One year after federal guidance authorized states to tap billions for roadway safety programs, state legislatures across the country are spending a lot of time on the topic of automated cameras to ticket drivers.
In January 2022, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced plans to address a record increase in traffic deaths on the nation’s highways. Automated cameras were included among the tools identified to aid in reducing fatalities.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s national roadway safety strategy addresses the administration’s goal for the program.
“Automated speed enforcement, if deployed equitably and applied appropriately to roads with the greatest risk of harm due to speeding, can provide significant safety benefits and save lives.”
Issue addressed in at least 19 statehouses
Time will tell whether the federal guidance affects efforts at statehouses that are in favor of or in opposition to the use of automated enforcement cameras.
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.
Experts 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 the topic.
An Arizona Senate bill would prohibit the use of automated camera photo enforcement on state roadways.
The insurance institute reports that photo enforcement is available to 13 communities around the state.
SB1234 would outlaw the use of red-light and speed cameras to enforce traffic rules.
Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff, has highlighted her concern about city governments using the devices as money makers in her pursuit of statute to forbid photo enforcement. The rule would apply to a local authority and state agency.
The bill has 12 co-sponsors.
In Connecticut, three bills would greenlight access to automated camera enforcement.
State law authorizes the use of speed cameras in work zones. Statute does not cover red-light cameras.
The first House bill, HB5917, is a comprehensive effort to address road safety. It includes a provision to allow municipalities around the state to use red-light cameras and speed cameras.
The second House bill, HB5255, focuses solely on authorization for red-light cameras and speed cameras.
The third House bill focuses on automated camera enforcement in the city of Waterbury.
HB6162 would allow the city southwest of Hartford to run a pilot program for red-light cameras.
A pursuit at the Illinois statehouse is intended to rein in the use of automated camera enforcement programs.
There are 68 locales around the states 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.
SB313 would repeal authority for local governments to use red-light cameras. Speed camera enforcement authorization in Chicago would also be removed.
The city started issuing $35 tickets for speeding 6-10 mph over the limit since March 2021. Fines for speeding in excess of 10 mph over the limit are set at $100.
Indiana House lawmakers voted 70-28 this week to advance a bill that would authorize the Indiana State Police to set up automated cameras in highway work zones to enforce speed limits. It now moves to the Senate.
State law now authorizes fines of $300 to $1,000 for speeding in work zones. Statute does not allow nor prohibit the use of speed cameras.
The legislation, HB1015, would punish drivers for exceeding the posted speed in work zones by at least 11 mph. Devices would be in use when workers are present.
Offending vehicle owners would receive a warning for a first offense. Repeat offenders would face $75 fines. Subsequent offenses would result in $150 fines.
A fiscal impact statement attached to the bill shows an average of 1,675 guilty verdicts in Indiana were entered for speeding in a work zone annually over the past seven years.
An Iowa bill would prohibit the use of automated ticket cameras along certain roadways.
State law does not prohibit nor allow the use of speed and red-light cameras.
HF173 would forbid municipalities from posting traffic enforcement cameras along primary and secondary roads including interstates. The rule would not apply to the state.
Municipalities could use automated cameras to enforce traffic rules on municipal streets.
Fine amounts would be limited to 5% of the applicable scheduled fine or civil penalty for the violation under state law.
Two Kentucky bills cover ticket cameras.
Currently, automated ticket cameras are prohibited in the Bluegrass State.
A House bill would permit the use of red-light cameras and speed cameras in the state.
HB73 would fine violators $50.
A Senate bill focuses on authorization of red-light cameras.
SB21 would fine first offenders $50. Subsequent violations would result in $75 fines.
In Maryland, a House bill covers the use of traffic control device 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.
HB353 would expand statute to permit local authorities to use red light cameras. Fines would be up to $40.
A sign requirement is included in the bill.
Advocates say that automated enforcement would relieve the requirement for police officers to be present to hand out tickets to violators.
Another House bill addresses revenue use from citations collected from Interstate 83 automated speed cameras in Baltimore City.
HB512 would require that 10% of fine revenue be used for roadway improvements to entrance and exit ramps along the stretch of I-83 and at the nearest intersection with a traffic signal to each ramp.
Automated red-light cameras now are outlawed in the state of Montana. The ban has been in place since 2009.
A House bill would remove the prohibition. Specifically, HB414 would authorize the ticketing mechanism on state highways.
The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to discuss the bill during a Feb. 14 hearing.
A bill halfway through the New Jersey statehouse is intended to limit the effect of red-light and speed cameras.
The Garden State does not employ the use of automated ticket cameras. Other states in the Northeast, however, do use automated enforcement methods.
The New Jersey Senate voted unanimously during the past year to advance a bill to prohibit the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission from providing identifying information for New Jersey licensed drivers to automated camera enforcement entities in other states.
Titled the “Camera Enforcement Inoculation Act,” the legislation is modeled after a South Dakota law that prohibits the state from sharing information with other states for the collection of civil fines that result from camera tickets.
The bill, S460, has moved to the Assembly.
One New Mexico bill would treat infractions the same as traffic tickets issued by law enforcement officers.
State law prohibits speed cameras. There is no rule on the use of red-light cameras.
HB22 would put into statute the authority for law enforcement to utilize red-light cameras.
Violations would be reported to insurance companies.
A handful of bills at the New York statehouse are intended to further deter red-light and speeding violations.
The state authorizes the use of red-light and speed cameras around the state.
AB698 /SB1652 would implement escalating penalties for vehicles with multiple photo-monitoring-device violations.
Specifically, after six violations over a two-year period the registration for the offending vehicle would be suspended for 90 days.
Escalating fine amounts would also be imposed. Fines for first-time and repeat offenders over two years would be $50 each. Fine amounts would increase up to $350 for a sixth violation over two years.
“This bill, through its escalating fine structure, insurance reporting, and ultimate vehicle registration suspension is meant to deter drivers from speeding and behaving recklessly while operating a motor vehicle,” states the bill memo justifying the legislation.
Another bill, AB671, also call for suspension of vehicle registration for multiple photo-violation-monitoring violations.
The length of suspension would be dependent on the number of violations in either a 12-, 24-, or 36-month period.
Six violations over a 12-month period would result in a 15-day suspension. Registration suspension would top out at 90 days for vehicles with 12 violations over 36 months.
Similarly, SB451 would authorize a year suspension for vehicles with five violations within 12 months.
New York City is the focus of another bill that addresses automated red-light camera use.
Since 1994, a program enables the use of red-light cameras at 150 intersections across the city.
SB2812 would renew and expand the city’s red-light camera program to allow 1,325 intersections to be posted with the devices.
Intersections posted with red-light cameras have seen a 58% decline in the number of severe injuries from collisions compared to the three years prior to installation, the bill memo reads.
“This common-sense reform would allow the cameras to be placed at 10% of city intersections.”
Notification of photo monitoring devices is the topic of another bill.
SB2113 would require that street notifications be posted whenever a photo-violation monitoring device is in use.
“If speed cameras were truly about improving safety and not as a way to raise revenue, then notifying drivers where speed cameras are located would only serve to slow down drivers in those areas,” the bill memo reads.
An Oklahoma Senate bill would prohibit the use of automated 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, SB84 would forbid all law enforcement agencies in the state from contracting with a private entity to setup photo monitoring devices to detect traffic violations.
“Research indicates that in some cases accidents increased after red-light cameras were installed,” Dahm said in a news release. “In some instances, municipalities shortened the yellow light to increase the chance of catching someone on a red-light violation, thus increasing revenue. Such blatant disregard for public safety just to generate more revenue is unacceptable and should not be allowed in our state.”
There are 10 cities in Oregon, including Portland, where photo radar is allowed on segments of roads. Police are required to operate radar out of a marked police vehicle. Tickets are issued for violators exceeding the posted speed by more than 10 mph.
Speed radar in affected locales is limited to use for up to four hours per day.
A House bill would authorize all cities to use photo radar. Additionally, HB2095 would eliminate the restriction on number of hours per day that photo radar may be used in any one location.
Red-light camera use in Texas is nearing extinction. Multiple pursuits at the statehouse would quicken the process.
A 2019 state law prohibits cities from using photo systems to fine drivers for running red lights.
The rule change took effect immediately. However, a provision was included in the law allowing cities to continue ticket system contracts until they expire.
Nearly all of the 57 communities throughout Texas that employed red-light cameras took advantage of “early-out clauses” in their contracts to end programs when the new rule was enacted. The clause allowed locales to nullify agreements when the state banned the ticketing machines.
Four locales around the state continued with their red-light camera programs due to contract clauses that do not permit early outs.
The cities of Balcones Heights and Leon Valley in the San Antonio area acted to extend contracts in time to beat the legislative deadline. The extended programs run through 2034 and 2039, respectively.
Elsewhere, the city of Humble must continue with their ticketing program through June 2024.
The contract for the city of Amarillo’s program expired in August.
House and Senate bills would nix the continuing red-light camera contracts.
HB177 and SB446 would void contracts that remain in effect.
The change would take effect immediately if it receives a two-thirds vote by the Legislature. Passage that does not meet the vote necessary for immediate effect would delay the effective date until Sept. 1.
One Utah Senate bill would allow speed and red-light cameras without law enforcement present to witness violations in certain circumstances.
Currently, the state prohibits speed camera use. There is no rule in place for red-light cameras.
SB105 would give authorization for speed cameras in areas that include work zones. Red-light cameras would be authorized in areas that include roadways with a posted speed limit of at least 40 mph.
Signs would be required to notify drivers of photo radar.
There would be no limitation on the use of speed and red-light cameras if information gathered is used for highway safety research or to issue warning citations.
The Virginia Senate has approved a bill to authorize red-light cameras in the city of Hampton.
SB861 would permit red-light cameras at any intersection deemed to be “negatively impacted by traffic” due to the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel expansion project.
The project is widening the current four-lane segments along nearly 10 miles of the I-64 corridor in Norfolk and Hampton, with new twin tunnels across the harbor. It is scheduled for completion in November 2025.
A July 2026 sunset date is included in the bill, which is in the House Transportation Committee.
A Washington state bill would expand the use of the speed cameras.
Currently, speed cameras are allowed by state law and by city ordinance. Locations are limited to school, public park and hospital zones. Other locations of concern can also be outfitted with cameras.
SB5272 would authorize the ticketing mechanism in highway work zones.
The bill was requested by the Washington State Department of Transportation.
One West Virginia House bill would allow the use of speed cameras in certain work zones.
State law now prohibits speed cameras.
HB2957 would authorize camera enforcement on multi-lane, high speed highways. Affected roadways have a posted speed of 55 mph or greater for ordinary conditions.
The system would operate only where workers are present.
Drivers must be notified of the presence of cameras. Additionally, a public education awareness campaign would provide notice. Information would also be available on the West Virginia 511 traffic information website.
Activity at the Wisconsin statehouse would greenlight the city of Milwaukee to use automated enforcement to ticket drivers.
State law prohibits the use of automated camera enforcement tools.
Rep. LaKeshia Myers, D-Milwaukee, is behind an effort to add the city to the more than 500 communities around the country to employ the use of red-light or speed cameras to nab drivers who disobey traffic rules. Specifically, the city of Milwaukee would be authorized to use up to 75 red-light and speed cameras.
Myers says the change is needed to address concern about reckless driving in the city. She adds that law enforcement needs help from the state to address the issue.
“It is incumbent on policymakers to use every available tool to help alleviate this problem, and red-light cameras are one such mechanism that can aid in that process,” Myers previously stated.
Speeding tickets would only be issued for exceeding the posted speed limit by at least 20 mph. The program would have a five-year sunset date. LL