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Speed enforcement detection devices

Evidence Rating

Scientifically Supported

Decision Makers

Speed enforcement detection devices include speed cameras and radar and laser devices. Speed enforcement devices can be permanently placed in a location and operate automatically or can be used manually by law enforcement officers (CDC-Speed camera). Devices may capture instantaneous speeds with a speed camera at a single point or may calculate average speeds using a series of cameras, known as average speed enforcement (). Speed cameras may also be used in a roadway corridor approach by periodically moving them along the length of a road (). Penalties associated with speed violations in an area with speed enforcement detection devices are often more lenient than penalties issued by law enforcement officers (GHSA-Speed cameras).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Reduced fatal and non-fatal injuries

  • Reduced traffic speed

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that speed enforcement detection devices reduce traffic speed, traffic injuries, and fatalities (, , , ).

Speed cameras have been shown to reduce road traffic speed, collisions, injuries, and related casualties (, ). Cameras that are periodically moved along a road as part of a roadway corridor approach () and cameras used for average speed enforcement have been shown to reduce crash injuries and fatalities (). Cameras used for average speed enforcement can also reduce speeds, and may improve traffic flow ().

In an Arizona-based study, speed cameras reduced speeds on municipal streets and arterials (Washington 2007). In a Barcelona-based study, fixed speed cameras reduced crashes and injuries on medium to high speed beltway roads; effects were not significant on lower speed roads or roads with traffic lights ().

Combining speed cameras with vertical features such as speed bumps can produce larger speed reductions than cameras alone (). Visible campaigns about speed camera programs can generate speed reductions beyond targeted streets, often called spillover reductions, particularly if a roadway corridor approach is used ().

France’s automated speed enforcement program (ASEP), which uses fixed speed cameras on highways and urban roads and mobile speed cameras operated by law enforcement officers on rural and urban roads, has been shown to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities for passenger vehicles, motorcycles, and trucks (). Safety Tuto, an automated section speed enforcement system in Italy that determines average speed over a long distance, has also been shown to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities ().

A Barcelona-based cost benefit analysis suggests that speed cameras in urban areas generate positive net benefits ().

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

Twelve states, Washington DC, and the US Virgin Islands use speed cameras for automated enforcement of traffic violations. Thirteen states prohibit this practice and 28 states do not have laws specific to speed cameras (GHSA-Speed cameras).

As of July 2017, 142 US communities have speed camera programs, typically established via state law or city ordinance (IIHS-Automated enforcement).

Implementation Resources

GHSA-Speed cameras - Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). Speed and red light camera laws.

NHTSA-Speed cameras - Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Speed enforcement camera systems operational guidelines. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation (US DOT); 2008.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

Pilkington 2005* - Pilkington P, Kinra S. Effectiveness of speed cameras in preventing road traffic collisions and related casualties: Systematic review. BMJ. 2005;330:331-4.

Cochrane-Wilson 2010* - Wilson C, Willis C, Hendrikz JK, Le Brocque R, Bellamy N. Speed cameras for the prevention of road traffic injuries and deaths. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2010;(11):CD004607.

Mountain 2005* - Mountain LJ, Hirst WM, Maher MJ. Are speed enforcement cameras more effective than other speed management measures? The impact of speed management schemes on 30 mph roads. Accident Analysis & Prevention. 2005;37(4):742–54.

Washington 2007 - Washington S, Shin K, van Schalkwyk I. Evaluation of the city of Scottsdale loop 101 photo enforcement demonstration program: Final report AZ-684. Phoenix: Arizona Department of Transportation (DOT); 2007.

Novoa 2010* - Novoa AM, Pérez K, Santamariña-Rubio E, Marí-Dell’Olmo M, Tobías A. Effectiveness of speed enforcement through fixed speed cameras: A time series study. Injury Prevention. 2010;16(1):12–6.

Mendivil 2012* - Mendivil J, García-Altés A, Pérez K, Marí-Dell’Olmo M, Tobías A. Speed cameras in an urban setting: A cost-benefit analysis. Injury Prevention. 2012;18(2):75–80.

Soole 2013* - Soole DW, Watson BC, Fleiter JJ. Effects of average speed enforcement on speed compliance and crashes: A review of the literature. Accident Analysis and Prevention. 2013;54:46-56.

Hu 2016* - Hu W, McCartt AT. Effects of automated speed enforcement in Montgomery County, Maryland, on vehicle speeds, public opinion, and crashes. Traffic Injury Prevention. 2016;17(Suppl 1):53-58.

Blais 2015* - Blais E, Carnis L. Improving the safety effect of speed camera programs through innovations: Evidence from the French experience. Journal of Safety Research. 2015;55:135-145.

Montella 2012* - Montella A, Persaud B, D’Apuzzo M, Imbriani L. Safety evaluation of automated section speed enforcement system. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board. 2012;2281:16-25.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

GHSA-Speed cameras - Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). Speed and red light camera laws.

IIHS-Automated enforcement - Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI). Red light running: Automated enforcement. 2017.

Date Last Updated

Jul 25, 2017