Camera Effectiveness

Are Red Light Cameras Effective?

Red light violations contribute substantially to the million intersection collisions that occur nationally each year. Sugar Land simply does not have enough officers to set up conventional police enforcement at each intersection and enforce red light running violations. In addition to manpower limitations, traditional enforcement endangers the lives of officers as well as innocent motorists and pedestrians due to the fact that the officer typically follows a violating vehicle through the red light to stop it.
The increasing use of red light cameras has been fueled by escalating violations, growing public support, advances in technology, and mounting documentation of their safety benefits. Red light camera technology has been shown to be a promising tool:
  • Changes behavior and leads to safer driving habits
  • Creates a violator-based revenue source that can be used to pay for increased public safety
  • Increases police officer safety and public safety
  • Reduces health care costs
  • Reduces traffic crashes and dangerous driving
  • Responds to public concerns
  • Saves lives

Facts About Effectiveness of Red Light Cameras in Sugar Land

  • The implementation of red light cameras in Sugar Land resulted in a 58 percent reduction in accidents at targeted intersections from 2009-2012.
  • Approximately 70 percent of violators do not live in Sugar Land.
  • In 2011 and 2012, cameras were removed at the following intersections after compliance levels improved by almost 60 percent: U.S. Highway 59 at Sugar Lakes Boulevard and two locations at U.S. Highway 59 and State Highway 6.
  • Those who receive a red light ticket rarely receive a second ticket. Eighty nine percent of the license plates sent a violation notice never receive a second notice.

Other Examples
  • In a study released in 2016, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety determined red-light cameras in 79 large U.S. cities saved nearly 1,296 lives. Conversely, the study found the rate of red-light running fatalities rose 30 percent in cities that had turned off their cameras. However, red-light running fatalities decreased 21 percent in cities that turned on red-light safety cameras.*
  • The city of Houston experienced the very results reported in the IIHS study. During the four years after red-light safety cameras went dark, crashes increased 117 percent and fatal collisions rose 30 percent in Houston.**
  • In the city of Amarillo, crashes have decreased at four intersections with red-light cameras in operation for six years. The overall results show an 84% decrease in crashes.***
  • In Fort Worth, the red-light safety camera program is gathering fewer tickets per camera every month a camera is in place. At the city's most ticketed intersection, tickets fell from 14,632 in fiscal year 2010 to 6,294 in the last fiscal year, a decrease of more than 50 percent. At Fort Worth's second most-ticketed spot, tickets decreased from 13,455 in 2009 fiscal year to 5,145 last fiscal year.****
  • Texas state law (section 707.008) dedicates 50% of traffic fines initiated at red-light cameras to go to trauma centers in the state. Most of the funds (96%) are to be used for uncompensated trauma care. The remainder go to EMS providers and Regional Advisory Councils. The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts estimates this fund will collect more than $128 million from inception through fiscal year 2016-2017.*****
Cameras are clearly not a replacement for police officers. An automated enforcement program is one component of a broad-based traffic safety program including engineering, education, and traditional law enforcement.


*Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. “Effects of Turning On and Off Red Light Cameras on Fatal Crashes in Large U.S. Cities.

**The Houston Chronicle, Oct. 28, 2014.

***Source: KVII-TV ABC 7 (Texas), July 26, 2016.

****WFAA-TV ABC 8, May 25, 2015.

*****Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. “Report on Use of General Revenue Dedicated Accounts. 84rd Legislature, 2013.” Downloaded Dec. 12, 2016. Fund 5137.

Texas Department of State Health Services. EMS and Trauma Systems Funding Programs. Sept. 25, 2009. Downloaded Nov. 13, 2014