States look to change ticket camera rules

| 2/4/2011

Ticket cameras are a perennial topic in states throughout the country. So far this year the issue is again drawing discussion in statehouses ? both for and against the enforcement tool.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 21 states have laws permitting at least one type of automated enforcement. Conversely, 10 states have acted to prohibit use of the enforcement tool.

In Missouri, the state?s Highways and Transportation Commission adopted a policy that outlines how cities and counties can apply to get red-light and speed cameras posted.

Previously, a freeze was placed on new cameras on state highways pending a state DOT review to address concerns that they were being used to boost coffers instead of safety. The review found that side-impact crashes were nearly cut in half at intersections posted with red-light cameras while rear-end collisions rose 14 percent.

The new policy includes conditions for installation and calls for greater oversight. Also addressed is a policy on speed cameras. The cameras used on state highways can only be used in school zones, work zones and travel safe zones.

Despite the decision handed down by the commission, lawmakers continue to pursue efforts that would discourage or outright ban use of the technology.

News of the policy led one Iowa state lawmaker to call for similar action while other legislators are pursuing an outright ban on Iowa?s use of automated enforcement cameras.

House Transportation Chairman Dave Tjepkes has asked the state DOT for information on how states regulate the use of ticket cameras.

Tjepkes, a retired Iowa State Patrol trooper, said that while he believes the cameras provide benefits, he is concerned they are used simply to make money.

OOIDA leadership says the focus on ticket 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.

Other notable efforts to address ticket cameras:

A Maryland lawmaker is pursuing an effort to rein in use of speed cameras in highway construction zones. Sen. Jim Brochin, D-Towson, wants to tweak the rule to limit use of the devices in work zones only when workers are on the job.

In South Carolina, a perceived loophole is being addressed. A bill would expressly outlaw speeding tickets based on photos. Police would also be required to directly hand tickets to drivers within an hour of a violation.

A South Dakota bill would flat-out forbid the use of camera enforcement.

Multiple bills are under consideration in Tennessee. One bill would prohibit tickets from being issued based solely on evidence from ticket cameras. A separate effort would make tickets issued from cameras invalid for rolling right turns. Another bill is intended to discourage use of the devices by requiring 95 percent of revenue by cameras to be earmarked for education.

Virginia allows communities around the state to use red-light cameras, but one bill would prohibit other communities from adding the ticket cameras.

Voters in Washington state would get the final say on whether they want automated enforcement cameras. One bill would require yellow signal times to be one second longer than the state standard. The second bill would require a one-second grace period after the signal turns red before a photo ticket can be issued.

Two Indiana bills would authorize speed cameras in work zones and permit use of red light cameras elsewhere.

In Nevada, the state DOT is pursuing a reversal on the state?s stance on the technology. State law now prohibits use of camera radar by law enforcement officers or agencies.

Truckers are under the gun in New York. Targeted at trucks using roadways posted as a ?No Truck? zone, it would allow New York City to set up a local law or ordinance to create a pilot truck weight photo-monitoring system. As many as 50 intersections could be outfitted with devices to snap pictures of trucks.

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