Bill in Congress would ban red-light cameras

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 2/13/2015

A U.S. lawmaker from Colorado wants to ban red-light cameras and radar speeding cameras nationwide except in school zones and construction zones.

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., introduced HR950, the Prohibiting Automated Traffic Enforcement Act of 2015, on Thursday, Feb. 12. The bill has been referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Perlmutter says municipalities that use automated traffic enforcement cameras do so to generate revenue. He says the safety claims are unsubstantiated.

“Police officers are the only sure way to apprehend seriously impaired, reckless or other dangerous drivers,” Perlmutter said in a press release. “All of us are concerned with reducing accidents and reckless driving, but it is not evident photo radar cameras improve highway safety, reduce accidents or improve traffic flow.”

Perlmutter cites a 2013 study by the University of Tennessee that fails to reach a consensus about whether automated enforcement cameras improve safety. Other studies have shown that intersections equipped with red-light cameras saw decreases in T-bone type crashes but increases in rear-end crashes.

OOIDA and the National Motorists Association are among the most vocal opponents of red-light cameras, pointing out that in some communities, yellow-light times have been shortened to generate more revenue from red-light violations.

With Perlmutter’s bill introduced, Congress will decide whether the issue warrants a look at the federal level or should remain with the states.

Twenty-four states use red-light cameras, while nine states prohibit their use. Twelve states have banned speeding enforcement cameras.

Since mid-2014 alone, lawmakers in states that include Ohio, Missouri, Arizona, South Dakota, Louisiana and New Jersey have passed or at least considered measures to restrict or prohibit automated camera enforcement. State lawmakers in at least 20 states are poised to take up the issue this year.

New York, meanwhile, recently extended its camera program and the city of Chicago continues to defend its program in a lawsuit that reached the state Supreme Court late in the year. North Carolina is considering proposals to bring back its cameras.

In Missouri, a debate rages over the legality of cameras used to enforce a moving violation. A lawsuit currently resides at the state Supreme Court on that issue. In January, it was announced that drivers who received tickets from Kansas City, Mo.’s red-light camera program were eligible for refunds.

State Legislative Editor Keith Goble contributed to this report.

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