Souki renews effort to get red-light cameras
The lawmaker's plan would provide photos of offending vehicles
By B.J. Reyes

Undaunted by past failures, Rep. Joe Souki has once again brought back a proposal that would allow the placement of cameras at intersections to try and catch red-light runners.

"Hopefully, we'll get better luck this time," said Souki (D, Waihee-Wailuku).

Souki, the House Transportation Committee chairman, 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 overwhelming public outcry.

Last year, the Legislature passed a law clarifying when motorists were required to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks and established penalties for violators. Lawmakers this year have pushed measures to strengthen the law by increasing penalties.

Testimony has indicated that in 2005, 36 fatalities or 25.5 percent of the state's total traffic deaths, were pedestrians. Of those, 13 involved pedestrians who were within crosswalks when they were struck.

Gov. Linda Lingle introduced the bill pushing for increased penalties for those who violate the existing crosswalk law. Souki's committee yesterday amended that proposal, Senate Bill 2385, to include the red-light camera program.

Unlike the van cam speeding enforcement program, the red-light cameras would be stationary and operated by county police departments, not a private vendor, and the fees collected under the program would go to the counties, Souki said.

"We don't want to bring back the van cams," Souki said. "This would be done by (county police departments) -- totally within their discretion where the cameras will be and the fines will go back to them."

The measure would have to make it out of the House Judiciary Committee and then the full chamber before going back to the Senate for consideration.

A similar measure advanced in the House last year but died in the Senate.

Lingle has not taken a position on the red-light cameras in the past.

Senate Transportation Chairwoman Lorraine Inouye (D, Hilo-Honokaa), whose committee had advanced Lingle's Senate bill, said she would support Souki's bill and she is looking forward to hearing it if it comes over from the House.

"I'd like to see it happen and perhaps this is the right time," Inouye said.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin --