Indiana bill to authorize red-light cameras stalls

| 5/20/2009

Indiana towns with visions of a “golden goose” arriving soon to help boost city coffers didn’t like the ending to the most recent legislative chapter on the effort to authorize red-light cameras.

A House panel applied the brakes to legislation that sought to allow towns in the state to place cameras at intersections to catch red-light scofflaws. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has questioned the motives behind efforts to use the enforcement tool.

The Indiana bill stalled in the House Interstate and International Cooperation Committee, effectively killing it for the year. Instead the previously approved Senate bill is expected to be the topic of a legislative study this summer.

Rep. Earl Harris, D-East Chicago, said lawmakers would be better served to first study the issue before authorizing the use of red light cameras.

The bill – SB389 – called for giving the green light to 10 cities to place cameras at stoplights as part of a pilot program.

Participating cities would have been 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 routed any remaining funds to the local road and street fund and law enforcement funds.

Another provision in the bill called for mandating that yellow lights have a duration of at least five seconds.

Advocates said the bill is about safety and using technology in a helpful way. Others said 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.

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.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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