States pursue action on ticket cameras

September 28, 2021

Keith Goble

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Steps are being taken at statehouses around the country in favor of and in opposition to 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 statehouse activity on ticket cameras.

New York

In New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul has signed into law a bill to 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.

Previously A485, the new law authorizes a pilot program on the use of the technology in work zones. Data will be collected on how much money the cameras save on labor costs for speed enforcement by police.

“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.

Florida

One Florida state lawmaker is renewing an effort to 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.

Numbers available from the agency show that municipalities statewide have sent out more than 1 million notices of violation annually for the past four years.

Additionally, the state’s numbers show the total crashes occurring at intersections before and after red-light cameras were installed has increased by 15%. The number of fatal crashes, however, has decreased from 28 to 24.

Renewed effort to repeal

Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-in-the-Hills, is behind a bill to repeal the program allowing the use of ticket cameras. Locales with programs already in place would be required to remove the devices by 2024.

Sabatini has cited the program’s failure to improve driving behavior for his attempt to repeal the law.

He has introduced legislation to kill the program in each of the previous four legislative sessions. Undeterred, he has prefiled for 2022 the same legislation.

The bill, HB6029, awaits assignment to committee.

Illinois

A similar pursuit at the Illinois statehouse is intended to rein in use of automated enforcement programs.

There are 68 locales around the state that use red-light cameras, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports. The city of Chicago has red-light cameras and speed cameras. Additionally, speed cameras are permitted in work zones.

Sponsored by Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, R-Elmhurst, the bill would permit citizens to challenge red-light camera citations.

Mazzochi cites corruption concerns with automated enforcement programs. She highlights the prosecution of former state Sen. Martin Sandoval, who allegedly accepted bribes for pursing adoption of red-light camera enforcement.

Her bill, HB4102, would allow drivers cited for red-light camera citations to challenge the tickets in court if the cameras in question are “associated with civil or criminal corruption charges.”

“When the placement of a red-light camera has nothing to do with safety, but involve a cynical revenue grab inextricably linked to public corruption, individuals should have the right to protest them in court, and judges should be empowered to reject these tickets,” Mazzochi said in a news release.

She adds that municipalities around the state has reportedly collected over $1 billion from red-light cameras between 2008 and 2018.

HB4102 is in the House Rules Committee. 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.

PrePass

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.