Georgia bill would ban red-light cameras

| 2/13/2007

An effort in the Georgia House would strip away the ability of cities and counties in the state to use automated cameras to ticket drivers.

The cameras snap pictures of red-light runners or speeders' vehicle tags. A ticket for as much as $70 is mailed to the vehicles' owners, regardless who was driving at the time.

Sponsored by Rep. Bobby Franklin, R-Marietta, the bill would repeal a six-year-old Georgia law relating to traffic signal monitoring devices. The more than 20 cities and counties across the state that have since posted the cameras would be required to take them down.

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

Opponents question the effectiveness of such intersection cameras, arguing they have the potential to distract drivers and cause more fender-bender accidents. Others say the cameras are unconstitutional.

"You're forced to testify against yourself. You can't confront your accuser," Franklin told the Gwinnett Daily Post. "There's no due process."

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.

The bill - HB77 - is in the House Motor Vehicles Committee. The earliest the bill could be considered in committee is Thursday, Feb. 15.

- By Keith Goble, state legislative editor