Does Running a Red Light Impact Auto Insurance Rates?
Last Updated on February 12, 2021
Red light cameras can be found across the United States. Every year, thousands of drivers receive red light camera tickets in the mail.
Do red light camera tickets impact auto insurance rates? Or will your insurance premiums stay the same after getting a red light ticket?
Generally, red light camera tickets do not impact your car insurance rates. The ticket is mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. However, there’s no way of determining who was behind the wheel at the time of the infraction, so the ticket isn’t tied to a specific person’s driving record.
For that reason, most insurers will not raise rates after a red light infraction.
How Do Red Light Camera Tickets Work?
Drivers running red lights kill hundreds of people every year and injure many more. To reduce red light-related crashes, many cities have implemented red light ticket cameras.
Most of these traffic cameras work in a simple way: they’re activated when you run a red light. If a driver is driving through an intersection when the light is already red, then the traffic camera will flash. The camera reads the license plate, then sends a ticket to the driver in the mail. The driver pays the fine, and the ticket disappears.
Some traffic cameras also watch for speeding: they automatically capture anyone going through an intersection at a high speed, for example, and send that person a speeding ticket.
Red Light Camera Tickets Should Not Impact Insurance Rates
In most states, red light camera tickets will not impact insurance rates. Red light camera tickets generally do not add points to your driving record, and they should not cause an insurer to raise rates.
However, a handful of states treat red light camera tickets just like a normal red light traffic violation (issued by a police officer). California, Oregon, and Arizona, for example, have strict penalties for red light camera violations. Points will be added to your record, and your premiums may increase.
Outside of these three states, however, it’s unlikely for red light cameras to significantly impact insurance rates.
A red light camera ticket is a moving violation. You were driving your vehicle (“moving”) at the time of the incident. Typically, a moving violation like a speeding ticket will impact car insurance premiums.
However, red light camera tickets are unique because the camera may only capture the license plate on the front or back of the vehicle. It can be difficult to determine the driver of the vehicle. Yes, the vehicle is registered to you, and the ticket is sent to your registered address. However, the ticket may not be tied to your personal driving record.
Some Insurers Raise Insurance Rates After a Red Light Ticket
Running a red light is a serious infraction. It’s a high-risk behavior that significantly increases the risk of an accident.
Ultimately, whether or not your insurer raises your premiums after a red light ticket is up to the insurer. Most insurers will not raise premiums after a single ticket, although other insurers will take any excuse to raise insurance premiums.
Running a Red Light Can Still Raise Insurance Rates
Running a red light is a serious traffic violation. A red light camera ticket is unlikely to raise insurance premiums. However, a red light ticket from a police officer will almost certainly raise premiums.
If you run a red light and a police officer pulls you over, then you could have points on your driving record. Having points on your record will almost certainly raise insurance premiums.
Do Red Light Cameras Reduce the Risk of Accidents? Research is Inconclusive
Red light cameras can be found in approximately half of all states in America. However, ten states have banned red light cameras entirely.
Red light cameras are controversial. Supporters argue that red light cameras reduce the risk of fatal accidents and injuries. Statistics show that T-bone collisions and right-angle crashes decrease after cities implement red light cameras.
However, statistics also show a hidden side effect of red light cameras: red light cameras increase the risk of rear-end collisions at intersections. Drivers might slam on the brakes at an intersection to avoid a red light ticket, only to have the driver behind slam into the bumper, causing serious injury.
In some studies, the rise in rear-end collisions is almost equal to the decrease in T-bone and right-angle crashes.
A 2005 study by the Federal Highway Administration found a decrease in right-angle and T-bone crashes at intersections with red light cameras, for example, along with an increase in rear-end collisions.
A study by the Chicago Tribune, meanwhile, found that red light cameras reduced T-bone crashes by 15%, despite the fact that Chicago City Hall claimed a reduction of 40%. That same study found that red light cameras increased rear-end crashes with injuries by 22%. The Chicago Tribune later revealed a $2 million bribery scandal leading the city to cut ties with its red light camera vendor.
For all of these reasons, red light cameras continue to be controversial. Some claim red light cameras are a cash grab by police organizations and cities across the country. Others say red light cameras are a proven way to reduce accidents.
Red Light Cameras and Car Insurance
Red light camera ticket treatment will vary across the country. In some states, cities are forbidden from issuing fines from red light cameras. In other states, drivers receive points on their record for red light camera violations.
- In Colorado, red light camera tickets have a maximum fine of $75 and no points; a traditional red light ticket has a maximum fine of $110 and four points
- In Illinois, red light camera tickets have a maximum fine of $100 with no points; a traditional red light ticket has a maximum fine of $500 and 20 points
- Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, New York, Ohio, and Virginia allow red light camera tickets, although insurers are prohibited from using red light camera tickets to impact insurance premiums
- Arizona, California, and Oregon have the strictest red light camera violation policies; all three states treat red light camera tickets the same as traditional red light tickets, with fines of $100 to $1,000 and points added to your record
If points are added to your record, then you can expect insurance premiums to increase. If points are not added to your record and you’re just paying a fine, then your insurance should stay the same.
Final Word on Red Light Tickets and Insurance
The first red light cameras were introduced more than 20 years ago. Today, red light traffic cameras can be found in approximately half of all states.
Supporters argue that red light cameras reduce the risk of car accidents. They discourage drivers from running red lights. Critics, however, claim that red light cameras decrease certain accidents – although they increase the risk of rear-end collisions at intersections because of sudden stops.
Fortunately, most drivers will not pay higher insurance premiums after receiving a red light ticket. If points are added to your license from a red light traffic ticket (as is the case in Arizona, California, and Oregon), however, then you might face higher insurance premiums.