Red-light camera bill advances in Georgia

| Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Georgia House has approved a bill that would allow cities and counties to continue to use automated cameras at intersections, but puts new restrictions on them.

House lawmakers voted 110-60 to forward the bill – HB77 – to the Senate after removing a requirement to prohibit localities from using the technology 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. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, the revised version would mandate that 75 percent of the profit local governments would make from violators be directed to the state’s general fund for trauma care.

Supporters of the bill say the change will help ensure that cities are using the cameras to improve safety and not as money makers. Opponents question whether the state’s trauma network actually will get the money.

The bill also would prohibit local governments from decreasing the duration of traffic lights’ amber time. It also would require traffic engineering studies before cameras are posted.

As introduced, Loudermilk’s bill sought to repeal the 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 have been required to take them down.

Some lawmakers said the rewritten bill would accomplish a similar goal because cities and counties would be less likely to install cameras if they can’t keep the bulk of profits, the Macon Telegraph reported.

The bill is awaiting consideration in the Senate Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.

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