Mayors Want Green Light For Red Light Cameras
Lafayette, West Lafayette, Hammond Mayors Seek Legislation
POSTED: 1:14 pm EST December 8, 2008
UPDATED: 2:22 pm EST December 8, 2008
LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Officials in several Indiana cities are hoping state lawmakers give the green light to traffic-watching cameras that catch motorists who run red lights.Attorney General Steve Carter said earlier this year that cities and towns cannot install red light cameras unless the Indiana General Assembly passes a law allowing them to do so.Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, told the Lafayette Journal & Courier that some senators are considering such a proposal for the legislative session that starts Jan. 7. But such efforts have failed in years past.
Alting said the cameras could improve public safety while helping cities collect extra cash "because of the lack of funds to hire additional police officers."Rep. Sheila Klinker, D-Lafayette, thinks a pilot project is more likely. Several municipalities could test the use of red light cameras, and if the project works, "the House will probably go whole hog on it," she said.Lafayette police issued 368 tickets for red light violations over 16 months from January 2007 to June 2008. But during a one-day test of a red light camera last spring, the camera caught 135 vehicles in some type of red light violation."That was surprising," said Sgt. Max Smith, of the police department's traffic division. "I didn't expect that many blatant violations."Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski wants the General Assembly to approve red light cameras."One of the biggest complaints I get is of people driving too fast and running signs and red lights," he said.West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis said the cameras could prevent dangerous car crashes."Oftentimes, even if there's the assumption of a camera there, people are going to be much more cautious when they pass through," Dennis said. "They're going to be much more inclined to obey the signal. That's the No. 1 goal."Other cities have also been interested in red light cameras.In June, the Hammond City Council approved an ordinance allowing the city to install cameras on traffic signals at six intersections, but that ordinance immediately came into question and led to Carter's ruling on the issue.Opponents of red light cameras say they go too far as a government intrusion into people's privacy. Others worry that tickets would be sent to vehicle owners, no matter who was driving at the time. And some have questioned whether cities and towns would shorten the length of yellow lights in an effort to bring in more money from tickets.