Indiana Senate OKs bill to authorize red-light camera pilot program

| 3/2/2009

Could there be a “golden goose” arriving in some Indiana towns soon?

The Indiana Senate voted 28-22 to advance a bill to the House that would allow towns in the state to place cameras at intersections to catch red-light runners. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association questions the motives behind the effort.

The bill would give the green light to 10 cities to place cameras at stoplights as part of a pilot program.

Participating cities would be required to adopt ordinances for the program, which uses a stationary camera to photograph the license plate of vehicles caught entering the intersection when the light is red. Authorization from the Indiana Department of Transportation to post the cameras also would be mandated.

Police officers would review the photos before sending a citation, which could cost the vehicle’s registered owner up to $100. Fines would be applied to defray the cost of the system. The bill was amended to route any remaining funds to the local road and street fund and law enforcement funds.

Another provision in the bill would mandate that yellow lights have a duration of at least five seconds.

Advocates say the bill is about safety and using technology in a helpful way. Others say authorizing the use of cameras frees up police to address bigger issues.

Opponents, including OOIDA, 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,” Todd Spencer, OOIDA’s executive vice president, told Land Line.

Others question the effectiveness of such intersection cameras, arguing they have the potential to distract drivers and cause more fender-bender accidents. In fact, multiple studies have found that crashes actually increased in cities with red-light cameras.

The bill – SB389 – is in the House Interstate and International Cooperation Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Indiana in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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