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Photo Radar and Red Lights

Photo Radar and Red Lights

As part of the traffic safety program, the city has added photo radar to some neighborhoods and school zones and photo red lights at some high-traffic intersections.

Photo enforcement is only used on public streets and photographs are only taken if drivers are violating traffic laws. Both systems are in plain view, either in an unmarked police vehicle parked by the side of the road or in an enclosure mounted on a pole.

Photo Radar

Photo radar is an automated camera system used to enforce speed limits. It includes the camera, an attached radar gun and a display that shows the speed of each passing vehicle. When a speeding vehicle is detected, the photo radar system takes a picture of the driver and the license plate. The registered owner of the vehicle then receives a ticket in the mail. Photo radar is operated in an unmarked vehicle by a specially trained police employee.

Photo Red Light

Running red lights is one of the most frequent causes of accidents at intersections in Boulder. The city has mounted photo red lights with automated camera and computer systems on traffic signal poles at some high-traffic intersections. Photo red lights take pictures of any vehicles that run red lights, record the time elapsed since the light turned red and the vehicle entered the intersection, and issue tickets. The photo red light systems are installed at key Boulder intersections that have a high number of collisions.

Myths and Facts

Myth: A photo radar or photo red light ticket is not valid because it is not issued by a sworn police officer.
Fact: A photo safety citation is a valid traffic ticket and must be paid accordingly.

Myth: Automated photo safety systems use experimental technologies.
Fact: Photo safety technologies have proven to be effective, have been in use for more than 30 years, and are used in more than 45 countries.

Myth: Photo safety systems are an impersonal "big brother" approach to traffic enforcement.
Fact: Driving is a licensed privilege and regulated activity that occurs on a public right-of-way. By obtaining a license, motorists agree to abide by certain rules. Photographs are taken only when traffic laws are violated.

Myth: The goal of the photo radar and red lights is to generate more revenue for the city.
Fact: The goal is to reduce speeding on a variety of streets in Boulder and to reduce red light infractions. To date, the program has cost more to operate than it has generated in fines.

Myth: With a photo radar or photo red light violation, I'm guilty until proven innocent.
Fact: The opposite is true. Photo safety citations differ from traditional citations in one important aspect: alleged violators may view photographic evidence prior to paying their fines or before they appear in court. The photographs must provide the fair and objective evidence necessary to support an allegation of red light running or speeding. Subjectivity is removed from the process.