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Red Light Cameras in NSW

There are 201 red light cameras installed at intersections throughout NSW, generating millions of dollars in fines revenue for the State Government. Regulation 56 of the Road Rules 2014 makes it an offence to run a red light. The offence carries a fine of $457 and the accrual of three demerit points. If the camera is in a school zone and the offence is committed during school hours, the penalty is a $572 fine and four demerit points.

What is purpose of red light cameras?

The overall goal of the cameras is to reduce road trauma. Speeding increases the risk of a crash and death or serious injury to motorists and pedestrians. Crashes at intersections are often more severe, with drivers and passengers vulnerable to side impacts.

The NSW Centre for Road Safety’s 2018 Speed Camera Review found the installation of red light cameras had made intersections safer than they had been five years earlier.

The centre found:

  • a 38 per cent reduction in fatal and serious injury crashes;
  • a 74 per cent reduction in fatalities;
  • a 40 per cent reduction in serious injuries;
  • a 48 per cent reduction in pedestrian casualties.

All revenue raised from fines goes to the state’s Community Road Safety Fund to fund road safety projects such as engineering works, public education campaigns and community grants.

How do red light cameras work?

The cameras use a vehicle tracking radar or sensors embedded in the road surface to detect and record a vehicle’s speed. Each camera is programmed to photograph the rear of any vehicle travelling over the white stop line 0.3 seconds after the lights have turned red. The cameras are not triggered by vehicles crossing the line when the traffic lights are amber.

Red light cameras can detect any vehicle that exceeds the speed limit, whether the traffic lights are red, green or amber.

The cameras operate automatically 24 hours a day.

Are red light cameras accurate?

Roads and Maritime Services experts inspect each camera for accuracy and reliability every 30 days, They inspect each camera’s accompanying speed measuring device at least every 12 months, in accordance with Section 137 of the Road Transport Act 2013 and Clause 35 of Road Transport (General) Regulation 2013.

A camera-recording device must be calibrated every 90 days, under Section 138 of the Road Transport Act and Clause 35 of Road Transport (General) Regulation 2013.

An inspection is also carried out after any maintenance or repair to a camera or its speed measuring device.

What is recorded?

If a vehicle is detected running a red light or speeding, a digital image of the vehicle is recorded. The type, make and registration plate are captured clearly.

This image includes:

  • The date and time of the offence
  • The location of the camera
  • The vehicle’s speed, direction and lane
  • The speed limit for the road

Roads and Maritime Services posts the penalty notice to the address of the vehicle’s registered owner. The fine is payable to Revenue NSW. A copy of the digital image can be downloaded from the Revenue NSW website.

Is the information secure?

Each image captured by a red light camera has a security indicator to prevent tampering, and when the image is transferred all information is encrypted.

How to appeal a red light camera fine

If a driver believes that a fine was issued in error, or if they have extenuating circumstances for the offence, they can request a review with Revenue NSW within 28 days of receiving notice of an offence.

Red light camera fine leniency

An appeal for leniency can be made on several grounds. For instance, there may have been extenuating circumstances which led to the offence, such as the driver crossing the line to avoid an accident or because another motorist had created an obstruction. Alternately, a driver with an unblemished traffic record could argue the penalty should be reduced to a caution only.

In some circumstances, the offence will be cancelled, because the State Debt Recovery Office finds the notice was issued in error or the captured image does not disclose the offence.

If the driver elects to take the matter to court, they will need evidence for the claim to be successful. This could include dash cam footage, testimonials from witnesses or photos.

If the vehicle owner was not the driver at the time of the offence captured by the red light camera, the fine and demerit points can be transferred to the driver responsible via a statutory declaration.

How are locations chosen?

Red light cameras are installed at intersections identified as high risk due to frequency of crashes or potential for crashes, and in sections where road workers, pedestrians and other road users may be most at risk.

Current locations for all red light cameras around the state are listed on the Centre for Road Safety website.

All intersections with red light cameras are signposted. The sign shows an image, the speed limit and the text “red light speed camera ahead”.

For advice on traffic matters or any other legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Sally Crosswell

This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

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