Traffic camera bill passes from South Carolina Senate panel

| 3/11/2005

South Carolina’s largest cities would be given the green light to install cameras at traffic lights to catch those running red lights under a bill approved by the Senate Transportation Committee.

The bill, approved March 8, would apply to cities with a population of 20,000 or more.

The transportation panel rejected a similar bill a week ago after opponents said it might be a tempting revenue source for small towns.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration endorses the cameras, which are in communities in 20 states and the District of Columbia with still other states pursuing similar authorization.

Supporters say the equipment acts as a deterrent and helps snare red-light-running drivers who otherwise might not get caught.

But some question the effectiveness of such intersection cameras, arguing they have the potential to distract drivers and cause more fender-bender accidents.

The cameras snap pictures of red-light runners or speeders. A ticket is mailed to the vehicle owner after authorities review photos.

Sponsored by Sen. Scott Richardson, R-Hilton Head Island, the bill would fine violators up to $100. No points would be added to offenders’ licenses, and their insurance companies would not be notified.

S40 is headed to the full Senate for further consideration.