Red Light Traffic Cameras

With the ever increasing traffic cameras, traffic light cameras or red light cameras appearing in the UK, it’s becoming a challenge in itself to avoid a fine, let alone drive safely.

It’s often argued that the use of cameras causes more accidents than it does prevent and many ‘innocent’ motorists get caught by cameras through a simple mistake, all of which we make.

The fact is, if they save even a few lives, then it is worth it. If however you have been mistakenly issued a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) or a summons, it is worth understanding your rights.

Traffic light UK rules

A red traffic light as we know means stop. Red and amber lights also mean stop. The only time a motorist is permitted to continue is on a green. If the amber light is illuminated, a motorist must also stop, but may continue only if they have crossed the white stop line. You may also continue on an amber light if you are so close to the stop line that it is likely you may cause an accident.

Red light camera tickets

Failing to stop at a red light or as its referred to in law terms ‘Failing to comply with traffic light signals’, offence code: TS10 – will see you issued with a fixed penalty of £100, plus 3 penalty points on your licence. If court action is taken however, the fine can reach a maximum of £1000, though this is means tested. Red light traffic cameras are usually located a junction where accidents are frequent or at yellow box junctions.

Red light traffic camera
Cameras are appearing in greater numbers on UK roads

Reasons for running a red light

The law only allows a vehicle to proceed over the white line through a red light if directed to do so by a police officer who is officially directing traffic. Below are frequent reasons that motorists run a red light.

  • Driving too fast
    A driver may for example be driving too fast for the weather conditions, brake for the red light which results in skidding past the white stop line. This would clearly demonstrate a clear lack of control of the vehicle and result in prosecution.
  • Running a red light to avoid a potential accident
    A driver could be approaching the lights for example, the lights change but the driver continues due to the vehicle behind driving excessively close. Again, this is driver error. If a vehicle behind is driving too close, you should gently slow down before approaching any hazard to take into account the need to stop and to provide the vehicle behind with sufficient time to stop.
  • Stopping on or slightly over the white stop line
    A driver may argue that they stopped for the light slightly too late. Their wheels stopped on the line or just over the line. Legally, any part of the car, not just the wheels that are over the stop line is an offence.

Another example could be that a driver has stopped before the line, but their car rolled forward or jumped forward slightly. In any case, whether accidentally or not, it still remains driver error and a prosecution would ensue

Mitigating circumstances for running a red light

In most cases, there are very few mitigating circumstances for running a red light. One reason is allow an emergency vehicle to pass if it has no alternative route. It is an offence to hinder the progress of an emergency vehicle responding to emergency circumstances and can in itself result in a fine of up to £5000.

Traffic light failure would provide mitigating circumstances also, although it is advisable to gain as much evidence as possible to suggest you had no option to continue due to light failure and that you proceeded with extreme caution.

Other driving offences explained

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