Frequently Asked Questions
Automated enforcement refers to the use of electronic devices such as speed and red light cameras to enforce traffic safety laws. Although many states have laws explicitly authorizing various types of automated enforcement, some states have no laws at all and a few explicitly ban this type of enforcement.
Automated enforcement citations are typically treated just like parking tickets in that the registered owner is liable. Citations are also typically civil penalties so they do not result in points on a driver’s record nor do they have an impact on insurance rates.
With the increase in traffic volume and the overall number of drivers rising faster than the capacity of officers to perform routine traffic enforcement, automated traffic cameras have emerged as a way to be a “force multiplier” for our police departments. This allows them to address problem traffic areas without having to commit substantial operational resources thus freeing up resources to address more urgent public safety issues in their communities.
Compliance with traffic laws in automated enforcement zones makes pedestrians and motorists safer. As a driver, it is not always easy to see the connection between a few extra miles an hour on the speedometer and the impact it has during an accident. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that if you hit a pedestrian at 20 mph, there is a 95% chance of they will survive. If you hit a pedestrian at 40 mph, there is only a 20% chance they will survive.1 Speed limits are set for a reason. Going a few miles over the limit may seem harmless, but in the event of an accident, it can mean the difference between life and death.
In states where automated enforcement is allowed, local ordinances must be passed by the appropriate legislative body (e.g. city council, township trustees etc.) Sample ordinances can be provided by Optotraffic. Typically, there are public notice, signing, and warning period requirements. Enforcement days/hours and fine schedules must also be published. Optotraffic’s experienced staff will work with each jurisdiction to navigate the entire process of establishing an automated enforcement program.
With Optotraffic there are no upfront costs to start an enforcement program. Fees are typically based on a portion of the paid citation so enforcement programs are always 100% violator funded. Furthermore, since most of our enforcement systems are portable there are no contract termination fees.
Our systems have both portable and fixed mount options, and have varying size “footprints”. This broad enforcement system portfolio maximizes deployment location flexibility and ensures compliance with state and local laws regarding system placement. For example, in Maryland, automated speed enforcement is typically only in designated school zones while automated red light enforcement can be at any intersection. In all cases the jurisdiction has the final say in the enforcement system location.
All jurisdictions under contract with Optotraffic use a duly authorized and trained law enforcement officer employed by or under contract with the local government agency to review and issue citations. Optotraffic acts as an independent contractor for our police departments by providing and maintaining the automated enforcement technology and providing a complete suite of back-office services.
For independent, accurate information on speeding, red light running, automated enforcement, and traffic laws, we suggest the following sources:
- Federal Highway Administration provides a plethora of statistics on speeding and red light running.
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety provides information on the efficacy of automated enforcement, statistics on highway safety, a review of the law regarding automated enforcement, and much more.
- The Intelligent Transportation Society of America is an advocate for technologies that make transportation safer and more efficient.
- The Governors Highway Safety Association brings together the best thinking from states and territories in the U.S. and Canada.
- The National Coalition for Safer Roads focuses on red light safety cameras and their effectiveness.