Louisiana bill would put limits on red-light cameras

| 6/3/2008

A bill in the Louisiana Senate is intended to protect the identity of people in vehicles that are caught on camera running red lights in the state.

The cameras, used in several Louisiana communities, snap pictures of red-light runners’ or speeders’ vehicles. Tickets are mailed to the vehicles’ owners, regardless of who was driving at the time.

Supporters of the enforcement cameras say they act as a deterrent and help snare red-light-running drivers who otherwise might not get caught. Critics question the effectiveness of such intersection cameras, arguing they have the potential to distract drivers and cause more fender-bender accidents.

Others question the claim that cameras are solely intended to keep people safe. They say the motivation to use the technology is economics.

Sponsored by Sen. Troy Hebert, D-Jeanerette, the measure would prohibit companies from taking pictures of the front of vehicles. It also would outlaw giving out drivers’ personal information.

Hebert said the intention of the legislation is to protect the identity of drivers and their passengers. A photo of the license plate is all that is necessary to identity vehicles, he told The Advertiser in Lafayette, LA.

Traffic cameras would continue to snap photos of vehicle license plates. However, they couldn’t be used to capture any other identifying photos.

Local governments also would be prohibited from providing private companies with personal information, namely Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers.

The bill – SB396 – is awaiting final consideration on the Senate floor. If approved there, it would move to the House.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Louisiana in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor