Automated traffic enforcement is achieved through speed safety cameras and red light cameras. While implementation strategies for these cameras vary widely, automated enforcement is proven to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes. Considerations for automated enforcement include geographical area restrictions, level of automation, degree of visibility, use of revenue, penalties, and equity concerns, among others.
Managing vehicle speed is a critical component of Vision Zero's Safe System approach. Speeding kills close to 10,000 people each year in the U.S. – on par with drunk driving – yet the act of speeding does not carry the same social consequences as drunk driving. One method of prioritizing safe streets is to slow vehicles through the use of automated enforcement or safety cameras. Speed safety cameras have been named a “Proven Safety Countermeasure” by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). This form of automated enforcement is an effective, reliable technology to supplement traditional methods of enforcement, engineering measures, and education to alter the social norms of speeding.
Currently under state law, the use of automated enforcement is prohibited in Kentucky. However, a coalition of legislators, transportation safety advocates, and transportation officials in Kentucky are working to change that, aiming to join over 20 other states that utilize red light cameras, speed safety cameras, or both.
2019: Rep. Reginald Meeks (D-42, resigned 2021) introduced House Bill 507 during the Kentucky General Assembly 2019 Regular Session. The bill, which would have enabled the use of speed safety cameras, did not pass.
2021: Rep. John Blanton (R-92) introduced House Bill 496 during the Kentucky General Assembly 2021 Regular Session. The bill, which would have enabled the use of speed safety cameras in work zones, did not pass.
2022: Sen. Reginald Thomas (D-13) introduced Senate Bill 19 during the Kentucky General Assembly 2022 Regular Session. The bill, which would have enabled the use of red light cameras and established a $50 fine, did not pass out of committee.
2022: Rep. John Blanton (R-92) introduced House Bill 542 during the Kentucky General Assembly 2022 Regular Session. The bill, which would have enabled the use of speed safety cameras in work zones, did not pass. The bill was named in honor of Jared Lee Helton, a native of Salyersville, Ky. who was killed in 2019 while working on I-40 in Tennessee.
2022: Louisville Metro Council passed a resolution supporting state legislation that enables the use of automated enforcement.
2022: Transportation safety advocates and elected officials came together for Louisville's first annual World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, held on November 20 at Iroquois Park. The event served to honor those killed on Louisville's roadways and call for state legislation that enables the use of automated enforcement.
2022: A Mobility Meet Up, hosted by Streets for People, the Taylor/New Cut Network, Southwest Dream Team, and Friends of Bardstown Road, kicked off a community drive for legalization of automated enforcement.
January 2023: Rep. Rachel Roarx (D-38) introduced House Bill 73 at the start of the Kentucky General Assembly 2023 Regular Session. The bill is cosponsored by Rep. George Brown, Jr. (D-77) of Fayette County and Rep. Beverly Chester-Burton (D-44) of Jefferson County. The bill, which would have enabled the use of speed safety cameras and red light cameras, did not pass out of committee.
January 2023: Sen. Reginald Thomas (D-13) introduced Senate Bill 21 during the Kentucky General Assembly 2022 Regular Session. The bill, which would have enabled the use of red light cameras and established a $50 fine, did not pass out of committee. Sen. Thomas filed the bill in 2022, as well.
February 2023: Louisville Metro Government's Center for Health Equity published Improving Public Safety Through Automated Enforcement, a policy brief on the topic. The brief identifies lessons learned from other cities and ways to reduce inequities when implementing an automated enforcement program.
February 2023: Rep. John Blanton (R-92) introduced House Bill 201, a renewed push to legalize speed safety cameras in work zones. The bill is named in honor of Jared Lee Helton, a native of Salyersville, Ky. who was killed in 2019 while working on I-40 in Tennessee. The bill is cosponsored by Rep. Tom Smith (R-86) of southeastern Kentucky and Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo (D-76) of Fayette County.
What are other cities doing?
Over 150 communities across the United States have implemented speed safety camera enforcement. Many of these cities have experienced reductions in excessive speeding and a decrease in fatal and serious injury collisions. Examples of these successful programs include:
• Washington, D.C. experienced a 73% reduction in traffic fatalities (a decrease from 71 deaths in 2001 to 19 deaths in 2012) and a 34% decrease in traffic-related injuries. The percentage of motorists traveling greater than 10 MPH over the speed limit dropped from one in three to one in forty as a result of automated enforcement.
• Portland, OR reported a 46% reduction in traffic fatalities from an average of 56.8 annual traffic deaths before the program's implementation to an average of 30.5 traffic-related deaths as the program has grown. Average and 85th percentile speeds also declined at speed safety camera locations. There was an 85% decrease in the number of drivers exceeding the speed limit by 10 MPH or more.
• Seattle, WA had an overall calming effect on the city reporting a 4% reduction in the average speed of a speeding violation in miles per hour above the posted speed limit
• In New York City, NY in zones where cameras were installed, total crashes declined by 15%, total injuries by 17%, fatalities by 55%, and speeding by 70%. Daily violations at typical camera locations declined over time as drivers started to be mindful of the cameras and drive more responsibly. NYC DOT also found that between 2014-2016, 81% of drivers did not receive more than one violation, further evidence that the cameras created an overall behavioral change.
• Denver, CO curbed excessive speeding by 21% at speed safety camera locations.
• Montgomery, MD experienced a 59% decrease in the likelihood of a driver exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 mph and reported a reduction in fatal or incapacitating injuries by 49% on roads with speed safety cameras.
- Agencies that support automated traffic enforcement
NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts, 2018 https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812932
Vision Zero Network, https://visionzeronetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/What-is-VZ_FIN…
FHWA, Speed Safety Cameras https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/provencountermeasures/speed-safety-cameras…
NHTSA, System Analysis of Automated Speed Enforcement Implementation, April 2016 https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.gov/files/812257_systemanalysisase.pdf
NTSB, Reducing Speeding-Related Crashes Involving Passenger Vehicles, July 2017, Page 41. https://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-studies/Documents/ss1701.pdf
TRB, NCHRP Report 729, Automated Enforcement for Speeding and Red Light Running https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/speedmgt/ref_mats/fhwasa1304/resources2/27%…
IACP, 2002 Resolutions Adopted at the 109th Annual Conference, https://www.theiacp.org/sites/default/files/2018-08/2002Resolutions.pdf
NSA, Aggressive Driving/Speeding Laws & Data, https://www.sheriffs.org/trafficsafety/speeding/laws
NSC, Position/Policy Statement, Support of Automated Enforcement, Sept. 2008 https://www.nsc.org/getattachment/1967cd09-0e5a-4ee5-a7ee-e276fc0a7fbe/…
GHSA, 2018-2019 Policies and Priorities, Automated Enforcement, Page 37, https://www.ghsa.org/sites/default/files/2018-09/policies18.pdf
IIHS, Automated Enforcement Checklist, May 2021 https://www.iihs.org/media/431e551b-3f64-4591-8e30-ad35a069f41f/cF4n4g/…
CDC, Automated Red-Light Enforcement https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/calculator/factsheet/redlight.html
CDC, Automated Speed-Camera Enforcement https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/calculator/factsheet/speed.html
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety https://newsroom.aaa.com/2021/05/safety-groups-create-automated-enforce…
Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety https://saferoads.org/2021/05/06/safety-groups-create-automated-enforce…
NACTO, Automated Enforcement https://nacto.org/publication/city-limits/the-right-speed-limits/corrid…
Vera, Non-Police Responses to Traffic Safety, Aug. 2021 https://www.vera.org/downloads/publications/alternatives-to-policing-tr…
Vision Zero Network, Success Depends on Managing Speed for Safety https://visionzeronetwork.org/resources/safety-over-speed/
Last updated: March 31, 2023