Measure targeting traffic-light changers advances in Kentucky

| Friday, February 25, 2005

A Kentucky Senate panel has advanced a bill that would outlaw the use of devices that can change some traffic signals from red to green.

Traffic-light changers are designed to allow police, fire and other emergency officials to clear intersections before they approach.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. John Vincent, R-Ashland, recently won approval by the Senate Transportation Committee. HB17, which previously passed the House, has been forwarded to the full Senate for consideration.

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

Under the bill, a person caught using such a device could be fined up to $500. A person involved in an accident resulting in injuries while using the device could face up to one year in prison in addition to a 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.

The light-changing mechanisms have been in use at intersections since the early 1970s.

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