Red-light camera bill dies in Georgia

| Monday, May 14, 2007

A bill has died in the Georgia Senate that would have allowed cities and counties to continue to use automated cameras at intersections, but with new restrictions on them.

The Senate Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee voted to table the bill – HB77 – in the waning hours of the legislative session, effectively killing it. The House previously approved it 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 bill would have mandated that 75 percent of the profit local governments would otherwise make from violators be directed to the state’s general fund for trauma care.

Supporters of the bill said the change would help ensure that cities are using the cameras to improve safety and not as money makers.

Opponents said it would be unfair to force cities willing to invest in the cameras to give most of the fine revenue to the state. They also questioned whether the state’s trauma network actually would get the money.

The bill also would have prohibited local governments from decreasing the duration of traffic lights’ amber time. In addition, it would have required 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.

Comments