One of the more prolific transportation safety-related topics covered at statehouses on an annual basis is the use of ticket cameras.
Federal guidance from early 2022 authorizing states to tap billions for roadway safety programs has resulted in state lawmakers across the country adopting and pursuing legislation covering automated ticket cameras.
The technology has been touted by the U.S. Department of Transportation as one tool to aid in reducing traffic fatalities.
The agency states that “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.”
Ticket camera issue addressed in 11 statehouses
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.
An attempt at the Arizona Legislature to prohibit the use of ticket cameras – or photo enforcement – on state roadways has been thwarted.
IIHS reports that photo enforcement is available to 13 communities around the state.
Supporters of outlawing the devices in the state say cities are not following the laws regulating photo enforcement. Additionally, they say photo radar used to enforce traffic law is unconstitutional.
To combat the problem, the legislature approved SB1234 to outlaw use of red-light and speed cameras to enforce traffic rules.
Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff, highlighted her concern about city governments using the devices as money makers for her pursuit of statute to forbid photo enforcement. The rule would apply to local authorities and state agencies.
Gov. Katie Hobbs has since vetoed the bill.
The governor said in her veto letter that “research indicates that photo radar cameras demonstrate effectiveness in changing driver behavior and decreasing fatal accidents.
“This bill’s ban of photo radar would eliminate an important tool for law enforcement that allows for a more efficient allocation of limited police resources.”
A new Arkansas law authorizes the use of traffic cameras to enforce speed limits in certain areas.
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has signed into law a bill permitting the use of speed cameras in work zones. Workers must be present in the area for cameras to be used for enforcement.
Law enforcement is required to be stationed at the end of highway or interstate work zones. An officer would have authority to issue a warning or a citation.
A sign requirement alerting travelers to the presence of speed ticket cameras is included.
Previously SB481, the new law takes effect in August.
The California Assembly has voted to advance a bill that would expand the state’s authority to use automated ticket cameras.
The Golden State already authorizes the use of red-light cameras. The ticketing tool is used in more than 30 areas around the state. Speed cameras, however, are prohibited.
Assembly lawmakers voted 58-7 to approve a bill authorizing a five-year pilot program to use speed enforcement cameras in areas identified to have high crash rates.
AB645 would apply to the cities of Glendale, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose.
Warnings would be issued to violators for the first 60 days. After that, fines for exceeding the posted speed by at least 11 mph would range from $50 to $500.
Ticket revenue would be used to administer the program and pay for “traffic calming measures.”
Supporters say use of the enforcement tool makes travel safer. They add that it reduces police interactions with drivers while maintaining driver accountability.
Opponents include the Western States Trucking Association. The group told lawmakers AB645 is “excessively overbroad” for a pilot program.
“It authorizes an undefined number of speed cameras to enforce any speed law, either through a fixed or mobile radar or laser system or any other electronic device, within six California cities.
The bill next heads to the Senate.
One bill sent to the Colorado governor’s desk would allow for more speed ticket cameras.
State law restricts the use of speed cameras to areas that include construction zones. An officer is required to be present when a speed camera is in use.
Notice of a violation must be issued and sent to the vehicle owner within 90 days of the violation.
The legislature has approved a bill that would allow municipalities to designate corridors where speed cameras may be installed. Sign requirements are included.
SB200 would also do away with the requirement that an officer be on site.
First-time offenders would receive a warning as long as they are driving less than 10 mph above the posted speed limit. Fines would be capped at $40.
Notification of violation would be required to be sent to a Colorado-registered vehicle owner within 30 days. Notification to out-of-state vehicle owners must be sent within 60 days of the violation.
In Connecticut, a House-approved bill would greenlight more access to automated ticket camera enforcement. Time is running out, however, for the bill to advance to the governor.
State law authorizes the use of speed cameras in work zones. Statute does not cover red-light cameras.
HB5917 contains a provision to permit municipalities to utilize red-light cameras and speed cameras in areas that include “pedestrian safety zones” and at sites within a municipality “that had a history of traffic crashes caused by excessive speed or by violations of a traffic sign or traffic signal.”
Municipalities would be required to adopt an ordinance authorizing cameras.
First-time violators would be fined up to $50. Violations would be limited to exceeding the posted speed by at least 10 mph or running a red light.
The bill awaits initial consideration by the Senate with the regular session scheduled to adjourn for the year on Wednesday, June 7.
The Illinois Legislature has approved a bill that is intended to rein in corruption tied to automated enforcement.
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.
HB3903 would establish “ethical guidelines” to address ongoing concerns about the cameras’ use.
Specifically, the bill would prohibit campaign contributions from contractors who provide the automated traffic enforcement equipment to any political action committee created by a contractor and any affiliates.
“We have seen numerous bad actors throughout local and state government,” Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, stated in a news release. “This legislation will put roadblocks in place to ensure that bad actors are punished for their crimes.”
Additionally, a county or municipality would be forbidden to change the yellow light interval at an intersection up to six months before automated cameras are posted at the affected intersection.
One more provision would authorize the Illinois DOT to revoke any permit for red-light cameras if any official or employee who serves that county or municipality is charged with bribery, official misconduct, or a similar crime related to the use of ticket cameras.
HB3903 next heads to the governor’s desk.
A new Indiana law authorizes the Indiana State Police to set up ticket cameras in highway work zones to enforce speed limits.
State law authorizes fines between $300 and $1,000 for speeding in work zones. Statute has not allowed nor prohibited the use of speed cameras.
Previously HB1015, the new law allows drivers to be punished 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.
The new rule takes effect July 1.
Legislation ongoing in Michigan would authorize automated speed enforcement in work zones.
Currently, no communities in the state employ the use of red-light cameras and speed cameras.
Two bills awaiting consideration on the House floor would permit speed cameras to enforce vehicle speeds in work zones on a highway or street.
Devices would be authorized for use when construction workers are present. Owners of vehicles found traveling at least 10 mph above the posted speed limit would receive violation notices in the mail.
First-time offenders would receive a written warning in the mail. Repeat offenders with violations within three years would face fines up to $150. Subsequent offenses would result in fines up to $300.
A sign must be placed prior to where the work zone begins to notify drivers about the automated enforcement.
Additionally, a work zone safety fund would be created with the state DOT coordinating with state police and local law enforcement to increase police presence within work zones, to fund devices, and to make other safety enhancements.
Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek has signed into law a bill to expand the use of photo radar in the state.
There are 10 cities in Oregon, including Portland, where photo radar is permitted on segments of roads. 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.
The new law authorizes all cities to use photo radar. Additionally, HB2095 eliminates the restriction on number of hours per day that photo radar may be used in any one location.
Cities also have the authority to change and determine speed on different segments of roads up to 10 mph below the statutory speed, providing the designated speed is not less than 20 mph.
The rule changes take effect Jan. 1.
The Pennsylvania House Transportation Committee met this week to discuss a bill that would renew and expand automated ticket camera enforcement programs in the state.
Currently, speed cameras are authorized in active work zones around the state. Travelers found driving at least 11 mph over the posted speed are subject to automated ticketing.
The program has a February 2024 sunset date.
The same rule applies along U.S. 1, or Roosevelt Boulevard, in Philadelphia. The program has a December 2023 sunset date.
House Transportation Committee Chairman Ed Neilson, D-Philadelphia, is behind the bill to eliminate the expiration dates.
HB1284 would also expand the use of speed cameras to any Philadelphia roads. The lone requirement for adding speed cameras would be approval by city ordinance and PennDOT.
Neilson touts the success of the programs to reduce traffic incidents.
“The numbers show that these programs work to stop reckless driving and save lives,” Neilson stated. “We must eliminate these expiration dates to preserve the safety of Pennsylvanians while on our roads and highways.”
A related Senate bill, SB748, is in the Senate Transportation Committee. It does not include expansion of the enforcement program in Philadelphia.
In Washington, a new state law expands the use of the speed ticket cameras.
Currently, speed cameras are permitted 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 ticket cameras.
Previously SB5272, the new law authorizes the ticketing mechanism in highway work zones. Citations could only be issued when workers are present.
Additionally, signs must be posted to alert travelers to the presence of cameras. Notices of violation must be sent within 30 days.
Data from the Washington State DOT show there were 283 minor injury crashes, 28 serious injury crashes, and five fatal crashes in work zones in 2021.
“Speeding and distracted driving are the main causes of these tragic events,” stated Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima. “Placing speed cameras in our work zones can be an effective way to deter drivers from causing a serious accident.”
The Washington State DOT requested the new rule that takes effect in July 2024. LL