While red light cameras have been around for quite some time, innovative new speed cameras are starting to appear more often in the U.S. as well. Transit enforcement authorities will use electronic means to catch a driver speeding and automatically issue that driver a ticket.
There are all kinds of different methods for deploying speed cameras. However they’re set up, they capture pictures and instantly record speed for all passing cars. The information is processed and filed on the spot so that it goes directly to a supervisor to look at the pictures and verify the infraction.
This means you could get the ticket as soon as just a few days later, or it could take multiple weeks, depending on how long it takes to mail it to the address associated with your license plate.
How Do Speed Cameras Work?
Speed cameras aren’t very common yet in the United States, and they might not even be legal where you are, depending on your state. The tickets coming from “red-light running” cameras also don’t usually work quite the same way as tickets issued directly by a police officer. They generally don’t go on your official record and don’t affect your insurance.
Some cameras, usually in school zones, will be clearly marked. Others, however, may be hidden or even moved around over time. This makes it more unpredictable and harder to avoid. You can’t sneak around a hidden camera in the same way you can react to a police car.
Speed cameras in New York use police radar technology to check your speed as you go by. If your speed is more than ten miles over the limit, the camera will take multiple pictures of your car and the license plate.
A human official or a sophisticated program can then verify that you are speeding by checking the pictures. Cameras will take pictures at several points along the road so that police can measure the amount of time it took the car to cover that distance and assess your speed.
Do They Make Roads Safer?
Speed cameras may seem like an aggressive police tactic to some people, but it also reduces the need for actual interaction with police officers. Cities are using these cameras to try to increase safety and stop serious accidents from happening, so they are putting speed cameras in especially dangerous and sensitive areas.
In places like New York City, statistics show that crashes that cause injuries declined by nearly 15% when cameras were installed. Another side effect of these cameras is a big increase in tickets overall, especially at the beginning. This means more income for the city, for better or for worse, although drivers probably get used to it and start to slow down over time.
Dealing with a Ticket
Tickets issued by speed cameras generally include fines no higher than $50 or $75. This isn’t as bad as other speeding tickets can be, but it can still be a significant cost. If you believe you’ve received a ticket in error, you can dispute it to try to have it dismissed. Don’t be afraid to seek legal help if you think you are being mistreated or taken advantage of.