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Differences Between Traffic Cameras, Red Lights, Etc.

SMILE! You are on camera more than you think. Red-light cameras, traffic cameras, and more are out there, watching your speed on the road. Even license plate readers can get your plate number when you stop at an intersection. So what should you be looking out for on the roadway?

Red Light Cameras

I'm sure you have seen red light cameras discussed on television shows.

"Suspect's vehicle was last seen driving through the red light at the intersection of Main and Mulberry at approximately 6:13 pm."

The philosophy behind the red light camera is that when a vehicle runs the red light, photographs are taken before, during, and after the traffic violation. These photographs show the driver, the infraction, and the license plate of the vehicle. Red light cameras are also automatic ticket-issuing systems. If you get caught on one, expect to get your ticket in the mail. Don't worry. You can have your day in court to object.

What to look for: A bulky system that consists of a large box with two external flashlights mounted on each end of an intersection. You can find most of these cameras within busy intersections in the city, so I wouldn't be too concerned about coming across one in a rural area.

Traffic Sensor and Speed Cameras

Traffic sensor cameras are not a law enforcement item. They are usually mounted on traffic lights or signals to help monitor the traffic and help determine the lights' timing. These cameras are typically positioned on the traffic light or signal. In contrast, the red light camera or speed camera will not be.

Speed cameras work in many the same ways that red light cameras work, but instead of monitoring the red light violations, they monitor and enforce speed. Speed cameras are often placed in less populated areas such as back roads or residential areas.

Speed cameras can be fixed or mobile. Fixed cameras are mounted on poles, but mobile ones are set up by law enforcement and can be moved.

Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR)

ANPR cameras are often found in intersections that can automatically read and analyze the license plate numbers from a vehicle. Like speed cameras, these come in mobile and fixed versions. These are not cameras used for ticket issuance but for tracking the locations of certain vehicles and drivers. These ANPR cameras can pull vehicle and driver information from government databases. These are commonly used by law enforcement as they can leave their radar cameras on in their cruisers.

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Not sure if dash cams and radar detectors are legal in your area? We have an article on that, too! Learn about the laws and guidelines in your province and when crossing the border.

Fun Fact!

Radar detectors, like the Escort Max 360C Radar Detector can detect fixed speed cameras and its MultaRadar (MRCD) can identify mobile speed cameras, too!