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City of Hamilton – Public Work

Red Light Cameras

1.  What is red light running?

It is illegal and unsafe for a motorist to enter a signalized intersection after the signal light has turned red. This behaviour is termed "red light running". 

2.  Is red light running a problem? 

Red light running is one of several aggressive driving behaviours that contribute to the annual toll of collisions and injuries at intersections in Ontario. In Hamilton-Wentworth, red light running resulted in about 350 collisions at signalized intersections in 2001. Since 1997, in Hamilton-Wentworth, approximately 950 people have been injured and 5 persons have died in collisions caused by motorists running a red light. One-quarter of fatalities at signalized intersections in the region are attributed to red light running. The cost to society of red light running collisions in the region has been approximately $40 million over the past five years. 

3.  How often do drivers run red lights? 

Measurements at test sites in Hamilton-Wentworth found from 10 to 50 violations per day at some intersections. 

4.  Why are red light cameras being used? 

Red light camera enforcement in conjunction with public awareness can modify driving behaviour and has been shown to reduce red light violations and intersection collisions. Victoria, Australia, began using cameras at traffic signal intersections in 1983 and a subsequent report found a 32 per cent decrease in right-angle collisions and a 10 per cent reduction in injuries after the cameras were installed. An evaluation of red light camera enforcement in Oxnard, California, found that within four months of camera implementation, red light violation rates decreased 42 per cent. Increases in driver compliance were not limited to camera-equipped sites but spilled over to non-equipped intersections as well. 

5.  Do red light cameras replace police officers at intersections? 

No. Red light cameras do not replace police officers. The red light cameras are being used to complement police efforts in preventing motorists from running a red light.

6.  Do the cameras photograph every vehicle passing through an intersection? 

No. The cameras are set so that only those vehicles that enter an intersection after the light has turned red are photographed. Vehicles that enter on the green or amber are not photographed.  

7.   What if I am making a left turn and the light turns red when my vehicle is still in the intersection?

Motorists already in an intersection when the signal changes to red (when waiting to turn, for example) are not red light runners. 

8.  Does someone review the photographs before motorists are ticketed? 

Yes, trained officers will review every picture to verify vehicle information and to ensure that the vehicle is in violation. Tickets are mailed to vehicle owners only in cases where it is clear that the vehicle ran the red light. 

9.  Who receives a ticket for running a red light detected by a camera system? 

The registered license plate holder receives the ticket, regardless of who was driving the vehicle. 

10.  What are the penalties for running a red light based on evidence obtained by a camera system? 

The set fine for running a red light detected by a camera system is $260.00, plus a $60.00 victim surcharge and $5.00 for costs for a total of $325.00.

11.  What is the penalty for running a red light if caught by a police officer? 

The set fine for running a red light when caught by a police officer is $260.00, plus a $60.00 victim surcharge and $5.00 for costs for a total of $325.00. Failing to stop for a red light where a police officer issues a ticket results in three demerit points.

12.  Where do the fines go?

Hamilton-Wentworth recently assumed responsibility for Court Administration and Court Support Services. As a result, Provincial Offences Act fines (excluding the victim surcharge) for moving violations are now received by the municipality. The group of moving violations includes red light running. 

13.  Do red light cameras violate privacy? 

In consultation with the Privacy Commissioner, every attempt has been made to minimize capturing members of the public in the photos. In the event that members of the public are inadvertently captured on film, it will not be possible to identify them from the photos included on the tickets. 

14.  What is the cost of a red light camera? 

A red light camera costs about $100,000.  The supplier is ACS State and Local Solutions (previously Lockheed Martin IMS).

15.  Who supplies the cameras? How big are the cameras? What is their location relative to the intersection?

The system supplier was Lockheed Martin IMS Canada. The camera is an industrial 35-mm camera, manufactured particularly for unattended operation in an outdoor environment. The cameras are housed in a ½ metre x ½ metre x ½ metre enclosure and are mounted on a pole, 20 metres in advance of the intersection. They are mounted approximately 3.6 metres above the ground. 

16.  What other places use red light cameras? 

Photographic detection devices are used extensively in many other countries including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United States. In Canada, cameras are used in British Columbia and Alberta.  In Ontario, the pilot project includes Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, Peel, Waterloo and Halton.

To reach the Traffic Operations and Engineering section, call 546-2424 ext. 4376 or email us at