Red-light cameras are vital in reducing road accidents, and these cameras enforce red-light and speeding offences. Red light camera offences are dealt with under the Road Ruse 2014 (NSW) and the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) in New South Wales. In addition, regulation 56 of the Road Rules 2015 stipulates to run a red light is an offence.
More than 200 red-light cameras are installed at intersections throughout New South Wales to enforce red-light offences. NSW red light camera rules are strictly enforced, and red light camera offences carry a hefty fine and the accrual of three demerit points, more so in a school zone. Despite the hefty fines, red light cameras generate millions of dollars in fines for the State Government.
The goal of red light cameras is to reduce road trauma. If a driver speeds, it increases the risk of a crash, serious injury, or even death. Crashes at intersections are sometimes more severe and find drivers and passengers vulnerable to side impacts. Pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists are also at risk at busy intersections, and they can sustain serious injuries, or even worse, death on impact.
The NSW Centre for Road Safety found in the 2018 Speed Camera Review that the installation of traffic light cameras made intersections safer than in previous years. The following statistics were presented:
· 38% reduction in fatal and serious injury crashes
· 74% reduction in fatalities
· 40% reduction in serious injuries
· 48% reduction in pedestrian casualties
The revenue raised from fines is given to the NSW Community Road Safety Fund. These funds are used to fund road safety projects such as engineering works, public education campaigns, and community grants.
Red light and speeding camera offences are strict liability offences, and the prosecution only needs to prove the driver committed the offence, not that the driver intended to commit the offence.
A driver can be caught in several ways whilst running a red light:
A driver can be fined for the following offences:
· Failing to stop at a red light or a red arrow
· Proceeding through a red light
· Proceeding through a red traffic arrow
· Proceeding through a bicycle storage area before the red traffic light or red traffic arrow
· Failing to stop for twin red lights (except at level crossings)
Red light cameras or red light speed cameras are fully automated and function as law enforcement tools in NSW. Red light cameras detect vehicles that run a red light or exceed the speed limit 24 hours a day. The camera constantly detects and records speeding, whether the traffic light is red, amber, or green.
The red light speed cameras use vehicle tracking radar or sensors embedded in the surface of the road to detect and record a vehicle’s speed. These sensors accurately measure the speed of a vehicle and the vehicle’s location when the traffic lights change to red.
There are two ways a driver can trigger the red light speed camera at an intersection:
· The red light speed camera measures the vehicle’s speed and will trigger if the driver exceeds the signposted speed limit and
· The red light camera will trigger when the vehicle crosses the stop line or enters the intersection after the lights have turned red. The lines trigger the camera.
The cameras are programmed to photograph the rear of any vehicle travelling over the white stop line 0.3 seconds after the lights have turned red. A digital photograph will also be taken if the speed of the vehicle exceeds the legal limit. The camera will not be triggered if a vehicle crosses the stop line on amber or green lights.
The digital photograph captures the offence and records the following information:
· The time and the date of the offence
· The location details of the camera
· The direction the vehicle travelled in
· The speed of the offending vehicle
· The speed limit on the particular road
· The specific lane in which the vehicle was travelling
Red light speed cameras monitor multiple lanes on a particular road making it impossible for vehicles to avoid detection. Vehicles will be detected even if there are several vehicles on the road or close by.
Red light cameras are not installed at all the intersections. The locations of red light cameras or red light speeding cameras are based on crash statistics. The dual purpose cameras are known as safety camera. These cameras are installed at intersections known for their high crash history or at intersections with the potential of severe crashes, or in sections where road workers, pedestrians, and other road users may be most at risk. The community has the opportunity to suggest a location for a speed camera on the Safer Roads NSW website. The locations for all the red light cameras around the state are listed on the Centre for Road Safety website.
Signposting at intersections alerts drivers that red light speed cameras are installed and operational. The intersections with red light speed camera enforcement are signposted with red light speed camera signs. These signs display an image, the applicable speed limit, and the text “Red light speed camera ahead”. Red light speed cameras can be installed in school zones. Drivers who are caught by a red light speeding camera running a red light or speeding during school times in a school zone will receive an increased penalty.
Red light cameras and red light speed cameras in NSW are subject to a full evaluation and testing procedure to ensure accuracy and reliability before installation. Transport experts inspect every camera system to verify its accuracy and proper operation before instalment, and regular checks are scheduled at specific intervals.
Roads and Maritime Service experts inspect the cameras every 30 days, the camera recording device has to be calibrated every 90 days, and the speed-measuring device at least every 12 months under Section 137 of the Road Transport Act 2013 and Clause 35 of the Road Transport Regulation 2013. An inspection has to follow any maintenance or repair on either of these devices.
Revenue NSW reviews all the red light traffic camera digital images, and they will only take enforcement action when the image clearly shows that a vehicle has proceeded through a red light at an intersection. The original digital photograph or image is stored digitally and it cannot be altered or overwritten. Security measures are in place to prevent any attempts to tamper with the image at any stage. The images and the information are encrypted. The original image can, according to legislative requirements, be presented in Court as evidence with the appropriate evidentiary certificates signed by an authorised person.
Triggering a red-light camera will result in a speeding fine, a red light fine, or both. Two penalty notices will be issued if a vehicle is detected both speeding and running a red light. Demerit points will also be recorded for both offences and double demerits will apply for speeding offences during long weekends and holiday periods.
The driver will receive an infringement notice in the mail when caught by a red light camera or a red light speeding camera. This notice is sent by Revenue NSW, and a driver will usually receive the notice within 28 days of the offence. The driver will also receive an automatic payment confirmation or reminder by email or mobile phone if Revenue NSW has these details. A driver can also check if they have any outstanding infringements on the Service NSW app.
The fine for running a red light or going through a red light varies. In NSW fines are calculated using the penalty units set out in the legislation. The driver will lose three demerit points’ under rules 56, 57, 59, and 60 of the Road Rules 2014 (NSW).
Speeding fines can vary and depend on the number of kilometres the driver drove over the speed limit.
The following table clearly outlines the different red light offences as per the Road Rules 2012 (NSW) and it lists the demerit points and the fine an offender will get:
Road Rules 2014 (NSW)
Red Light Offences
Demerit Points NSW
Not stopping at the stop line at red light
Not stopping at the stop line at red light-toll booth
Not stopping before the stop sign at red light
Not stopping before the stop sign at red light-toll booth
Not stopping before lights at red light
Not stopping before lights at red light-toll booth
Not stopping at the stop line at red arrow
Not stopping before stop sign at red arrow
Not stopping before lights at red arrow
Proceed through red traffic light
Proceed through red traffic light (camera detected)
Proceed through red traffic light-toll booth
Proceed through red traffic arrow
Not leaving intersection after light/arrow goes red/yellow
Not giving way at lights to pedestrian on road
Not giving way at lights to other vehicles (left turn)
Not giving way at lights to other pedestrians (left turn)
Not giving way at lights to oncoming vehicles (right turn)
Failure to pay a fine can result in a suspension or cancellation of a person’s driver’s licence, cancellation of vehicle registration, Court orders, Community Court orders, or even imprisonment.
All fines for red light cameras and speeding offences are directed to the Community Road Safety Fund. The funds are utilised for road safety initiatives, including engineering works, enhanced enforcement by the NSW Police Force, public education campaigns, and community grants.
A driver can view the photograph of the offence online if they think the red light camera fine was issued erroneously. If a driver believes that a fine was issued in error, or if they have extenuating circumstances for the offence, they can request Revenue NSW to review the fine. The driver has to request the review within 28 days of receiving notice of the offence. Revenue NSW can reduce the fine, cancel the fine or keep the fine intact as per the notice of the offence.
The driver can then decide to take the matter to Court to contest the finding of a fine or to ask for leniency for a hefty fine. It is advisable to acquire the services of an experienced traffic offence lawyer to assist with the proceedings in the Local Court. A traffic offence lawyer will request a review of the fine and/ or explain the alleged offence to Revenue NSW.
Suppose the defence decides to take the matter to Court. In that case, the defence will have to present evidence such as the digital photograph of the offence, eyewitness reports, and the driver’s record if the matter is taken to Court. The Court will decide whether the original charges and fines will stand or not.
Extenuating circumstances for leniency can be:
The matter will be dealt with differently if a driver asks for leniency. The driver may avoid accumulating demerit points and paying a hefty fine, and this could be the difference between keeping and losing a driver’s licence.
The lawyers at Lyons Law Group have extensive experience representing clients with red light camera leniency appeals.