Ohio state senators have advanced legislation that would
prohibit devices that can change some traffic signals from red to green.
A bill banning the devices has been sent back to the House
for final approval before heading to Gov. Bob Taft.
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 as low as $300, The Toledo Blade reported recently.
People can even buy kits and build the signal changers
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Wagner, R-Sycamore, would
ban the possession or use of so-called mobile infrared transmitters, or MIRTs,
by anyone other than public safety officers.
Under the proposal – HB406 – unauthorized possession of the
devices could result in a fine up to $250 and/or up to 30 days in jail. Actual
use of such a device could cost the offender as much as $1,000 and/or up to six
months in jail under the provisions in the bill.
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
installed at 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.
Traffic lights in 35 Ohio cities, townships and villages are
rigged for use with the devices, the newspaper reported.