Efforts to address the use of automated cameras to ticket drivers for running red lights are nearing passage in two states.
A bill on the Missouri governor’s desk addresses the minimum yellow light change intervals for traffic signals at intersections outfitted with cameras.
If signed into law by Gov. Jay Nixon, yellow standards throughout the state would be set in accordance with nationally recognized engineering standards. Federal guidelines specify times somewhere between three and six seconds – depending on such factors as the grade of the road and the speed limit.
Advocates for the bill say it is intended to straighten out cities like Arnold, MO.
The community, which is located south of St. Louis, was forced by the Missouri Department of Transportation to adopt the federal guidelines after installing red-light cameras and then using its own shortened yellow-light formula.
The revenue enhancer has also taken a hit in St. Louis. A circuit court judge has ruled against the city’s use of the cameras, finding it violates a ticketed driver’s right to due process.
Sen. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay, said his bill – SB611 – is all about improving safety at intersections across the state.
He cited a Texas Department of Transportation study that showed a one-second reduction in time for yellow lights resulted in a 110 percent increase in violations written. However, simply lengthening that time frame by one second reduced red-light violations by 53 percent.
Lembke noted that state’s using the formula proposed in his bill have seen collisions drop by 43 percent.
Down river in Louisiana the use of ticket cameras also is getting attention in the city of New Orleans.
A bill on Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk would give the New Orleans city and traffic courts the right to hear appeals from camera-issued tickets. The courts now do not have appellate authority. Currently, all appeals go through an administrative hearing officer. Any appeal beyond that is limited to a lawsuit.
Intended to simplify the process, HB873 would authorize the court to handle appeals of the hearing officer’s decision.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association supports efforts to limit ticket cameras. OOIDA officials say the focus on the revenue-generating devices ignores the more logical and reasoned approach to roads and traffic.
OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said the goal should be to keep traffic moving in as safe a manner as possible. He has also said that communities would be better served to pursue “intelligent traffic lights that actually monitor traffic and are triggered by traffic flow.”
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