CCTV Articles

How Do Red Light Traffic Cameras Work?

How Red Light Cameras Work

Have you ever ran a red light and not been caught in the act? Well you might not be so lucky next time. Now we have this new thing called red light cameras. Well there not really new, they have been around for over 40 years but have just increased in popularity recently. Running a red light has always been a dangerous thing to do but people seem to always do it. Whether it’s a carless act, or being late for a meeting, running a red light has the possibility of causing accidents that produce casualties and property damages that range in billions of dollars. Red light cameras have been shown to deter driver from running red light and keeping our streets safer. Before red light cameras, you were only caught if there was an officer in the area. Now the cameras are almost considered 24/7 officers with legal force and have the authority to give you a ticket. Even though the ticket does not put any points on your license most would agree that the $160.00 penalty is bad enough. There are only two ways to dispute the fine;

  1. When you receive the ticket in a month or two, you just mail the amount back to them within 60 Days
  2. You have a court hearing to see if it was you driving or someone who stole or borrowed your car.

These laws vary in each state so make sure you check the laws in your area. Some think it’s a mistake to put the cameras up but, statistic show they save lives.

Red light cameras are complex in design but contain only three main pieces.

Cameras Triggers Computer(Brain)

How Red Light Cameras Work

With these three main components you can catch a red light runner. Let’s start with the cameras. The cameras that are used in new system are most likely going to be digital. The old way was to use film based cameras but technology has advanced from then. The difference between the two is digital records instantaneously ready for viewing as soon as the event happens. Film is something that is taken and stored at the source and must be retrieved. The cameras are placed high above traffic usually on all four corners of the intersection to get the proper shot. They are placed high on poles because they need to see your license plate in between all other traffic.

How Traffic Cameras Work Next are the triggers, the sensing part of the system. They detect when a car or something has caused a disturbance in its perimeter on the road. There are many different types of trigger systems that basically do the same thing. One is called an induction-loop system. This system is when they run a stretch of wires underneath the pavement just before the intersection for each lane that is usually wrapped in rectangles overlapping each other. Doing this allows you to create an electromagnetic field above the pavement. This is constantly monitored and controlled by the computer system for any disturbances. Something that disturbs the field is metal and lots of it. This creates a disturbance in the electromagnetic field and sends a message back to the computer stating that there is something there. Basically when a car drives over the pavement before the intersection it sets off the trigger for the camera. This is the most common trigger used for this system. There has been some luck with other types of trigger systems like laser and radar but not as accurate as the induction- loop systems. There is one that is showing signs of accuracy and consistency and that is the video loop system. This is where a camera consistently view’s a set area in the intersection and the computer is configured when the light turns red to check of any changes in that loop and when there is it set the trigger off. Triggers are in place to sense when car is in place for the perfect crime of running a red light.

With the cameras and triggers in place you need to have the computer to make it all work. The computer is the brains of this operation and gives commands to all the components to allow it to work as a unit. The computer is what tells the cameras to take the footage when the triggers are engaged. It also sends the footage to a private company that tracks each occurrence and sends the final results to the owner of the vehicle and authorities.

How Red Light Cameras Work

Leave a Reply