Bid to ban red-light cameras dies in Missouri

| 6/6/2006

A bill to prohibit Missouri towns from using automated cameras to ticket drivers has died.

The cameras snap pictures of red-light runners or speeders. A ticket is mailed to the vehicles’ owners, regardless who was driving at the time.

Sponsored by Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, the bill remained in the Senate judiciary panel when the session ended, effectively killing it for the year.

The bill – SB719 – would have prohibited local governments from installing the cameras. Any cameras already in place – such as is the case in Arnold and Florissant – also would have had to come down.

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

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

In fact, a study paid for by the U.S. Department of Transportation showed rear-end crashes actually increased in cities with red-light cameras, as motorists stopped abruptly at yellow lights to avoid tickets.

Further, Crowell said some are concerned over a funding arrangement that gives the companies installing cameras a share of the revenue from fines. Companies change the timing of monitored lights by actions such as shortening yellow-light cycles – meaning more tickets and more revenue for the vendors, Crowell told the Southeast Missourian.

The effort could be brought back for consideration when lawmakers reconvene in January 2007.