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Differences Between Traffic Cameras, Red Lights, Etc.

Red Light Cameras

Red light cameras are automatic ticket-issuing systems that are placed at traffic intersections to detect when a vehicle runs a red light. Once detected, the red light camera will take pictures of the vehicle and its license plate during the traffic violation and send these to the department of motor vehicles. Red light cameras are generally easy to spot as they are bulky systems and consist of a large box and 2 external flash lights mounted on each end of the intersection. Red light cameras are usually placed at busy intersections as well. This type of traffic camera is quite common in busy intersections since red light running is a serious offense in most areas.

Red light cameras do not issue moving violations or criminal charges and are administrative violations, similar to a parking ticket. Thus, you do not have to be “caught” in the act by an actual police officer to be ticketed.

Speed Cameras

Speed cameras are largely the same thing as red light cameras but instead of monitoring red light violations, they monitor the speed of travel to enforce the speed limit. This type of traffic cameras is typically placed in less populated areas such as back roads or residential areas. Speed cameras also come in two types: fixed and mobile. Fixed speed cameras are usually mounted on poles on the side of the road and are bulky with external flash indicators. Mobile speed cameras can be set up anywhere such as on a tripod or inside a vehicle by a police officer. These setups are moved around by law enforcement often and thus are much more tricky to identify.

Radar detectors can detect fixed speed cameras, but are a lot more difficult to detect mobile speed cameras. In fact, only premium radar detectors that offer MultaRadar (MRCD) detection can identify mobile speed cameras. Our radar detectors brands, Escort and Radenso, offer such capability.

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Traffic Sensor Cameras

Traffic sensor cameras are actually the most common type of cameras on the road. These traffic cameras are passed by motorists on a daily basis and are typically mounted on traffic lights/traffic signals. They are usually small round cameras in a weatherproof housing. The position of these cameras will always be here as red light cameras and speed cameras will never be mounted on top of a traffic signal or a traffic light. Traffic sensor cameras simply measure the traffic flow and also determine traffic light timing, and are thus not a law enforcement system.

Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR)

ANPR cameras are cameras typically at street intersections that can automatically read and analyze license plate numbers. These cameras come in two types: mobile or fixed. Mobile ANPR cameras are typically mounted in a police officer’s vehicle and fixed ANPR cameras are typically mounted on a traffic pole. These are not law enforcement cameras that issue any tickets automatically, but rather are used to track the location of certain vehicles and drivers. ANPR cameras can pull vehicle and driver information from government databases automatically, so police officers use this system commonly as they can leave their radar cameras on in their vehicles.

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