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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Automated Speed Enforcement in the U.S.: A Review of the Literature on Benefits and Barriers to Implementation


Excessive speed is considered to be a major contributing factor to motor vehicle crashes and is thus an important focus of highway enforcement efforts. Automated speed enforcement programs have been widely applied outside of the U.S. to effectively address speeding-related safety problems. In the U.S., automated speed enforcement programs are currently operated in only 11 states and in Washington D.C., most of which are located on residential streets and not highways. Moreover, a number of automated speed enforcement programs have been discontinued since 1990. This literature review explores the potential benefits and barriers to implementing automated speed enforcement programs in the U.S. by examining the large body of literature on automated enforcement programs, including red-light and speed programs. It begins with background on the implementation of automated speed enforcement and includes a discussion of research on the potential safety and financial effects of these programs. Next, the legal restrictions to the implementation of automated speed enforcement in the U.S. are outlined. This is followed by a discussion of stakeholder support including potential concerns of citizens, special interest groups, elected officials, and governmental agencies. Then, an evaluation of key program design choices is provided, encompassing issues related to owner or driver liability, manned or unmanned systems, mobile or fixed systems, visibility, location, enforcement thresholds, program management, and revenue distribution. The study concludes with a discussion of major findings.

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