May 22


Enforcement light_Page_2 Following is a summary of Jerry Kotzenmacher's talk at the May 13th NCITE luncheon.  He talked about Mn/DOT's experience with traffic signal enforcement lights. 

Enforcement lights are added to traffic signals to aid the police in catching people who are running red lights.  Many times the police can't park in a good spot to see the red indications at a signal, the stop bar, and a vehicle simultaneously.  Typically, a police officer needs to sit off to the side of the road and radio an officer downstream of the intersection to catch the red light runner.  The indication light is put in a spot so the officer can have a good parking spot and see everything they need to pursue a red light runner.  The light turns on when the red light turns on.  These systems are starting to be used around the United States because they are safer and require less police staff.  It is hoped they will also act as a deterrent if the public knows they are being used.  Mn/DOT tested a system based on the City of Burnsville's request.

A few concerns Jerry brought up regarding the enforcement light.

  • The light is adding more of a power draw to the signal which might trick the conflict monitor.
  • Will the police use them enough to justify the cost?
  • Who will pay for the installation and maintenance (Mn/DOT used a blue LED light – hopefully requiring little maintenance)?
  • Although a red light running ticket given using the system was contested an upheld, use of the system hasn't fully been challenged/validated in the courts.
  • The installation location needs to be coordinated with the police at the intersection to make sure the light will meet their needs.

Mn/DOT will not be installing enforcement lights at every signal in their jurisdiction.  They are open to installing more enforcement lights.  Mn/DOT will review police department requests on a case by case basis. 

  • What is Minnesota’s (or more specifically MnDot’s) policy on red-light running cameras?
    Many jurisdictions in Oregon are using these with pretty successful results. I’m sure cost is probably more but enforcement is all the time and not only when an officer is present.

  • Minneapolis implemented red light running about four years ago and the Minnesota courts struck it down. Minneapolis had impressive before/after safety improvements but the civil liberty argument won the day.

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    Mike Spack

    My mission is to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.

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