Legislator to revive red-light camera bill
By Gene Park

A bill to allow the use of cameras at intersections to catch drivers who run red lights will be back in the Legislature in January.

Rep. Joseph Souki, chairman of the House Transportation committee, says he will re-introduce the red-light enforcement camera bill as a means to cut down on traffic deaths.

"We have to put it up in areas where there are lots of fatalities," Souki said. "We need more enforcement, but you don't have enough people to be at every place, every time."

Souki (D, Waihee-Wailuku) has introduced the measure every year since 2002, when the state's infamous "van cam" program was unveiled and scrapped four months later because of public outcry.

Motorists complained that the private company contracted for that project had incentives for issuing speeding tickets because it was paid for each citation, and also because vehicle owners were held responsible even if they weren't the ones driving.

The red-light cameras would shoot faces and the vehicle, and would focus only on red-light runners, Souki said. He said civil rights issues were raised against the proposal, and he hopes to make his case stronger in 2007 by meeting with local communities to get their insight.

Souki's bill died last session in the Senate. But at least one key senator is throwing his support behind it in the next session.

Sen. Will Espero, chairman of the Senate Public Safety Committee, said he will lobby his fellow senators for its passage.

"If nothing else, we'll let the counties decide whether they want red-light cameras or not," said Espero (D, Waipahu-Ewa-Ewa Beach-West Loch).

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