Daily Report for Executives provides in-depth coverage of unfolding legislative, regulatory, and judicial news from the nation’s capital, the states, and around the world. This daily news service...
By Steff Thomas
Oct. 23 — Motorists may no longer have to watch their backs for hidden traffic cameras if a House highway bill passes.
A provision buried in the surface transportation authorization bill (H.R. 3763) would bar states and localities from spending federal dollars on automated cameras that catch drivers speeding or running red lights. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted Oct. 22 to approve the bill.
Currently, 441 communities in the U.S. utilize red-light cameras and 140 use speed cameras, while 27 states do not use the enforcement tools at all, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Supporters say the cameras can be effective tools in deterring violators and promoting safety.
“They reduce traffic violations and car crashes and prevent serious injuries and even death,” said Russ Rader, senior vice president of communications for IIHS. Insurers generally support highway safety measures as a way to drive down the cost of claims.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported more than 2.3 million intersection-related crashes in 2008 resulting in 733,000 injuries and 7,700 fatalities. And a 2005 report from the National Forum on Speeding said speeding contributes to about one-third of all fatal traffic crashes in the U.S. and costs society an estimated $40 billion annually.
However, the automated enforcement cameras have drawn intense criticism around the country, with opponents saying they infringe on privacy and are intended mainly to raise revenue. The reliability of the cameras has also been challenged in some jurisdictions.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), who introduced a stand-alone bill (H.R. 950) in February to bar most automated enforcement cameras, said he was pleased to see the provision in the House highway bill.
“I've heard a lot about this issue from my constituents who believe this technology is mostly used to generate revenue rather than for safety,” Perlmutter told Bloomberg BNA.
Like the authorization bill, Perlmutter's measure—which was referred to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee but has not been taken up—would include an exception for cameras in school zones. Perlmutter's bill also would allow cameras in construction zones.
According to the Governor's Highway Safety Association (GHSA), 13 states have banned speed cameras and 10 have prohibited red light cameras.
The GHSA has advocated the use of automated enforcement “to enforce speeding, red light running and other traffic violations.” The organization declined to comment on the House bill, but in general has urged states to enact legislation allowing law-enforcement officials to use these technologies.
But the association also has said use of the automated enforcement cameras should be limited to “high crash sites” and “situations where traffic law enforcement cannot be deployed safely,” and should not be used to raise revenue for the law enforcement. The GHSA policy, published on its website, also states that cameras should not replace traffic officers or hold drivers liable for problems with road maintenance, construction zones or misplaced road signs.
To contact the reporter on this story: Steff Thomas in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Heather Rothman at email@example.com
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)