Enforcement cameras sought for two Wyoming towns

| Friday, February 16, 2007

A Wyoming Senate panel has approved a bill that would allow “photo-red” enforcement cameras in Casper and Cheyenne.

The Senate Transportation Committee voted 4-1 Wednesday, Feb. 14, to send the bill to the full Senate after making changes to the House-approved version.

As introduced, the bill – HB203 – would have allowed cities and towns throughout the state to post red-light cameras and speed cameras. The Senate panel turned the bill into a pilot program that would permit cameras to be erected at one location in both Casper and Cheyenne.

The cameras snap pictures of violators’ vehicles and license plates. Warnings or tickets are mailed to the vehicles’ owners, regardless who was driving at the time.

Supporters say the equipment encourages compliance with the law and saves lives by reducing collisions. Opponents question the claim that cameras are solely intended to keep people safe.

“The motivation of every player in this deal is economics. Whether it’s the local jurisdiction or the manufacturer: That’s not reasonable justification for doing that,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

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.

If approved by the full Senate, the bill would head back to the House for approval of changes.

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