Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why are Road Safety Cameras needed?
- Running red lights is among the most common cause of all urban crashes, as well as the most dangerous. The Federal Highway Administration notes that you are more likely to be injured due to a red-light running-related crash than any other type of crash. Over the last decade, red-light running crashes have killed nearly 9,000 people, accounting for more than 650 red-light running-related fatalities in 2010. Furthermore, half of the people killed by red-light runners are not the violators but rather other motorists, vehicle passengers, cyclists and pedestrians.
- Speeding is a deadly and costly problem on U.S. roadways. In 2010, speeding was the contributing factor in almost one-third of all fatal crashes, taking the lives of over 10,000 people, according to the NHTSA. Speeding-related crashes also are estimated to cost society more than $40 billion every year.
- Every school day, thousands of drivers risk the lives of the roughly 26 million children who ride a bus to school by illegally passing a stopped school bus while children are boarding or disembarking. Between 2000 and 2009, almost a third of the children killed while getting on or off a school bus were struck by a vehicle other than the bus, according to the NHTSA. A study by the Texas Transportation Institute found that 12,850 drivers illegally passed a stopped school bus on a single school day.
- Road Safety Cameras have been proven to reduce the frequency of dangerous red-light running- and speed-related crashes. Hundreds of Road Safety Camera programs throughout North America have demonstrated that continuous and consistent enforcement provided by cameras changes driver behavior in a positive way, thereby decreasing the likelihood of crashes and associated injuries and fatalities.
Q: How do Road Safety Cameras Work?
Red-Light Safety Cameras
- The system activates when motion is detected just prior to the designated stop bar AFTER the traffic signal has turned red. The stop bar is the point where the intersection technically begins, often designated by a thick white line. When motion is detected, the Red-Light Safety Camera captures two images of an alleged violation, taken from the rear of the vehicle.
- The first image shows the violating vehicle in front of the designated stop bar and the illuminated red light, demonstrating that the vehicle had not entered the intersection before the light changed.
- The second image shows the violator in the middle of the intersection with the red light illuminated, providing further evidence of the red-light violation.
- A close-up of the violating vehicle’s license plate obtained from one of these two high-resolution images is used to verify the vehicle’s owner as well as additional evidence.
- The system also records multiple violation data, including the time, date and durations of the yellow and red lights.
- The camera also records a 12-second digital video of the violation that includes six seconds prior to and six seconds after the violating vehicle runs the red light.
- For states that require identification of the driver, an image of the front of the vehicle, displaying the driver’s face, is captured as well.
- Trained law enforcement officials must review and approve all potential red-light running violations before citations can be issued. These officials closely examine the images, video and violation data to determine whether a violation did in fact occur.
Speed Safety Cameras
- There are multiple ways Speed Safety Cameras can capture violating vehicles: A speeding vehicle can be detected by sensors embedded in the road just before the speed-enforcement zone or by passing through radar or laser beams that span across the road.
- If a vehicle meets or exceeds the speed criteria established by the municipality, the system’s camera captures two images: one at the initial point of speed detection and a second confirmation image based on a fixed distance calculation.
- With each image, the system records relevant violation data such as the location, date, time (in tenths of seconds), speed and posted speed.
- The system also records a 12-second digital video of the violation.
- As with red-light running violations, trained law enforcement official must review all captured evidence of a potential speeding violation and approve the violation before citations are issued.
- Video cameras are installed on the exterior of the driver’s side of the school bus.
- When a school bus extends its Stop Arm and turns on its flashing lights, the system will automatically detect if a vehicle passes the stopped school bus within the enforcement zone.
- If a vehicle passes the school bus, the cameras capture video of the back of the violating vehicle.
- Violation videos are wirelessly uploaded to ATS’ Axsis™ Violation Processing System for validation, processing and notice issuance.
- A violation image is extracted from the video; this image will show the violating vehicle as it passes the school bus, the violating vehicle’s license plate and the school bus’ extended stop arm. A final review of the violation image and video is conducted by law enforcement personnel, who then will approve or reject the violation. If the violation is approved, a citation then is issued to the owner of the violating vehicle.
Q: Who reviews and issues traffic violations?
- Local law enforcement authorities review potential violation data forwarded by ATS. The violation data forwarded to law enforcement include violation images and video, a close-up license plate image and vehicle owner registration information. Officers review the violation video and images via ATS’ secure Axsis™ Violation Processing System. The reviewing officer first will approve or reject the violation. If the officer affirms the violation, he or she will then verify that the license plate matches the vehicle and confirms other vehicle and owner information before authorizing issuance of the citation.
Q: How do I pay a violation?
- There are multiple ways to pay the fine:
- ONLINE: Please refer to your Notice of Liability, where you will find a web address for online payment. The fastest and easiest way to make your payment is online. Once you are on the website, click on the Login or Pay Now button and enter your Notice number and PIN. You also will be able to retrieve a confirmation number for your payment and print a receipt.
- BY MAIL: Your payment must be received before the due date on the front of your Notice of Liability. Mail your check or money order in the envelope enclosed with your Notice. Include the coupon from your Notice. DO NOT MAIL CASH – cash payments will not be accepted. Be sure to put the Notice Number from the front of your Notice on the face of your payment.
- IN PERSON: In some instances, you may be able to pay your fine in person. Please review the payment section of your Notice to see if the option to pay in person is available in your municipality.
Q: How are yellow light times determined?
- Federal guidelines recommend yellow lights last from 3 to 6 seconds, but local authorities set the actual duration using a complex formula that takes into account the speed limit, traffic volume, roadway grade, intersection design and other factors.
Q: How many communities partner with ATS in traffic safety?
With nearly 300 customers and more than 3,500 Road Safety Camera Systems installed and operating throughout the United States and Canada, ATS is the market leader for Red-Light, Speed and School Bus Stop-Arm Safety Cameras.
ATS is also the industry leader in toll and violation management for fleets and rental companies. PlatePass® coverage blankets all major toll regions in North America, complying with in-vehicle transponder and license-plate (video) toll recognition systems throughout the United States and Canada.
Q: Do Red-Light Safety Cameras cause an increase in rear-end collisions?
- Rear-end collisions are caused by speeding, distracted driving and following too closely, not by Red-Light Safety Cameras. Independent research studies and community testimonials show that most communities see no change in the number of rear-end collisions, while many communities have even witnessed a decrease.
- Some studies have shown that the incidence of rear-end collisions can increase following installation of Red-Light Safety Cameras. However, there are many debates surrounding these studies and the validity of their findings.
- Despite such findings, researchers have determined that even when such increases occur, they are consistently offset by larger, more significant decreases in the most deadly type of intersection collision: right-angle crashes. Right-angle crashes are the most prevalent type of fatal intersection crash. FARS data for 2002 (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) revealed that right-angle crashes accounted for 59 percent of fatal crashes at signalized intersections, while rear-end collisions accounted for only 6 percent of fatal crashes.
- A study sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration examined crash rates at intersections with Red-Light Safety Cameras in seven communities. The researchers found that while right-angle crashes at the photo enforced intersections dropped by 25 percent, the frequency of rear-end collisions increased by 15 percent. Despite this increase, however, the Red-Light Safety Cameras yielded a reduction in crash-related costs of more than $18.5 million (excluding property-damage only crashes) as a result of the large decrease in dangerous and costly right-angle crashes.
Q: What services does ATS offer?
- ATS develops, delivers and operates next-generation road safety products and services that reduce the number and severity of preventable crashes by increasing compliance with traffic laws addressing red-lights, school zones, speed limits and school bus safety. ATS also provides advanced, turnkey and customized transportation-related business management solutions and expertise, ensuring successful outcomes for our customers and partners.
- ATS also is the leading provider of toll and violation management solutions for commercial and rental fleets, offering innovative toll and violation management products that save fleets time and money while increasing mobility and convenience for drivers.
Q: What is PlatePass®?
- PlatePass® is an automated Electronic Toll Payment Service that enables commercial fleet drivers and rental car customers to use high-speed, cashless toll lanes to avoid having to stop and pay tolls with cash. The service also provides commercial and rental car fleet managers with centralized controls and payment processing that helps save fleets time and money.
- PlatePass® coverage is available in all major tolling regions, including the E-ZPass region in the Northeast.
- PlatePass® is currently offered by the nation’s largest rental car companies, including Hertz and Advantage, and is available from the leading Fleet Management Companies.
Q: I was involved in a vehicular collision at an intersection with a Road Safety Camera system. How do I obtain a copy of the footage?
- Please submit a request by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the date, time and a brief description of the incident
Q: How do Road Safety Cameras improve traffic safety?
- Multiple studies provide powerful confirmation of the impact Red-Light Safety Cameras have on traffic safety. In a recent study released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, researchers found that the rate of red-light running fatalities in 14 large U.S. cities with Red-Light Safety Cameras was 24% lower than it would have been without the cameras. This finding translated to 159 lives saved over a five-year period. Based on those figures, had all 99 large U.S. cities used Red-Light Safety Cameras, 815 deaths could have been prevented.
Q: Does the law support the use of Road Safety Cameras?
- Multiple court systems throughout the United States have upheld the legality of road safety technology.
- There is no presumption of guilt in a ticket is issued from camera-based evidence. A citation is a summons. All people who receive a citation for running a red light have the opportunity to contest their ticket, just as they can with a traditional traffic ticket.
- This technology is a tool available to law enforcement to ensure that drivers are in compliance with traffic laws while using public streets.
- Court Opinions:
- In 2010, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that speed cameras in Akron, Ohio, did not violate due process, stating, “As the district court found, the ordinance provides for notice of the citation, an opportunity for a hearing, provision for a record of the hearing decision, and the right to appeal an adverse decision. We agree with the district court that the ordinance and its implementation, as detailed in the stipulations, satisfy due process.” Source: Mendenhall v. City of Akron, Nestor Traffic Systems, Inc., (American Traffic Solutions – Intervenor) U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. No. 09-3061 (6th Cir. March 29, 2010).
- The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals addressed the due process argument in 2009 and found Road Safety Cameras did not violate the constitutional right of due process. “Substantive due process depends on the existence of a fundamental liberty interest … and no one has a fundamental right to run a red light or avoid being seen by a camera on a public street,” the court wrote. Source: Idris v. City of Chicago, Illinois. 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Jan. 5, 2009. No. 08-1363.
- According to the 2009 ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, “No one has a fundamental right to run a red light or avoid being seen by a camera on a public street.” Source: Idris v. City of Chicago, Illinois. 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Jan. 5, 2009. No. 08-1363.
- The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the idea that cameras cannot be used to discourage red-light running. “Interest in evading the law cannot create standing – a plaintiff’s complaint that the defendant’s actions will make his criminal activity more difficult lacks standing because his interest is not legally protected,” the court wrote in 2010. Source: Bell v. American Traffic Solutions, Inc. 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, March 23, 2010. No. 09-10722.
- In Katz v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court explained there are limits to one’s legal right to privacy. The court wrote, “What a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection.” Source: Katz v. United States, 389 US 347, 351 (1967).