States pursue or approve red-light, speed camera rule changes

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 2/26/2019

State legislatures around the country continue to discuss and take action on the use of automated cameras to ticket drivers.

More than 500 communities in the U.S. employ the use of red-light or speed cameras to nab drivers who disobey traffic rules, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety reports.

Officials with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association say the focus on the revenue-generating devices ignores the more logical and reasoned approach to roads and traffic: keep traffic moving in as safe a manner as possible.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is one of the most recent states to take action on the issue. Effective this fall, speed cameras can be posted in active work zones on interstates and federal aid highways.

The 2018 law permits a five-year pilot program enabling the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to post speed cameras along affected roadways.

Advocates said driver behavior in work zones need to change and the cameras may remind motorists to slow down in affected areas.

In addition, a legislative analysis reports the cameras could raise in excess of $30 million annually with the state’s take being allotted to the State Police, PennDOT, Turnpike Commission, and Motor License Fund.

Opponents said instead of resorting to automated enforcement cameras they would rather see police officers posted in work zones. They also note that officers can monitor other dangerous driving behaviors.

Colorado

A renewed effort in the House calls for banning the use of red-light cameras throughout the state.

State law now permits the use of red-light and speed cameras in all communities. To date, programs are in place in cities that include Denver, Boulder, Commerce City, Pueblo, Fort Collins and Aurora.

A similar version of the bill was vetoed twice by then-Gov. John Hickenlooper. Reps. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, and Steve Humphrey, R-Alt, introduced the new bill in hopes that, with a new administration in the governor’s office, a better outcome would be likely.

The House Transportation and Local Government Committee, however, voted last week to kill the bill to forbid any city, county or municipality to use red-light cameras. HB1099 also sought to end the use of cameras to detect speeding in work zones.

Instead, the use of ticket cameras would have required voter approval.

Florida

Two efforts underway in both statehouse chambers want to ban the state, counties, and municipalities from using red-light cameras.

There are about 50 local governments around the state operating more than 500 red-light cameras, according to a summary analysis attached to the bill. Fine amounts of $158 are dispensed for actions that include turning right on red, failing to come to a complete stop, or crossing the line where a camera is focused on an intersection.

Numbers available from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles show that agencies issued 1.1 million notices of violation over a 12-month period.

In addition, the department’s data show the total crashes occurring at intersections before and after red-light cameras were installed has increased by 15 percent. Included in the data are the numbers of fatal crashes, which increased from 19 to 21.

Sponsored by Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Eustis, HB6003 would repeal the program that allows the use of the ticket tool.

Ending programs around the state could cost local governments $76.8 million annually.

Sabatini’s bill awaits consideration in committee. The Senate version, SB622, also awaits consideration.

Hawaii

The Senate Ways and Means Committee is the most recent of three committees to advance a bill to permit counties to set up red-light camera enforcement systems.

The bill’s next stop is the Senate floor. If approved there, SB663 would move to the House.

Illinois

Six bills at the statehouse are intended to rein in use of automated enforcement programs.

  • HB322 would prohibit municipalities without home rule powers in Chicago’s six collar counties from using red-light cameras.
  • HB323 would implement a statewide ban for the use of red-light cameras. Additionally, municipalities would be forbidden from using speed cameras.
  • HB296, HB326 and SB1297 each call for the Illinois Department of Transportation to study the performance and efficiency of red-light cameras. The agency would be responsible for reporting its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly by the end of this year.
  • HB1619 would limit how revenue from automated enforcement cameras can be used. Specifically, a municipality or county could only use revenue for transportation purposes.

The bills are in multiple committees.

Indiana

Speed cameras could soon be authorized throughout the state.

Legislation in both statehouse chambers seek to authorize the Indiana State Police to set up cameras in highway work zones to enforce speed limits.

Violators would receive fines in the mail of up to $250. Revenue would be routed to the state general fund.

The House version, HB1412 is in in the House Roads and Transportation Committee.

The Senate Homeland Security and Transportation Committee has approved an amended version of the House bill

SB256 was amended in committee for a study to be completed by the end of this year about the use of speed cameras in work zones.

The bill awaits further consideration in the Senate.

Iowa

A handful of bills in the Legislature would regulate or ban use of all ticket cameras.

The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency has reported that eight cities around the state operate, or have operated, a total of 78 speed and red-light camera devices. It is estimated the cities collected $12 million in revenue via the devices over a one-year period.

The bills – SSB1004, SF343, HSB125 and HF253 – would prohibit ticket programs starting July 1.

HSB36 would also prohibit new ticket programs. Cities now using the enforcement mechanism would have until July 2020 to end their programs. The bill would make an exception for cameras used in “high-crash” or “high-crash” areas.

The Iowa Department of Transportation previously ordered the cameras turned off.

The cities of Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Muscatine later challenged the decision in court. The Iowa Supreme Court agreed with the cities in April 2018 in a ruling that the department does not have the authority to order cities to remove cameras from highways and interstates.

As a result, the final decision on traffic cameras must be made by the Legislature.

Maryland

One year after Gov. Larry Hogan signed into law a bill to authorize the Fort Washington area to use one speed camera on state Route 210, or Indian Head Highway, another effort at the statehouse would revise the rule.

Maryland law now limits use of speed cameras along state highway work zones and in school zones. Montgomery County is also permitted to use the ticketing mechanism in residential areas.

Approved during the 2018 regular session, HB1575 law permits one speed camera along Route 210 in Prince George County at the intersection with Old Fort Road.

HB187 would expand the rule to apply to any intersection on Route 210 in Prince George County.

The bill is scheduled for consideration March 7 in the House Environment and Transportation Committee.

Missouri

Multiple bills cover the use of ticket cameras.

Sponsored by Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon, SB111 includes provisions to require police to notify motorists’ in person who have been charged with traffic violations. Police would have 24 hours to make the notification.

The in-person notification requirement would not apply to data and information collected at weigh stations.

Communities with camera systems already in place would have one year to complete or terminate contracts. At that time, they would be required to comply with changes in the legislation.

The bill is in the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee.

A House bill, HB611, awaiting assignment to committee would do the same thing.

Nevada

A Senate bill would authorize localities to use cameras to enforce traffic light laws.

Nevada law has prohibited use of unmanned traffic cameras since 1999. Currently, a law enforcement officer must be present to issue a citation, and the device must be handheld or installed in a vehicle.

Violators would face minimum fine amounts of $50. No maximum fine is included in the bill.

SB43 received a hearing in the Senate Growth and Infrastructure Committee. No action was taken on the bill.

North Carolina

The North Carolina General Assembly convened on Monday with some notable bills already filed for consideration.

Among the issues already getting attention at the statehouse is a bill to authorize a Cumberland County town south of Fayetteville to use red-light cameras.

State law already permits 19 cities around the state and the municipalities in Union County to use the ticket tool cameras.

H105 would include the town of Hope Mills for authorization.

Fine amounts in Hope Mills, and a handful of other localities, would be set at $100 – up from the current $75 fine. The remaining communities would continue to collect $75 fines.

Oklahoma

One House bill would permit the use of speed cameras in construction or maintenance zones. HB1237 specifies that construction or maintenance workers must be present during the time of the violation.

Authorized use of the equipment would be limited to work areas operated by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation or the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.

The bill specifies that vehicle owners would not be held liable for recorded violations if the driver at the time of the violation cannot be identified via the photograph or other recorded images.

The Senate Public Safety Committee voted on Monday to advance a separate bill covering use of red-light cameras. Specifically, SB260 would prohibit use of the cameras for all law enforcement agencies in the state.

Oregon

Oregon law allows the use of red-light camera systems to nab speeders for a select number of cities in the state.

There are 10 communities around the state authorized to have ticketing systems. They are required to cover the costs of operation.

State law limits distribution of automated tickets to instances when drivers are exceeding the posted speed by at least 11 mph. Cameras are permitted to be mounted on street lights or “other appropriate place.”

Two Senate bills, SB559 and SB560, would authorize all cities to elect to operate photo radar if they cover costs of operation.

SB559 specifies the authority to operate photo radar systems must be in “high-crash urban corridors.” The authority would be permanent.

Currently, only the city of Portland is allowed to use fixed photo radar in the specified corridors.

Both bills are in the Senate Transportation Committee.

Texas

A slew of Texas legislators have introduced bills that addresses the use of automated enforcement throughout the state.

According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, there are 54 communities throughout Texas that employ red-light cameras. At least six towns have outlawed use of automated ticketing programs.

Currently, fines for running red lights at monitored intersections in the Lone Star State cannot exceed $75. Failure to pay can result in offenders being barred from renewing their vehicle registration.

  • HB1631/SB653 would repeal state law allowing red-light cameras.
  • HB537 would require at least once every five years that cities operating red-light cameras do a study to determine whether changes at an intersection are likely to reduce the number of violations.
  • HB901/SB413 and SB459 would prevent county assessor collectors and the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles from refusing to register motor vehicles or transfer vehicle title because of unpaid camera tickets.
  • HB262 would prohibit local authorities from installing red-light cameras. Any programs in place by June 2019 would be exempt from the rule.
  • HB2262 would prohibit the use of ticket cameras for anything other than toll enforcement.

Advocates say withholding registration adversely affects the state and a county’s revenue stream for road and bridge maintenance all so a civil fine owed to a municipality could be collected.

Virginia

One bill on the governor’s desk opens the door to speed camera use in the state.

SB1521 received overwhelming support in the state House and Senate. Adoption into law would authorize the State Police to use the cameras in highway work zones.

A requirement would be in place for troopers to have their vehicle’s blue flashing lights activated to issue a citation. Ticket amounts totaling up to $125 would be issued by mail for offenders traveling at least 12 mph in excess of the posted speed limit.

 

 

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