Two Indiana towns push for red light camera permission

| 8/22/2008

The mayors of two towns in northeast Indiana say they’ll ask state lawmakers to authorize use of cameras to nab red light runners. The cameras snap pictures of red-light runners’ or speeders’ vehicles. A ticket is mailed to the vehicles’ owners, regardless of who was driving at the time.

Both Lafayette and West Lafayette mayors are forced to lobby legislators for use of the enforcement tool. Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter issued an opinion that cities and towns cannot use cameras to catch drivers who run red lights until legislation is approved to authorize the enforcement tool.

The two cities have installed the cameras at intersections, but they’ve only been used to research how many drivers run red lights, the Journal & Courier reported.

Efforts to authorize use of the equipment previously have failed at the statehouse.

Hopeful that the minds of lawmakers have changed, Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski and West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis say they will bring up the idea to legislators.

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

Others question the claim that cameras are solely intended to keep people safe. They say the motivation to use the technology is economic.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Indiana in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor