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California Red Light Cameras

Since the police can't be present all the time, many cities in California have set up red light cameras to monitor intersections 24-7. In fact, California is kind of a pioneer in this regard. Oxnard set up red light cameras in 1996, and was one of the first cities in the nation to do so. The authority to set up red light cameras is enshrined in the state Vehicle Code, section 21455.5. The Vehicle Code does state that the city installing the cameras has to set up signs to warn drivers that the cameras are there, so if you are alert, you should be able to avoid being caught unawares.


If a camera does catch a vehicle running a red light, a citation is mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. If that's you, you’ll have to pay a fine. You are allowed to see the photographs if you don't think you actually ran a red light. Some jurisdictions use a combination of photos and video cameras, and you can actually go online with the citation number and pull up a video of your car running the red light. If you weren't the one driving, you have two options: pay the fine and have a conviction go on your record for something you didn't do, or tell the police who was driving that day and they'll send the ticket to them instead.


Although some people feel that red light cameras are an invasion of privacy, they have been in use for over a decade now. How well do California intersection cameras work? A report prepared by the California state auditor examined accident data from 1995 to 2001, and concluded that California red light cameras did appear to be improving traffic safety. For example, the report found that the average number of accidents related to red light running each month fell 10 percent in municipalities that used red light cameras as compared to those that did not. Opponents of California intersection cameras often accuse local governments of being "in it for the money." However, the report showed that only 2 cities, San Diego and Oxnard, actually turned a profit using California red light cameras. Like or not, California red light cameras are here to stay. Approach that next intersection with caution-you may be under surveillance!


Dangers of Running Red Lights

Running a California red light is not smart. If you have a red light, then oncoming traffic has a green light, which means that they are not expecting you to be in the intersection. By running a California red light, you are almost asking to either hit someone or to be hit yourself. For example, according to statistics from the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, in 2005 approximately 45% of all car crashes happened at an intersection. Also in 2005, 805 people nationwide died as a result of someone running a red light. Remember, intersections are inherently dangerous places, and California red lights are there for your protection. Getting in accident will delay you for a lot longer than stopping for a red light could possibly do. In fact, if the accident is bad enough, you may find yourself on a detour to the city morgue…not a happy thought! Read more...


Number of California Red Light Tickets Issued

In recent years, California has made a point of trying to curb red light running. Red lights may be enforced either by increased police patrols or by red light cameras. The Office of Traffic Safety issues Police Traffic Safety grants to help local police departments focus on California red light running prevention through increased education and enforcement. Read more...


Red Light Camera Locations

Find a red light camera in your area.


What Are Traffic Lights?

Traffic lights are traffic control devices placed at intersections. They use a standard color-coded light system to tell drivers when it is safe and legal for them to proceed through the intersection. California red lights keep drivers safe by reducing the likelihood that two vehicles will try to go through the intersection at the same time. They also improve the flow of traffic and help keep pedestrians safe by providing them a safe interval in which to cross the road. Read more...


What To Do If You Ran a Red light

In California, suggested fines are set at the state level and can be found in the Uniform Bail and Penalty Schedules. For running a red light, the base fine is set at $100. However, one of the eccentricities of California law is that the extra penalties assessed by the state often double or triple the amount of the base fine. So, even though the fine itself is only a hundred dollars, after all the penalties get tacked on to your bill, you're looking at an amount due of $350! Of course, the local court may have additional court costs for you to pay as well. Read more...

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