RED LIGHT CAMERAS
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If you haven't already done so, please read the Home page
(There is no requirement to post signs at right turns
saying, "stop before turning" or something like that.
New 12-9-02, updated 9-29-12:
Until Jan. 1, 2013, the Vehicle Code (excerpted below) required the posting of warning signs like the one depicted below, "visible to traffic approaching from all directions" at each camera-equipped intersection, or at all the main entrances to town. Most cities posted enough signs but not all signs complied with the CalTrans specifications - particularly as to the minimum size of 30 x 42 inches.
CVC 21455.5. (a) The limit line, the intersection,
or a place designated in Section 21455, where a driver
is required to stop, may be equipped with an automated
enforcement system if the governmental agency
utilizing the system meets all of the following
requirements: (1) Identifies the system by signs that
clearly indicate the system's presence and are visible
to traffic approaching from all directions, or posts
signs at all major entrances to the city, including,
at a minimum, freeways, bridges, and state highway
routes. (Former version of CVC 21455.5(a).)
After Jan. 1, 2013, a new law (see SB 1303 on the
Legis page) requires that there be a sign near each
camera - and there no longer is the option to post
Here are some of the other laws about road signs.
CVC 21400. The Department of Transportation shall, after consultation with local agencies and public hearings, adopt rules and regulations prescribing uniform standards and specifications for all official traffic control devices placed pursuant to this code, including, but not limited to, stop signs, yield right-of-way signs, speed restriction signs...
CVC 21401. (a) Except as provided in Section 21374, only those official traffic control devices that conform to the uniform standards and specifications promulgated by the Department of Transportation shall be placed upon a street or highway...
CVC 21465. No person shall place, maintain, or display upon, or in view of, any highway any unofficial sign, signal, device, or marking, or any sign, signal, device, or marking which purports to be or is an imitation of, or resembles, an official traffic control device or which attempts to direct the movement of traffic or which hides from view any official traffic control device.
CVC 21467. Every prohibited sign, signal, device, or light is a public nuisance, and the Department of Transportation, members of the California Highway Patrol, and local authorities are hereby authorized and empowered without notice to remove the same, or cause the same to be removed, or the Director of Transportation, the commissioner, or local authorities may bring an action as provided by law to abate such nuisance.
You can also download two clearer versions of this
chart, as follows.
If "your" city has
undersized signs and you are going to raise that issue
in court, you will need to be prepared to deal with
the following sort of reasoning by the judge: During
a Sept. 2003 trial of a ticket issued before Culver
City's March 2003 posting of full-sized signs, Comm.
Amado ruled that (overall) size doesn't matter - since
the picture of the signal and the lettering on the
then-undersized signs were the same size as those
required for the full-sized signs, the fact that the
overall dimensions were too small would not
matter. Judges in other towns may see it the
same way - or differently, of course.
Culver City: During the Aug. 5, 2004 trial of
a ticket issued at Sepulveda / Machado in Culver City
the defendant pointed out that there was no warning
sign on the large driveway (for a housing complex)
that makes up the 4th side of that intersection.
Comm. Amado ruled that it is not required to post
signs facing traffic coming from private property.
Here is an August 2003 CalTrans letter
giving their official position about sign
Signs for Right Turns?
There is no
requirement to post signs at right turns saying, "Stop
Before Turning" or something like that.
If you could swear that you
have seen such a sign, you may have been to South
San Francisco, or Millbrae.
At an intersection
where rolling right turns are a major safety problem and
camera enforcement has failed to reduce the violations,
and at those few locations where it's necessary to
prevent all right turns during the red, the city
should install a Blank Out sign. Blank Out signs
are large (24" x 24" or bigger) electrically-powered
signs whose messages are not visible when the power is
off. Thus, they provide the ability to prohibit
right turns during selected portions of the signal
Blank Out Sign
Guidelines for Signs
From Chapter V. of the Federal Highway Administration's Red Light Camera Systems Operational Guidelines (with emphasis added):
( Please note that these are guidelines and compliance is not mandatory; in the Introduction to the Guidelines, it says, "Although not a regulatory requirement, the guideline is intended to provide critical information for State and local agencies on relevant aspects of red light camera systems in order to promote consistency, proper implementation, and operation..." )
California has adopted its own version of the
Federal guidance applicable to sign placement. My
detailed discussion is at:
We have a lot of tourists in California, and due to
the State's size and general lack of a public
transportation system many of them rent cars and
For those not fluent in English, the
CalTrans-approved "Photo Enforced" warning signs might
look like this:
...and South San Francisco's "After Stop, Right Turn Permitted on Red" sign must look like this:
The two signs above were made up by
highwayrobbery.net. We are sure that in Greece
and Mexico, the warning signs use international
symbols that can be understood by all nationalities.
Actual Blank Out Sign on Canoga Avenue in LA
This Blank Out sign has been set up to flash, in an effort to prevent motorists from making right turns on red across Metro's Orange Line busway in Los Angeles. But it hasn't been effective, probably because it depends upon the motorist's understanding of an English word and also fails to tell the driver what to do, or not to do (don't turn right).
Further, it is an unapproved sign (not listed in CalTrans' MUTCD), so exposes Metro and the City of LA to liability in the event of an accident.