Virginia nears new rules on ticket cams, spending transportation money

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Virginia lawmakers have endorsed various bills that cover ticket cameras, truck parking, transportation funding, and older drivers.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed into law a bill that 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.

Previously HB255, the new law requires that all red-light cameras have yellow times of at least three seconds. It takes effect July 1.

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 separate bill on the governor’s desk specifies that drivers found in violation at photo-monitored intersections would have a right to appeal to the circuit courts and that the appeal would be civil in nature. Fine amounts would also drop from $50 to $20.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association supports efforts to limit ticket cameras. Association 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.”

Another new law adds to the state’s list of communities that regulate or prohibit truck parking.

Currently, the counties of Arlington, Fairfax Hanover, Stafford and Prince William and the towns of Clifton, Herndon and Vienna have authority to enact ordinances to regulate or prohibit truck parking in residential areas.

HB9 adds the town of Blackstone to the list.

OOIDA says that communities and state DOTs should put a greater emphasis on adding parking and making safe parking more available for truckers.

Also headed to the governor’s desk is a bill that would prioritize money allocated in then-Gov. Bob McDonnell’s year’s five-year, $6 billion transportation funding plan approved a year ago.

Sponsored by Delegate Chris Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, HB2 would require the state to set a prioritization model for determining which transportation projects will first get attention.

Stolle said in prepared remarks that the landmark transportation reform plan approved a year ago gave Virginia the resources needed to create a strong and effective transportation system. He said his bill is intended to ensure that money is spent wisely and effectively.

Two more bills – HB1253 and SB513 – on the way to McAuliffe’s desk would create a new tolling and borrowing commission in Hampton Roads. The commission would be run by the top elected officials of each of the 14 counties and cities in the area. A handful of state lawmakers and transportation officials would also serve on the commission.

One more bill of interest sent to the governor’s desk would require drivers at age 75 (down from 80) to appear for an in-person license renewal with vision test.

HB771 would also require license renewals 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.

Supporters say the change is needed because statistics show that older drivers are more likely to be involved in wrecks than younger drivers. Opponents say the bill unnecessarily singles out the state’s oldest drivers.

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