2/26/2015Federal Bill Promotes Speed Cameras Over Red Light Cameras
Colorado congressman proposes national ban on red light cameras while promoting speed cameras.
A member of Congress wants to establish a federal preference for speed cameras over red light cameras with a new law. US Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-Colorado) last week introduced what he called a bill to prohibit automated traffic enforcement, but the actual text of the legislation gives federal approval to the use of certain types of speed cameras.
The proposal would, if enacted, allow state or local government authorities to deploy photo radar on "any segment of roadway open to traffic and immediately adjacent to land on which repair, maintenance, construction or related work is being conducted" or "any segment of roadway that is not more than 300 feet from the property of a school."
Perlmutter's bill would ban all red light cameras and some speed cameras, but Perlmutter's description of his bill makes no mention of the exceptions it contains for school and repair zone photo radar.
"Police officers are the only sure way to apprehend seriously impaired, reckless or other dangerous drivers," Perlmutter said in a statement. "All of us are concerned with reducing accidents and reckless driving but it is not evident photo radar cameras improve highway safety, reduce accidents or improve traffic flow... My constituents tell me these cameras are excessive and seem to do little to improve public safety."
While a ban on red light cameras would be a setback for the photo enforcement industry, speed cameras generate far more revenue and represent a more important business opportunity. The language of Perlmutter's bill is similar to that found in Maryland, where "school zone" cameras are frequently placed where there are no children, such as adult education centers and administrative offices where no classes are held.
The photo ticketing industry has on several past occasions advanced its legislative agenda through bills that appear on the surface to be restrictions on the use of photo enforcement. In Tennessee, for example, the General Assembly never directly authorized the use of red light cameras. Lawmakers instead introduced a one-sentence bill that prohibited the issuance of points on the licenses of photo ticket recipients. The courts and the state attorney general (view opinion) said that was proof of the legislature's acceptance of widespread red light cameras and speed camera use.
A copy of House Bill 950 is available in a 250k PDF file at the source link below.