runners that they are being watched.

No matter how much of a hurry you are in or how impatient you are, running a red light is dangerous. Per the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, red light runners cause 22 percent of all traffic accidents in the country.

Because of this and the increase in the amount of red-light violations that are ticketed by police officers, cities have started putting cameras on traffic lights to catch and hopefully deter red light runners from continuing this behavior.

How Cameras on Traffic Lights Work

Cameras on traffic lights are mounted high above the intersection so that they have a clean view of the vehicles going through the intersection. You can usually spot them mounted on a street light or even on the traffic light itself and are usually placed in intersections that are the busiest or have the highest percentage of red-light runners.

There are four per intersection and each single camera is set up to view one of the four directions that come through the intersection. When a person runs a red light a sensor is triggered and the camera takes a picture of your license plate.

What Happens if You get Caught on Camera?

If you run a red light and the camera gets your license plate, the police can gather all of the information that they need from these cameras to issue you a red-light violation ticket. After they have processed all the evidence, you will receive a ticket and even a picture of you committing the violation in the mail a month or two after you ran the red light.

What Happens to Your Insurance if a Traffic Camera Catches You?

Getting caught by a camera on a traffic light has the same negative effect as any other ticket on your insurance. The points added against your driving record are no more and no less than if you were to have been caught running a red light by a police officer. Because there is no difference, the amount that you insurance premium may increase will be just the same.

Why are Cameras on Traffic Lights Needed?

Cameras prevent cities from having to post a police office at an intersection at all times to catch red light runners to keep other drivers safe. This makes it so that the officers can be used in other needed areas that require a police presence rather than a camera.

Other Devices on Traffic Lights

Not all devices above traffic lights are camera’s that are taking pictures of red light runners. Some devices are simply sensors that gather data of traffic flow through a certain intersection and others are sensors that tell the traffic light to change when there is someone waiting for a green light. But, if you just make it a habit not to run red lights, you won’t have to be concerned as to which one is a camera and which one is not.

For more information on red light cameras visit the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.

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Michele Wilmonen

Michele's first introduction to insurance was working for a major insurance company as a file clerk and a mailroom supervisor in a regional office. She learned insurance directly from underwriters and claims adjusters from questions and also watching them do their job. Since then, she's earned a number of insurance certifications from the Insurance Institute of America and also a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Idaho. She blogs at Car Insurance Guidebook.

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