Legislation in nine states addresses ticket camera rules
March 30, 2021
Discussion continues at statehouses from California to Connecticut to address the use of automated cameras to ticket drivers.
More than 500 communities around the country employ the use of red-light and/or speed cameras to nab drivers who disobey traffic rules, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety reports.
Officials with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association say the focus on the revenue-generating devices ignores the more logical and reasoned approach to roads and traffic: keep traffic moving in as safe a manner as possible.
Below is a rundown of recent action on the topic.
The state of California allows the use of red-light cameras. The ticketing tool is used in more than 30 areas around the state.
Speed cameras, however, are prohibited in the state.
An Assembly bill would authorize cities across the state to use speed enforcement cameras.
Sponsored by Assemblymember David Chiu, D-San Francisco, the bill calls for the California Department of Transportation to come up with guidelines for local governments to setup speed camera pilot programs.
Fines would be capped at $125. No points would be added to an offender’s license.
Additional details about the programs would be determined by a state working group.
Supporters say use of the enforcement tool makes travel safer. They add that it reduces police interactions with drivers while maintaining driver accountability.
The bill, AB550, is in the Assembly Transportation Committee.
Speed safety systems are about saving lives.
Over the years and especially during the pandemic, our streets have become more & more deadly.
It’s time we say enough is enough & put policies in place that we know make us all safer.https://t.co/NbHwZlPMZ6
— David Chiu (@DavidChiu) March 24, 2021
Across the country in Connecticut, one bill is intended to be proactive in preventing the use of red-light cameras.
Currently, there are no communities in the state using red-light or speed cameras.
Sponsored by Rep. Kara Rochelle, D-Ansonia, the bill would prohibit the use of red-light cameras in the state. The bill does not include a provision addressing speed cameras.
HB6078 is in the Joint Transportation Committee.
An ongoing effort at the Florida statehouse would ban municipalities from using red-light cameras to issue citations.
There are 58 local governments around the state operating more than 500 red-light cameras, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Fine amounts of $158 are dispensed for actions that include turning right on red, failing to come to a complete stop, or crossing the line where a camera is focused on an intersection.
Sponsored by Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-in-the-Hills, HB6009 would repeal the program allowing the use of the ticket tool. Locales with programs already in place would be required to remove the devices by 2024.
Sabatini has cited data from the state that show the program has not improved driving behavior for his attempt to repeal the law.
The bill awaits consideration in multiple committees.
Two Maryland bills halfway through the statehouse cover the use of traffic control signal monitoring systems.
There are six counties around the state that have red-light camera programs. The city of Baltimore and 22 other jurisdictions use the devices. Violators face fines up to $100.
The first bill, HB967, would authorize two cameras to be posted on Interstate 83 in Baltimore City. One camera would be posted northbound, and one would be posted southbound.
The city already posts speed cameras and red-light cameras on certain roadways.
Sponsored by Delegate Tony Bridges, D-Baltimore City, the bill calls for fines collected to be used for roadway improvements on the stretch of highway.
Natasha Mehu of the mayor’s office says speed cameras are necessary.
“Traditional methods of speed enforcement are not possible on I-83 within Baltimore City due to the existing width of roadway shoulders, the inability to widen shoulders due to fiscal and engineering constraints, and resource challenges of the Baltimore Police Department,” Mehu wrote in testimony.
The second House-approved bill, HB971, would allow a speed camera to be posted along state Route 333 in Talbot County. Specifically, the camera would be placed at the intersection of state Route 333 and Bonfield Avenue.
The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bills Thursday, April 1.
In New York, an Assembly bill would allow the state to move forward with placing speed cameras in construction zones.
Data from the New York State Department of Transportation shows that over a seven-year period there were 3,450 wrecks in work zones on state highways. There were 50 fatalities and more than 1,100 injuries to drivers and workers.
“Stronger enforcement of speeding in work zones has the potential to significantly reduce both the incidence of motorists and worker fatalities while training better overall motorist behavior,” Assemblyman William Magnarelli, D-Syracuse, wrote in justification for the change.
The bill, A485, is in the Assembly Transportation Committee.
An Oklahoma Senate-approved bill would prohibit the use of red-light cameras in the state.
Currently, there is no community in the state that employs the ticketing mechanism.
Sponsored by Rep. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, the bill would forbid all law enforcement agencies in the state from contracting with a private entity to setup photo monitoring devices to detect traffic violations.
SB441 is in the House Public Safety Committee.
Pursuit underway in Oregon would make permanent the city of Portland’s speed radar program.
There are 11 cities in Oregon, including Portland, where photo radar is allowed on segments of roads. Police are required to review potential violations. Tickets are issued for violators exceeding the posted speed by more than 10 mph.
One House bill, HB2530, would eliminate the 2024 sunset date for the city of Portland’s program.
Additionally, authorization for speed cameras would be extended to all cities with populations of at least 50,000. The change would affect about a dozen locales.
Cameras would only be allowed in areas designated as “urban high-crash corridors.” The classification would cover areas designated as a safety risk by the Oregon Department of Transportation.
A second bill, HB3357, would allow “trained staff” other than police officers to review camera photos.
The bills are in the Joint Committee on Transportation.
Another bill in the committee deals solely with the city of Unity. HB2019 would authorize the use of speed cameras along U.S. 26.
One Rhode Island Senate bill would authorize the expansion of the state’s speed camera program.
Currently, municipalities around the state are allowed to adopt ordinances to use speed cameras in school zones. The cities of Pawtucket and Providence are the only locales to act. Violators face $50 fines.
The bill would authorize the use of speed cameras on all state and local roads.
S64 is in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In Wyoming, the House Transportation Committee voted 6-3 to kill a bill to permit the use of cameras to enforce multiple traffic violations. Among the violations included are speed limits, size and weight limits.
Senate lawmakers previously approved SF3 on a 19-11 vote.
The fiscal note attached to the bill estimated that if cameras are fully implemented along I-80 and I-25, in Teton Pass, and in construction zones and school zones, citation revenue could top $7 million annually. LL
More state trends
Keith Goble, state legislative editor for Land Line Media, keeps track of many trends among statehouses across the U.S. Here are some recent articles by him.