Maine bans use of ticket cameras

| 6/17/2009

Lawmakers in Maine say no thanks to revenue enhancements via ticket cameras. They are the 14th state to outlaw the enforcement tool.

Maine Gov. John Baldacci signed into law a bill to prevent the state, or communities within the state, from tapping the use of photo enforcement to nab drivers breaking traffic laws. The state joins Mississippi and Montana in banning the technology this year.

While traffic surveillance cameras are not in use in Maine, the new law was a proactive step taken to make sure they don’t start showing up around the state. The ban applies to red-light and speed cameras.

Previously LD1234, the new rule makes an exception for cameras on the Maine Turnpike to help ensure payment at toll booths.

The recent wave of states to prohibit the use of photo enforcement has been a blow to red-light and speed camera advocates who say the devices are about safety and using technology in a helpful way. Others say the devices free up police to address bigger issues.

Opponents, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, question the claim that cameras are solely intended to keep people safe. Rep. Richard Cebra, R-Naples, shared that concern.

“In many places around the country, these cameras have become nothing more than a moneymaker for municipalities,” he said in a written statement.

There also is a question about the effectiveness of such cameras. Opponents argue 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.

“While on the surface these cameras may appear to increase public safety, recent studies have shown that they actually increase the occurrences of accidents at intersections where the public is aware that there is a camera,” Cebra said.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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