South Dakota panel takes hands-off approach to traffic cameras

| 2/9/2010

Even though more and more states are looking to forbid the use of camera enforcement, a South Dakota legislative panel has opted against outlawing the use of cameras to nab speeders and red-light runners in the state.

Currently, one intersection in Sioux Falls, SD, employs the use of cameras to make sure motorists and truck drivers are following the rules. About 5,000 tickets each year are issued at the intersection at 10th Street and Minnesota Avenue.

Rep. Peggy Gibson, D-Huron, told members of the House Transportation Committee that the cameras at the lone intersection generated $5,437 in revenue a year ago.

Critics of automated enforcement, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, say the focus should be on public safety, not on generating revenue. Advocates for the bill to prohibit the use of intersection cameras said action needs to be taken.

“I think the city has overstepped its bounds,” Rep. Manny Steele, R-Sioux Falls, said at the meeting. He called the camera system “a trap.”

Despite the concerns about the cameras being a cash grab, the committee voted 9-3 to kill the bill – HB1140. Critics of the plan to put a stop to use of the technology successfully argued that it is a local issue.

“It sounds good in concept … but I’m reluctant,” Rep. Kent Juhnke, R-Vivian, told lawmakers before the vote. “Once again, a local fight got brought to this capitol. This is a fight that should’ve been fought in Sioux Falls. It’s a city ordinance.”

Others cited a desire to hold off from taking any action. Rep. Shantel Krebs, R-Renner, advised lawmakers before the vote to wait until a pending lawsuit wraps up. The lawsuit addresses a fatal accident at the Sioux Falls intersection where cameras were later placed.

To view other legislative activities of interest for South Dakota in 2010, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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