Ticket camera rule changes pursued in 13 states

March 21, 2018

Keith Goble


The use of automated cameras to ticket drivers is once again an issue at multiple statehouses throughout the nation.

More than 500 communities around the country employ the use of red-light or speed cameras to nab drivers who disobey traffic rules, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety reports.

Supporters of the devices say they help make roadways and intersections safer by changing drivers’ behaviors. Opponents counter that ticket cameras are a money grab.

Iowa lawmakers are close to implementing a rule that would place regulations on the use of automatic traffic cameras.

The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency reports that as of January eight cities around the state operate or have operated a total of 78 speed and red-light camera devices. It is estimated the cities collected $12 million in revenue via the devices during the past year.

The House and Senate have approved differing versions of a bill that would put in place rules on the use of the ticketing mechanism.

House lawmakers previously endorsed a plan to outright ban the use of cameras in school zones, road work zones and other high-risk areas. The Senate amended the bill to instead impose regulations on use of the cameras.

SF220 would allow cities and counties to use ticket cameras as long as any profits are directed for public safety and secondary roads. Voters also would be given the opportunity to disband any camera program through a petition process. Police also would be required to sign off on each citation.

In addition, local authorities would be prohibited from imposing a civil penalty in excess of Iowa code for the same or similar violations.

In the meantime, the Iowa Department of Transportation has ordered the cameras turned off. The Iowa Supreme Court is considering an appeal of some tickets issued by the devices.

A separate bill approved by the Senate on a 32-18 vote would prohibit automated traffic-enforcement cameras. SF2148 has moved to the House Local Government Committee.

One more bill in the House committee, HF2118, would do the same.

Multiple efforts at the statehouse address automated ticketing programs.

Eight communities that include Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Auburn, Midfield and Selma use red-light cameras. The cities of Montgomery and Midfield also employ speed cameras.

A House bill would ban automated traffic cameras statewide and would repeal any city ordinances allowing their use. HB365 would apply the rule to red-light and speed cameras.

The bill is in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.

Two other bills focus on use of the ticketing mechanisms in two Birmingham-area municipalities.

HB460 would permit use of ticket cameras in the city of Fairfield. HB517 would apply the same permission for the city of Jasper.

The bills are in committee.

Two bills cover the topic of automated enforcement cameras. One effort is intended to limit use of the devices while the other bill would impose an outright ban.

The first bill would require police to examine a photo taken from a photo enforcement system to determine whether or not a violation has occurred. Companies that operate the cameras would not make the decision.

Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. and American Traffic Solutions support the effort. The Arizona-based companies own and maintain cameras in communities around the country.

The Senate has already approved the bill. SB1110 awaits a final House floor vote before it could move to the governor’s desk.

House lawmakers have approved a separate effort to ban the use of ticket cameras along local roads. It has moved to the Senate.

Arizona law already prohibits photo enforcement along state highways.

HB2208 would prohibit state and local law authorities from using photo radar to identify violators of laws regarding excessive speed or failure to obey a traffic device.

Rep. John Allen, R- Scottsdale, voted in favor of the bill. While speaking on the House floor, he cited his belief that the goal of photo radar is not to change behavior.

“Photo radar is a tax hidden behind law enforcement,” Allen said. “The cities that use them do it in the old fashioned speed-trap manner. They are doing it for revenue.”

The bill has been assigned to the Senate Transportation and Technology Committee. Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, the committee’s chairman, however has indicated the bill will not leave his committee.

Speed cameras could soon get authorization in Connecticut.

One Senate bill calls for establishing a pilot program for speed detecting cameras and to erect speed warning signs along stretches of Interstate 95. Specifically, authority to post cameras would be given to as many as four municipalities at no more than five intersections.

Stamford Mayor David Martin testified before the Legislature’s Transportation Committee in favor of the bill, SB388.

“There is no perfect solution to this growing, urgent problem, but it will help us move from just talking about what we can do to actually trying new ways to address this serious problem,” Martin said.

Three bills at the statehouse are intended to rein in use of automated enforcement programs.

HB4372 would prohibit the state Department of Transportation from approving red-light camera use in municipalities or counties unless the local government can provide proof of a “significant” increase in safety throughout the state attributed to the technology.

HB4373 would forbid DuPage County and its localities from using red-light cameras.

HB5071 would mandate that before a municipality installs and operates an automated enforcement system, the municipality must send notification of its intention to any municipalities within 15 miles.

The bills are in multiple House committees.

The House voted unanimously to advance a bill that would mandate a ticket issued by a red-light camera could only be issued if the yellow signal duration is in line with state and federal standards.

The IIHS reports there are six Maryland counties, the city of Baltimore, and 22 other jurisdictions using red-light cameras.

HB204 would permit drivers issued violations to challenge citations from locations with shorter yellow times.

The bill is in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

A second House-approved bill would authorize Prince George’s County and its municipalities to use speed cameras on state Route 210, or Indian Head Highway.

Maryland law now limits use of speed cameras along highway work zones and in school zones.

Delegate Jay Walker, D-Prince George’s, said the exception is needed for SR 210 because it is the “deadliest highway in the state of Maryland.”

HB175 is in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.

Two pieces of legislation call for much of the same rule changes.

SB847 and HB1386 include provisions to require police to notify motorists’ in person who have been charged with traffic violations. Police would have 24 hours to make the notification.

The in-person notification requirement would not apply to data and information collected at weigh stations.

Communities with camera systems already in place would have one year to complete or terminate contracts. At that time, they would be required to comply with changes in the legislation.

The bills are in committee.

New Jersey
Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti, D-Bayonne, is behind a bill to permit the use of speed enforcement cameras in his state’s highway work zones.

Ticket cameras are not a new issue in the Garden State. About two dozen communities throughout New Jersey employed more than 70 red-light cameras through 2014. The controversial five-year program was sunset at that time.

Chiaravalloti’s bill would bring back automated ticketing. Specifically, the legislation would create a five-year pilot program to use traffic cameras in work zones.

Automated enforcement cameras would be used to detect drivers exceeding the posted speed limit by at least 11 mph when workers are present. Registered owners of vehicles found in violation would receive $100 fines in the mail. No points would be added to a driver’s record.

Three-quarters of the fine revenue would be allotted to the New Jersey State Police. About half of their allotment would be designated to pay for additional police presence in work zones.

The bill, A3082, is in the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee.

New York
An Assembly bill would require signs alerting drivers of red-light and speed monitoring systems at least 100 hundred feet from areas where the systems are in operation.

A8971 is in the Assembly Transportation Committee.

The House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee has advanced a bill intended to make automated ticketing operations too expensive for local law enforcement throughout the state. Specifically, HB410 would require all revenue from red-light and speed cameras to be deducted from municipalities’ state aid payments.

All civil traffic violations, such as ticket camera offenses, would also be required to be filed in municipal courts instead of mayor’s courts or an administrative hearing officer. Municipalities would be responsible for paying the court costs.

Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, is the bill sponsor. Seitz was the sponsor of a 2014 bill signed into law to severely limit the ability of police to issue automated tickets. Among the provisions in the law was a requirement for police officers to be present at red-light and speed camera sites to witness violations.

The city of Dayton later challenged the law in court. In July 2017 the Ohio Supreme Court ruled the state-imposed restrictions interfere with local authority.

According to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, at the time the law took effect in 2015 there were about 250 ticket cameras in use by at least 14 municipalities throughout the state. As required by the 2-year-old law, the annual expense to station officers at each location was estimated to be $73 million.

In the past two years multiple communities opted to shut down their ticket programs. Since the court decision this summer, the city of Dayton has reinstalled ticket cameras. The city began sending out $85 tickets for violations on Nov. 1.

Automated ticketing has faced a lot of pushback in Ohio in recent years. In November 2014, voters in the city of Cleveland and its suburb of Maple Heights approved ballot questions that mirror the bill’s requirement for police officers to be on the scene to hand out citations.

Nine Ohio locales have acted in the past 12 years to outlaw use of the enforcement tool. Cities that have taken action are Steubenville, Cincinnati, Heath, Chillicothe, Garfield Heights, Ashtabula, South Euclid, Maple Heights and Cleveland.

The bill awaits further consideration in the House.

One House bill would permit the use of speed cameras in construction or maintenance zones. HB3270 specifies that vehicle owners would not be held liable for recorded violations if the driver at time of the violation cannot be identified via the photograph or other recorded images.

The House Public Safety Committee has voted to forward the bill for further consideration.

A Senate-approved bill would authorize speed cameras in active work zones on interstates and the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

SB172 would authorize a three-year pilot program for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to post speed cameras. As introduced, the bill called for setting up a five-year pilot program.

The same speed limit threshold and fine amounts included in the New Jersey legislation apply to the Pennsylvania bill.

Sen. David Argall, R-Schuylkill, says changes are needed to driver behavior in work zones and motorists need to be reminded to slow down in affected areas. He highlights figures from 2016 that show there were 2,075 crashes in Pennsylvania work zones, including 16 deaths.

“The goal of this legislation is to safeguard the men and women who work on repairing our roads and infrastructure in order to make them safer and more efficient for motorists,” Argall said in previous remarks.

Argall’s bill is in the House Transportation Committee.

Bills in each statehouse chamber call for permitting the city of Milwaukee to implement speed enforcement and red-light camera systems.

State law now forbids the use of such systems.

AB859/SB707 would grant the city permission for a limited, five-year pilot program. Cameras could be placed at “high-risk intersections and roads” in Milwaukee.

Rep. Joel Kitchens, R-Sturgeon Bay, said in committee testimony the city had more than 1,000 crashes in 2016 due to disregard of traffic signals, leading to more than 550 injuries.

“This bill is necessary to increase compliance with our traffic laws, making our roadways safer throughout the city, and therefore, the state,” testified Rep. David Crowley, D-Milwaukee.

The bills are in committee.