Virginia bills cover ticket cams, incident reports, towing

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, January 09, 2014

Among the issues covered in bills introduced at the Virginia General Assembly are ticket cameras, traffic incident reports, right-of-way, towing, older drivers and lap pets.

The first bill is intended to improve safety, and cut into profits, by standardizing yellow times at intersections around the state posted with red-light cameras.

The devices are used in nine communities and two counties in the state.

Sponsored by Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William, HB255 would require that all red-light cameras have yellow times of at least three seconds.

According to the National Motorists Association, lengthening yellow times reduces red-light running incidents 60 to 90 percent.

"It will almost always reduce violation rates far more than cameras," said NMA consultant Jim Walker.

A related bill covers engineering analysis that must be done before local governments can post ticket cameras. Delegate Joseph Morrissey, D-Henrico, offered a bill that would also require an analysis be performed before a ticket program can be renewed.

HB116 also specifies that photo-monitoring of lanes where turns are permitted could only be authorized if a safety analysis determines that "a flashing yellow arrow signal indication would not adequately control the movement."

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association supports efforts to limit ticket cameras. OOIDA officials say the focus on the revenue-generating devices ignores the more logical and reasoned approach to roads and traffic.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer has said the goal should be to keep traffic moving in as safe a manner as possible. He has also said that communities would be better served to pursue "intelligent traffic lights that actually monitor traffic and are triggered by traffic flow."

Other bills of interest introduced at the Virginia General Assembly include:

  • SB99 would require State Police to make available copies of traffic incident reports upon request.
  • HB277 would clarify the responsibility of drivers to yield the right-of-way to allow pedestrians to cross highways at marked crosswalks. Specifically, drivers would be required to stop whenever a pedestrian is waiting in the highway median. Violators would face fines of up to $500.
  • SB8 would permit people convicted of violent crimes to become tow truck drivers 15 years after their conviction. State law now prohibits offenders of violent crimes from registering to drive a tow truck.
  • SB180 would require drivers at age 75 – down from 80 – to appear for an in-person license renewal with vision test. License renewals would also be required ever five years instead of every eight years under current law. A course in crash prevention would also be made available in lieu of sentences for driving offenses.
  • HB212 would end free rein to pets inside cars and trucks. The bill would forbid anyone to hold a pet while driving.
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