States act on ticket cameras

| 6/6/2011

Use of technology to enforce traffic rules is an annual point of contention at statehouses. This year is no different with lawmakers in multiple states addressing whether the enforcement tool should be allowed.

The Tennessee General Assembly approved a bill intended to help ensure that communities use ticket cameras to improve safety, not as revenue generators. A bill on its way to Gov. Bill Haslam’s desk for his expected signature would standardize photo enforcement camera systems statewide.

If signed into law, traffic studies would need to show the system is necessary. The bill – SB1684 – would also prohibit cities from issuing tickets to drivers who fail to come to a complete stop when making a right turn on red. In addition, cities would be blocked from issuing photo tickets for making a right turn at a red unless a sign is posted prohibiting right turns on red.

Cameras could not be located within a mile of a 10 mph drop in speed.

Communities with cameras already in place would not be affected until their contracts are renewed. Also, the rule would not apply to mobile traffic cameras operated from vans.

In Alabama, a new law allows the city of Montgomery to use cameras to enforce speeding in certain areas. The devices can be posted inside marked police vehicles.

Gov. Robert Bentley signed the rule into law permitting the city to use cameras to enforce speeding in construction zones, near schools and in neighborhoods. Fines could be as much as $100.

Another bill addresses the use of ticket cameras in a California city.

California law already allows the city and county of San Francisco to issue citations based on photos snapped of parking violations in transit-only lanes. City-owned public transit vehicles can be outfitted with cameras to record parking violations occurring in the nearly 15 miles of affected lanes.

The San Francisco program is slated to sunset at the end of this year. In response, Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, has introduced a bill that would make use of the cameras permanent.

In the bill analysis, Ma stated that “parking in these lanes can significantly increase the time it takes to make even a short bus journey and inconvenience other road users.”

The bill – AB1041 – is awaiting consideration in a Senate committee. The Assembly already approved it on a 70-2 vote.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer 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,” Spencer said.

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

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