In many areas (including Chicago), a red light camera will issue a ticket if you take a right turn on a red light without a complete stop. These turns are much less risky than blowing straight through the intersection, nevertheless, they pay the same fine . . .
The newspaper discusses a study, "A Method for Determining Red-Light-Running Fines and Evaluating Intersection Characteristics at Red-Light-Camera Intersections". I have not read the paper yet, but wanted to share the newspaper's analysis. The study develops a graduated fine based on how late a car runs a red light:
The study calculated the probability of a conflict between opposing traffic when a vehicle runs the red light. A simulation model was then used to determine the risk of whether a crash happens or not based on how long the light had been red when the vehicle enters the intersection. The probability of a crash between 0.1 and 3.5 seconds after the light turned red was found to be zero percent, largely because of the all-red clearance interval prevents conflict. The risk jumps significantly after the light has been red for 4.4 seconds or longer.
The researchers used $85,438 as an estimate of the cost of a serious red light running crash. They then proposed a red light camera ticket issued when the light has been red for less than 3.5 seconds should be $0, but it should be $200 if the light had been red for 3.8 seconds. The cost would top out at $82,985 for a ticket issued 7.0 seconds after the red.
This sort of sliding scale appears in other contexts, such as congestion pricing. I think its an interesting idea to consider, setting violations at the degree of risk.