New Hampshire lawmakers consider traffic camera bill

| Monday, April 04, 2005

Lawmakers in the New Hampshire House are expected to vote soon on a bill that would give communities the green light to install cameras at traffic lights to catch those running red lights.

The bill, which previously passed the House Transportation Committee 14-0, would allow cities or towns with a population of 20,000 or more to install the motion-activated cameras at intersections. The New Hampshire Department of Safety could install cameras in smaller communities on state roads.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration endorses the cameras, which are in communities in 20 states and the District of Columbia, as one piece of a safety approach that incorporates better engineering, education and enforcement. But the agency said the question of whether to use the cameras should be left up to local decision-makers.

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.

Under the bill, cameras would snap pictures of red-light runners and a ticket would be mailed to the vehicle owner. Signs would be posted alerting drivers to the cameras use at affected intersections.

Sponsored by Rep. Candace Bouchard, D-Concord, the bill – HB679 – would allow cities to set the fines to as much as $100. No points would be added to offenders' licenses and their insurance companies would not be notified.

Ticket revenues would be split evenly between the state and the city.

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