Louisiana House passes bill banning traffic light changers

| 4/27/2004

The Louisiana House unanimously approved legislation to outlaw a device that can change some traffic signals from red to green.

A traffic-light changer is designed to allow police, fire and other emergency officials to clear intersections before they approach. But some drivers have managed to purchase them on the Internet for about $325, The Times-Picayune reported.

HB188, sponsored by Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, passed the House April 16 by a 104-0 vote. It has been sent to the Senate.

The bill is intended to deter anyone other than public safety and transit agencies from buying, selling or using the so-called mobile infrared transmitters, or MIRTs.

Richmond’s bill stipulates that violators be jailed for up to a year, fined a maximum of $5,000, or both.

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

Louisiana State Police spokesman Lt. William Davis told the newspaper he was unaware of any serious problems with the devices in Louisiana but said if the devices became popular and drivers started using them, “it would cause mayhem” with traffic, increasing accidents, injuries and fatalities.