Traffic going through a green light.

Information about intersection rules and red light cameras

Running a red light is a bad idea, but in some places it can also mean a surprise ticket.

Why are communities installing red light cameras?

Since law enforcement can’t catch everyone who runs a red light, some communities have mounted cameras on traffic lights to help reduce traffic violations, accidents and injuries.

Research shows that red light cameras are effective as deterrents, especially in lowering the number of the most dangerous light violations, which occur 1.5 seconds after the light turns red. In 2022, many communities in the United States were operating red light traffic camera programs. See if you live in one of them.

How do red light cameras work?

When a vehicle doesn’t stop for a red light, the camera takes a photo or video of the violation, recording the date, time, vehicle information and speed. An officer typically reviews the footage to verify a ticket and the offending driver receives the ticket by mail.

Be warned that if someone claiming to be a police officer calls a driver to demand a fine, it's likely a phone scam. If this happens, do not give out any personal information. Hang up immediately and call the police.

What should I do when approaching a red light?

Running red lights is a serious safety concern for veteran and teen drivers alike. In 2020, it is estimated that 116,000 people were injured and 928 people were killed from crashes involving red-light running.

Red light camera or no camera, always be cautious when approaching red lights.

  • Come to a complete stop before the crosswalk or solid line.
  • Obey the speed limit and slow down early.
  • Never try to beat yellow lights. If you can't stop safely, maintain your speed through the intersection.
  • When turning right on red, come to a complete stop before inching forward to look for gaps in traffic.
  • Yield to pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Even after a light turns green, check in all directions before proceeding into traffic.

What are some of the intersection rules of the road?

Review these safety driving tips to make sure you and your passengers understand the possible dangers of intersections and arrive at your destination safely.

  • When approaching an intersection that isn’t busy, there might not be signs or signals. Yield to the traffic that’s already in the intersection.
  • At busier intersections, STOP or YIELD signs might be in place to give priority or the right-of-way, to traffic on the busier street.
  • If you see a “4-way” or “All-way” tab below a STOP sign, this means that all directions have a STOP sign and everyone should follow the right of way rules. In this case, who has the right of way? The vehicle that arrives first gets to go first. In the event of a tie, the vehicle on the right has the right of way.
  • Vehicles already in a roundabout have the right of way.
  • At the busiest intersections, traffic signals may be used to alternate the right-of-way to each street and maybe even to each direction of traffic.
  • At an intersection when the light has just turned green, look for cars on the crossing street that might be going through a red light.
  • When the light has been green for some time, be ready to slow down in case the light changes to yellow or amber. Take your foot off the gas pedal and cover, but don’t press on, the brake pedal.
  • Yellow or amber lights don’t mean speed up. It means the light is about to turn red, so be prepared to stop.
  • Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable at intersections, so be alert at busy intersections near bus stops, schools, shopping areas or business districts. Like some drivers, pedestrians may be distracted by their mobile devices or other people and may behave erratically or unpredictably.
  • If you arrive at an intersection that has a signal where the electricity has gone out or if you see that the red light is flashing, proceed through that intersection as if all directions had a STOP sign.
  • In all cases, you must yield the right-of-way to emergency vehicles (police, fire, ambulance, etc.) that are at an intersection.

And remember, drive better, save better with Drive Safe & Save® from State Farm®. With Drive Safe & Save, your driving information or telematics, are used to calculate your discount. Contact a State Farm agent today to learn more.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

Discounts may exceed 30% and vary state-to-state (NY capped at 30%). Not available in CA, MA, RI. A discount may not be available in NC depending on individual facts and circumstances. Setup required.

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company
State Farm Indemnity Company
Bloomington, IL

State Farm County Mutual Insurance Company of Texas
Richardson, TX

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