Mayor Patrick McCrory

Outstanding Achievement Award
The City of Charlotte and Lockheed Martin IMS "SafeLight" Photo Traffic Enforcement Program

Over the past decade, red light violations in U.S. cities have increased to the point that they now represent a primary cause of traffic injuries and fatalities. On April 30, 1998, the City of Charlotte, the State of North Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) and Lockheed Martin IMS (IMS) formed a creative public/private partnership and took an official stand against red light runners.

The Department of Transportation and IMS developed and implemented an innovative photo enforcement program, ASafeLight.@ They then examined Charlotte's red light enforcement problem and proposed the new program as an effective solution that would increase public safety, raise public awareness of the problem, increase revenue for the City, improve residents' quality of life, and ensure the financial viability of the program itself.

With the DOT providing a blueprint for the design and operation of photo enforcement in Charlotte, and IMS ensuring the feasibility and sustainability of the DOT's plan, Charlotte now benefits from the largest turnkey photo enforcement program of its kind in the U.S., with 20 cameras in operation.

For Charlotte, IMS combines the technology of the most advanced, proven vehicle detection system, the Gatsometer Type 36 Red Light Camera System, with its proprietary software, the Ticket Information Management System, to effectively manage daily operations of ASafeLight.@ Each camera is synchronized with a six-channel magnetic induction loop detector, the most sophisticated detection configuration used domestically for photo enforcement and traffic signal control systems.

Charlotte's red light camera system provides 24-hour enforcement. If a vehicle fails to stop for a red light, the camera automatically captures its image. The camera records the date, time, and speed of the vehicle, and the elapsed time since the beginning of the red signal. Using a proprietary digitization and review process, photographs are printed on citations and mailed to the owner of the vehicle.

ASafeLight@ couples its technology with an aggressive public awareness campaign, complete with eye-catching signage, which conveys the urgent message that red light running is life-threatening, illegal, and intolerable.

Prior to deploying cameras in Charlotte, a survey of eight City intersections indicated red light violations occurring at a rate of 20 cars per hour. Since the introduction of ASafeLight,@ the frequency of motorists running red lights has decreased by 50 percent. The program has been such a success that legislators are considering expanding photo enforcement to include photo radar speed detection.

Under the leadership of Mayor Patrick McCrory, Charlotte's vision and the experience of IMS in developing cost-effective, technologically advanced solutions have resulted in a ASafeLight@ program that is saving lives.

The success of the program can be attributed to a public/private partnership that focuses on building a program geared toward Charlotte's specific needs. A fully privatized effort with no investment by the City's taxpayers, ASafeLight@ has decreased violations, accidents, injuries and deaths; improved public safety and quality of life for City residents; decreased insurance, emergency medical service, and infrastructure costs; and refocused police resources from intersection monitoring to crime prevention. Violations are projected to generate approximately $4 million in the first year of operation, allowing the City to fund other innovative programs.

Return to Previous Page.

Home Search

The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Telephone (202) 293-7330, FAX (202) 293-2352

Copyright 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.