Massachusetts governor looks for green while going red

| 11/16/2009

Gov. Deval Patrick wants to add photo-red cameras to Massachusetts intersections. He has included a provision in the fiscal year 2010 budget bill that would authorize cities and towns to set up the enforcement tool.

If the governor gets his way, Massachusetts would become the 25th state to authorize cameras to be posted to nab red-light runners. The cameras snap pictures of the license plates of  red-light runners. Tickets of as much as $100 could be mailed to the owner of the vehicle, regardless of who was driving at the time.

Failure to pay by the owners would result in the suspension of their driver’s license and vehicle registration. Suspensions would remain in effect until the tickets and late penalties are paid in full. Local governments also would be permitted to seize or boot vehicles for nonpayment.

Supporters say the cameras are about safety and using technology in a helpful way. Others say the devices free up police to address bigger issues.

Opponents, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, have questioned the claim that cameras are solely intended to keep people safe. They cite the way Patrick introduced the measure into a budget bill.

OOIDA says the motivation of everyone involved is economics. Whether it’s the local jurisdiction or the manufacturer, there’s no reasonable justification for doing that.

Others question the effectiveness of such intersection cameras, arguing they have the potential to distract drivers and cause more fender-bender accidents. In fact, multiple studies have found that crashes actually increased in cities with red-light cameras.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Massachusetts in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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