Red Light Cameras
Frequently Asked Questions


Why is the Arlington Police Department proposing red light traffic cameras?
Traffic cameras are an effective tool in reducing red light violations, which cause hundreds of wrecks each year. Since 2003, red light violations were a causative factor in more than 1,500 major accidents and 6 fatalities citywide. Statistics have proven that cameras at traffic lights can positively affect driving behavior. Since Garland began using cameras, crashes caused by red light violators have dropped 50%, and crashes citywide have dropped 30%. Arlington citizens routinely cite traffic concerns as a high priority. While such cameras are clearly not a replacement for police officers, their use is part of comprehensive approach to help keep the driving public safe.

Where is the process?
On May 24, 2006, Police Chief Theron Bowman provided an update to the Arlington City Council on police issues. He received unanimous support from the Mayor and Council to proceed with a photo enforcement project. Plans are to have a fully operational system by spring 2007.

Which intersections are being proposed for red light camera monitoring?
The Police Department identified the top 10 intersections where wrecks occurred because of red light violations. From 2000 to 2005, 445 collisions occurred at these 10 locations, meaning that on average, one major accident occurs at one of these 10 intersections every 4 days. See the map at the end of the document for the intersections, which are:



Major Accidents
Since 2001

1 N. Watson Rd. at Six Flags Dr. 73
2 S. Watson Rd. at E. Abram St. 58
3 S. Cooper St. at W. Interstate 20 52
4 N. Watson Rd. at E. Randol Mill 47
5 S. Cooper St. at W. Pioneer Parkway (303) 44
6 S. Watson Rd. at E. Park Row 43
7 S. Cooper St. at Americana 40
8 W. Pioneer Pwy. at Matlock Rd. 35
9 S. Cooper St. at Pleasant Ridge 27
10 N. Watson Rd. at Brown Blvd. 26
Total All Locations 445

Are these the only intersections that will have red light cameras?
These 10 proposed intersections represent 3% of Arlington's 307 signal-controlled intersections. "Best practices" indicate utilizing cameras at no more than 6% of a city's controlled intersections. The city could decide to add cameras or move them to other locations where additional enforcement is needed.

How do the cameras work?
When the photo enforcement system detects that a vehicle has crossed the stop line after the traffic signal has turned red, one photo is taken. A second photo is taken after the vehicle enters the intersection.

Do the cameras take a picture of the driver?
No. The cameras take a photo of the vehicle's license plate. Some vendors allow the registered owner to view the photographs or a short video of the violation.

Citations are mailed to the registered owner of the violating vehicle. What if the person driving at the time of the offense is not the registered owner?
The owner may contest the ticket through an appeal process. Registered owners who have sold their vehicle but not yet changed registration records may also "nominate" the individual who purchased the vehicle to receive the citation.

How long does it take for a citation to be processed and mailed?
Generally, citations are mailed to the registered owner's address of record within 7-10 days of the violation. If a forwarding address is known, the citation will be forwarded.

What happens if the registered owner does not pay the fine?
Violations at a photo-enforced intersection are considered civil. This means that no warrants are issued and nothing is captured on the driving record. Most cities set the fine at $75 with payment due within 25 days of the issue date (vs. $230 if an officer issues a citation for a red light violation). Additional fees may be assessed if the citation is appealed but the registered owner is found liable, if a hearing is set and the registered owner does not appear, or if the fees are not paid in full within 90 days. After 90 days, the debt is usually turned over to a collection agency.

What if a car enters an intersection on a red light at the direction of an emergency vehicle?
All violations are reviewed by an officer to verify the validity of the citation prior to issue. Citations will not be issued if cars enter intersections at the direction of an emergency vehicle or a police officer.

What if there is a technological malfunction with the camera equipment?
Computer systems are not infallible. The vendor will be responsible for the reliability, maintenance and regular testing of the equipment. Any citations issued in error during times of malfunction will be dismissed.

Can the vendor shorten the length of the yellow light to result in more violations?
No. Traffic lights are maintained by the City of Arlington. Traffic light timings are determined by a formula based on several factors including speed limits on the road. Traffic lights cannot be manipulated by a vendor.

Doesn't lengthening the duration of the yellow light reduce crashes?
The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) has developed standards to determine yellow light duration times based on many factors (geometry, traffic speeds, etc.). The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety conducted a study and reported a 12% reduction in injury crashes at intersections that changed the yellow light duration to conform to ITE standards. Arlington's traffic signals already conform to ITE standards. This study also noted that when yellow lights are lengthened too much, more violations occur.

Can Photo Enforcement Systems cause an increase in rear-end crashes?
Some cities have reported an increase in minor rear-end crashes caused by drivers following too closely behind motorists stopping for a red light at photo-enforced intersections. The Texas Transportation Institute recommends displaying clear signage and conducting an extensive educational campaign to help prevent this problem. The increase is usually temporary as more motorists comply with all traffic laws (including following at safe distances) and the crashes are relatively minor when compared with the severity of right-angle crashes.

What other traffic initiatives does the Arlington Police Department have to reduce injury and fatality wrecks?
- "Decoy" cars used alternately with staffed traffic units to slow traffic on major highways
- Traffic officer schedules adjusted to provide more enforcement during night and weekend hours when most fatality accidents occur
- School Resource Officers will supplement Traffic Unit efforts during summer
- Spring DWI Task Force: May 22 - June 17
- TxDOT Click-It or Ticket Grant will provide additional enforcement during Memorial Day weekend
- Good Driver Reward Program scheduled for summer

Top 10 Crash Intersections Involving Red Light Violations
Arlington 2001 - 2005