Red light cameras
Traffic citation cameras, now used in more than 600 American cities, are mounted at street intersections to photograph drivers who run red lights. These motorists are then mailed a citation once the photo has been reviewed. It is estimated that each of these cameras will generate more than 500 citations every year, creating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for city governments and camera manufacturers. Citations can cost drivers more than $300, of which camera manufacturers typically receive a large percentage. Proponents say it is an effective way to improve driving safety since many serious accidents result from speeding or occur at street intersections. Some claim these intersection accidents have decreased after red light cameras were installed, while others say that there are indications the opposite is true. Studies have shown these devices cause rear-end accidents at intersections in which they operate. A Los Angeles study showed a tripling of these types of accidents in 20 of the 32 intersections studied. Another study by a New Jersey town which recently banned these cameras claimed t-bone accidents increased 400% in camera-covered intersections. Red light camera systems are also being used to ticket cars that exceed the speed limit. One two-day operation in Virginia ticketed nearly 6,000 drivers, with 90% of these citations for speeding. Opponents believe local governments exploit these devices by enforcing arbitrary low speed limits, and citing drivers who run red lights at intersections with short yellow light intervals. They claim the real reasons for these cameras are to increase local revenue and reduce police personnel. Critics contend that in cases where a photo does not clearly identify a driver’s face, these cameras violate our constitutional protections because they shift the burden of proof from the government to the driver. They say police officers should not be replaced with a device that eliminates an officer’s presence, interpretation and discretion. Privacy advocates also warn these cameras are a threat to our civil liberties because they encroach on our right to privacy. In 2012 alone, states received nearly $800 million from the federal government to install these camera systems. While 24 states and Washington, D.C. allow them, nine states have banned them. Nationwide, the number of communities using red light cameras has decreased about 6% since 2012.

Pending Legislation: None

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Poll Opening Date
May 21, 2020
Poll Closing Date
May 27, 2020

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