Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Mar 11, 2022

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Key Takeaways

  • Red light cameras are installed above traffic lights
  • Some traffic sensors are paired with red light cameras to track incoming vehicles
  • Drivers can track streets with red light cameras through a mobile app

Have you ever noticed security cameras on traffic lights? Those aren’t ordinary security cameras – they’re red light cameras. Red light cameras are tools used by law enforcement, but for what purpose?

Although you may have already guessed, our guide explains how these cameras work. We’ll also talk about how red light cameras can affect car insurance quotes.

Read on to learn all about red light cameras and how they look.

What do red light cameras look like?

Red light cameras have different designs. Some of the older red light cameras look like security cameras from the 90s. But they have a built-in surveillance system that can capture your license plate.

Red light cameras are not very effective on vehicles that don’t have a front license plate. Therefore, states that require drivers to have front and back license plates usually have red light cameras on their streets.

Today, red light cameras are more innovative and sleek. Some of them even look like a webcam device, which is about half the size of a small 20-ounce bottle.

What do red light cameras look like in California?

The red light cameras in California are smaller in some areas. Law enforcement says the smaller sizes accommodate for space, but red light cameras’ compact size also makes it hard for drivers to notice it.

What do red light cameras look like in Florida?

The red light camera size in Florida is about the same. However, cities with fewer population numbers may not have the fancy, technologically-advanced cameras you see in bigger cities.

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Which states have red light camera laws?

California and Florida aren’t the only states that have automated enforcement laws. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 21 states and Washington D.C. have a traffic surveillance system.

Here’s a list of states that have red light cameras:

States with Automated Enforcement Law
States with Red Light CamerasStates with Speed CamerasStates that Don't Allow Red Light or Speed CamerasStates that Don't Allow Red Light CamerasStates that Don't Allow Speed Cameras
AlabamaAlabamaMaineMontanaNew Jersey
ArizonaArizonaMississippiSouth DakotaWisconsin
CaliforniaColoradoNew Hampshire
ColoradoGeorgiaSouth Carolina
DelawareIllinoisTexas
FloridaIowaWest Virginia
GeorgiaLouisiana
IllinoisMaryland
IowaNew Mexico
LouisianaNew York
MarylandOhio
MissouriOregon
New YorkPennsylvania
North CarolinaRhode Island
OhioTennessee
OregonWashington
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
Tennessee
Virginia
Washington
The District of Columbia - Washington D.C.
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We included states that allow and don’t allow speed cameras as well. Texas allowed red light and speed cameras until 2019, so you won’t find automated enforcement cameras in Texas today. Nevada allows red light and speed cameras only if the police department operates them.

What do red light cameras look like in 2021 vs. 2020?

Red light cameras in 2021 are similar to the 2022 designs. Cities like to save as much money as possible, so you may see red light cameras with a manufacture date of 2018 or below.

Earlier red light camera models are bigger than the small cameras of 2021. In 2020, some of the red light cameras were the size of small, skinny shoe boxes.

State governments often look for cost-efficient tools to save money while using automated enforcement.

How do red light cameras work?

Red light cameras snap a picture of a driver who runs a red light. The high-speed camera captures the license plate and the vehicle. Law enforcement matches the license plate under the DMV database and sends a ticket to the driver who committed the offense.

How do you know if a red light camera took your picture?

You’ll know that you were caught running a red light when the ticket comes in the mail. You can fight the red light ticket in court, or you can pay the fine listed on the traffic ticket.

Where can I find red light camera locations?

Use your phone to track red light camera locations. Android and Apple iOS have a GPS that alerts you of warning signs on the road.

Check the icons on your GPS when you come to a stop, and you should see red light camera warnings. Be sure to turn up the volume on your phone, so you can hear the automated system warn you about the red light camera.

What happens if you run a red light with no camera?

You won’t have to worry about getting a ticket if you run a red light that doesn’t have a camera. But it doesn’t mean you should.

Running a red light could cause a serious car accident. We recommend that you follow the rules of the road.

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Does running a red light affect my car insurance rates?

Yes, it does. Excessively running a red light can drive up your insurance rates. Car insurance companies want to provide affordable insurance for you, but if you’re constantly running red lights, you’ll be considered a high-risk driver.

Let’s look at an example of how running red lights affects your auto insurance rates:

Car Insurance Rate Increase by Driving Violation
Traffic InfractionsInsurance Rate Increase by Dollar Amount Per MonthInsurance Rate Increase by Percent
Hit and run$10182%
DUI$9174%
Refusal of breathalyzer/chemical test$9174%
Racing$9074%
Reckless driving$8670%
Driving with a suspended license$7762%
At-fault accident$5142%
Driving with an open container$4335%
Operating a car without permission$4033%
Passing a school bus$3327%
Following too closely$2923%
Improper passing$2923%
Driving wrong way/wrong lane$2823%
Failure to stop at a red light$2823%
Failure to yield$2822%
Illegal turn$2823%
Speeding$2823%
Speeding in school zone$2621%
Driving too slowly$2521%
Distracted driving/cell phone violation$2420%
Driving with expired registration$1311%
Failure to show documents$119%
Not-at-fault accident$87%
Failure to use child safety restraint$54%
Failure to wear a seat belt$54%
Driving without lights$43%
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Running a red light could increase your car insurance rates by 23% or up to $28 per month. That could be different at your insurance company. But running a red light is still an unsafe driving habit, and you shouldn’t do it.

What Do Red Light Cameras Look Like: The Bottom Line

Red light cameras come in multiple shapes and sizes, but if you’re driving too fast, you’ll miss them. And thanks to automated enforcement laws, you’ll receive a ticket in the mail for running a red light.

Insurance companies won’t raise your rates as much for one violation, but multiple red light violations could increase your rates. If you want to save money, practice safe driving behaviors.