Massachusetts bill would open door to ticket cameras

November 17, 2023

Keith Goble


A Massachusetts legislative panel recently heard testimony on a bill that would authorize the use of speed ticket cameras and red-light ticket cameras.

Currently, the state of Massachusetts does not allow the use of automated enforcement. More than 500 communities in 26 states use 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 believe 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.

Massachusetts bill opens door to automated enforcement

The Joint Committee on Transportation held a hearing to discuss a bill that would permit the use of automated enforcement in certain locales around the state.

Rep. Steve Owens, D-Watertown, told committee members his bill would open the door to the use of ticket cameras.

“This bill establishes an automated enforcement pilot program to allow just 10 cities or towns to place either red-light cameras or speed cameras in populated locations with high crash rates,” Owens testified.

H3393 would authorize ticket cameras to be used for running red lights, speeding and passing a school bus with lights activated. The maximum penalty for offenders would be $25.

“The last thing we want is for this to be a revenue-generating endeavor,” Owens added. “We want it to be a safety endeavor first. That’s why we have low fees.”

Participating communities would be capped at one camera per 25,000 residents. Locales with fewer than 2,500 residents would be prohibited from using ticket cameras.

Cameras attached to school buses would not be included in the number of automated systems in a city or town.

To determine the placement of ticket cameras, Owens said cities or towns must present the Massachusetts Department of Transportation with three years of crash data at proposed locations.

Additionally, Owens said automated ticket cameras reduce “friction” between police and the public.

“I believe this bill will simultaneously improve traffic safety and decrease police contact with over-policed populations in the Commonwealth.”

Previous failed effort

The proposed pilot program follows in the footsteps of a failed pursuit in 2021 by then-Gov. Charlie Baker that included a provision addressing red-light running offenses in the state.

The governor failed to convince state lawmakers to adopt a measure that would authorize cities and towns to install ticket cameras at intersections. Before cameras could be posted, the bill stated interested communities must hold public hearings and seek approval from local governing boards.

Red-light runners would have faced $25 fines.

Time has come?

Owens believes now is the time to bring automated enforcement to the Bay State.

“I think the time has really come for Massachusetts to join the 26 other states that allow some sort of automated traffic enforcement,” he said.

The committee did not vote on H3393. LL

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