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South Dakota, Tennessee Consider Traffic Camera Bans

January 30, 2010

South Dakota, Tennessee Consider Traffic Camera Bans
Legislation introduced in South Dakota and Tennessee would impose a total ban on automated ticketing machines. 

Jason MumpowerA number of states are considering legislation that would outlaw the use of photo enforcement. Last year alone, Maine, Mississippi and Montana added themselves to the list of fifteen states where red light cameras and speed cameras are no longer welcome. On Thursday, the South Dakota House Transportation Committee will consider legislation introduced by state Representative Peggy Gibson (D-Huron) to make her state the sixteenth.

“No state, county, municipal, or township authority may use photo radar speed detection to determine compliance with any speed restriction imposed by this chapter or by any local ordinance,” House Bill 1140 states. “No state, county, municipal, or township authority may use a photo monitoring device to detect any red light violation.”

Gibson has already enlisted the support of twenty-three co-sponsors in the House and seven in the Senate (Read the legislation, 20k PDF file). In Tennessee, lobbyists for municipalities and photo enforcement companies have proved to have tight hold on legislators, as past legislation expanded the use of photo ticketing enacted in the guise of a ban.

Nonetheless, House Majority Leader Jason Mumpower (R-Bristol) introduced a true ban on photo enforcement devices with only one compromise. Cities with existing programs would be allowed to continue issuing tickets until the expiration of their contract with the private vendors that operate the systems (Read the legislation, 40k PDF file).

“After the effective date of this act no surveillance cameras to enforce or monitor traffic violations shall be installed,” House Bill 2735 states. “Surveillance cameras employed upon the effective date of this act may continue to be used pending the expiration of any contract governing their operation or until the costs of such surveillance cameras have been recovered. Upon the expiration of the contract governing its operation or upon the recovery of costs for a surveillance camera, the use of such surveillance camera shall be discontinued.”

If Mumpower cannot convince his colleagues to join him with a total ban, he introduced a menu of lesser restrictions. House Bill 2737 would forbid cities from hiring companies like Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia and American Traffic Solutions of Scottsdale unless those companies employ workers in Tennessee for the operation and monitoring of the cameras. Other Mumpower bills would dedicate photo ticket profit to education or transportation uses.

The least restrictive option, House Bill 2738, would require only that jurisdictions using cameras post information on their city websites three times a year on the number and type of tickets issued — including the number of right-turn citations. It would also report the amount of money generated and require an accounting of where the money was spent. Reporting costs would be paid from photo ticket fines. Competing legislation from the House Transportation Committee is also pending before the legislature.

In Missouri, state Senator Jim Lembke (R-St. Louis) prefiled legislation in December prohibiting all forms of automated ticketing machines.

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