Traffic-light devices targeted in Kentucky

| 1/6/2004

A Kentucky state lawmaker wants to outlaw the use of a device that can change some traffic signals from red to green.

State Rep. John Vincent, R-Ashland, has drafted a bill intended to deter anyone other than public safety and transit agencies from using mobile infrared transmitters, or MIRT.

Under the proposal, a person caught using the device could be fined $250. Repeat offenders could be jailed up to one year and pay a $500 fine.

A person involved in an accident while using the device could be sentenced to one year in prison and fined $500. A second accident conviction could result in a five-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.

The devices, which sit on a vehicle’s dash, are not regulated by current federal standards because they rely on a beam of light instead of a radio wave to trigger the light-changing mechanisms that have been attached to some intersections.

A traffic-light changer is designed to allow police, fire and other emergency officials to clear intersections before they approach. The device has been in use at intersections since the early 1970s.

A recent U.S. Department of Transportation survey showed the devices are in use at 26,500 intersections in 78 cities across the country.