Washington state bills would reform ticket cameras

| 1/21/2011

A Washington House panel will get first crack at legislation that would give voters the final say on whether they want automated enforcement cameras.

The devices, which are used in cities that include Seattle, Federal Way and Tacoma, snap pictures of red-light runners? or speeders? vehicles. A ticket is mailed to the owner of the vehicle, regardless of who was driving at the time.

Two bills in the House Transportation Committee attempt to rein in the use of traffic cameras to issue tickets for running red lights and speeding.

Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw, is the sponsor of both bills, which would require a vote in cities considering installing traffic cameras. They offer similar approaches to address concerns about the technology being used more as a revenue generator than to benefit public safety.

The first bill ? HB1098 ? would require yellow signal times to be one second longer than the state standard. The second bill ? HB1099 ? would require a one-second grace period after the signal turns red before a photo ticket can be issued.

Critics say the Legislature has no business getting involved in regulating law enforcement.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says the focus on traffic cameras ignores the more logical and reasoned approach to roads and traffic.

?The goal should be to keep traffic moving in as safe a manner as possible,? said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer.

Communities should be pursuing ?intelligent traffic lights that actually monitor traffic and are triggered by traffic flow,? he said.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Washington, click here.

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