State senate approves red light cameras

By Deanna Martin / Associated Press
Posted: February 18, 2009

Drivers may want to think twice about blowing through red lights.

The Republican-controlled Indiana Senate passed a bill 28-22 Tuesday to allow cities and towns to install cameras at intersections to catch drivers running red lights. The fine would be no more than $100.

Supporters of red-light cameras, which would photograph rear license plates, say the devices can help save lives while allowing police officers to focus on more serious criminal behavior.
"It's a safety factor," said Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte.
Opponents of the cameras say they are a government invasion of privacy. They said the cameras may prevent some accidents but can actually cause more rear-end collisions as drivers slam on the brakes to avoid the photographed violation. Other critics say the cameras could become a "golden goose" for cash-strapped cities and towns.
"These cameras make a lot of money," said Sen. Tim Skinner, D-Terre Haute. "I can guarantee you there are going to be a lot of tickets."
The bill now moves to the Democrat-controlled House for consideration. Similar measures have passed the Senate before but have never cleared both chambers.
Several cities have been lobbying for the cameras.
The Hammond City Council approved an ordinance last year that would have allowed the city to install cameras on traffic signals at six intersections. But the attorney general's office said that cities and towns cannot install red light cameras unless the General Assembly passes a law allowing them to do so.
Other cities that have shown interest in red-light cameras include Fort Wayne, Lafayette, West Lafayette and Gary.
Lafayette police ran a one-day test of a red-light camera last year and found 135 vehicles in some type of violation. That number is significant considering police there issued 368 tickets for red-light violations over 16 months from January 2007 to June 2008.