Safety cameras

Why do we have safety cameras?

International research clearly shows that safety cameras change driver behaviour and have a positive road safety impact.

Police and safety camera enforcement of safer speeds and running of red lights at intersections is a crucial part of reducing death and serious injuries on our roads.

Safety cameras are placed in high risk locations where officer enforcement may not be possible for a variety reasons like road layout and the safety of drivers and officers.

Running red lights at intersections is a road risk that nobody should take. There were 257 fatal and 2,882 serious injury crashes at intersections from 2011 to 2015.

Of those, nine were fatal crashes and 141 were serious injury crashes caused by a driver running a red or an amber light.

The number of crashes is substantially reduced when static cameras are used. A study of crash data in the 20 months following the introduction of static cameras in New Zealand in 1993 found a 23% reduction in fatal and serious crashes at urban static camera sites and an 11% reduction in fatal and serious crashes at rural static camera sites.

Speed remains one of the main factors for people dying on New Zealand roads. International research shows that by reducing your speed, the severity of a crash can be significantly reduced – and in many cases avoided.

Increased speed, regardless of vehicle type, puts vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists at greater risk. For them, drivers stopping at red lights and even a small reduction in vehicle speed could save their life.

But Police and safety cameras can’t do it alone. Road safety is everyone’s responsibility.

What equipment is being used to enforce speed and red light running on our roads?

New Zealand’s road safety camera network consists of both static (fixed) and mobile cameras placed at carefully chosen locations throughout the road network.

There are three types of safety cameras currently operating:

  • Static (fixed) cameras – The camera and a flash unit are mounted on a single pole that has a footprint of about half a square metre along the roadway. These cameras use a dual radar system. Signals from the radars reflect off vehicles and back to the camera. One radar identifies speeding vehicles by measuring vehicle speed three times in quick succession and taking the middle speed. The second radar identifies the lane the vehicle is in and double-checks the speed reading. If the vehicle is speeding, the camera takes a picture. The camera is also able to differentiate between vehicles such as heavy trucks and cars which have different speed limits.

    Static (fixed) camera locations (PDF 78KB)

  • Red light cameras – The camera system uses radars to track and capture vehicles running the red light. The primary radar scans and tracks vehicles as they approach the intersection. If a vehicle crosses the stop line during a red-light phase, a camera photographs the rear of the vehicle. A second radar (known as the validation radar) ensures the photograph taken is of the breaching vehicle.

    Red light camera locations (PDF 109KB)

  • Mobile cameras – Police operate mobile cameras in vehicles which are deployed to high risk crash sites across New Zealand. The cameras include a radar system that measures vehicle speed and a flash for night time photography. Traffic camera operators run the camera equipment from inside the vehicles and are able to observe any images taken and make adjustments to image quality when required. They cannot alter any of the radar settings or the speed at which a camera system takes a photograph.

Police officers also use radar and laser devices to enforce speed limits to help reduce death and serious injury on our roads:

  • Radar devices – Radar devices are mounted on patrol car dashboards. They can measure the speed of vehicles driving towards and away from the patrol car, and the speed of vehicles in front of and behind it. They can be used while the patrol car is moving or stationary. Infringement notices issued by officers using radar devices carry demerit points as well as a fine.
  • Laser devices – Laser devices use invisible laser beams to measure the speed of individual vehicles in a stream of traffic. Trained police officers hold the devices when stationary (such as standing by the roadside, or from the front seat of a patrol car) and point them at cars to get a speed reading. Infringement notices issued by officers using laser devices carry demerit points as well as a fine.
  • Pace check – Police will use a vehicle equipped with certified speedometer to follow a speeding vehicle to determine its travel speed.

How are camera sites selected?

Safety Cameras are placed in areas:

  • Where there is a problem with excessive speed and/or
  • Where there is an identified crash risk, and/or where research shows a history of crashes causing death and/or serious injury.
  • Around schools and kindergartens

Police in conjunction with NZTA’s Safety Team and an independent transportation sector expert, Abley Transportation Consultants, have developed the Static Camera Site Selection Methodology to identify locations on the road network that have a proven history of crashes or potential for crashes resulting in death or serious injury.

For more information check out the Static camera expansion programme site selection process.

How accurate is the equipment used to enforce speed?

Transport law requires all speed detection equipment, including safety cameras, radars, lasers and vehicle speedometers to be checked (calibrated) and certified every year.

Any new camera is subject to a rigorous testing and approval process before being used.

How secure is information collected by the safety cameras?

Images are stored digitally and cannot be overwritten or altered. A security indicator prevents the image from being tampered with at any stage. All images and information such as time, date and location are encrypted. Static and red light camera images are transferred wirelessly over a secure network. Mobile speed camera images are downloaded by mobile camera operators and transferred to the Police Infringement Bureau for processing.

Who gets the money from safety camera infringements?

Police does not retain any of the money from infringements. The money goes to the Government’s consolidated fund.

It actually costs Police to issue notices.

Police would be delighted not to have to issue any infringements, as this would show everyone was driving safely and not putting themselves or others at risk. This would see deaths and serious injuries on our roads reduced significantly.

Who do I contact if I have a question about an infringement I have received, or want to pay an infringement?

Information on infringements, including frequently asked questions, how to pay an infringement or how to query your infringement can be found in Infringement Services.