Roundabout way to put an end to red-light cameras
Red-light cameras in various Georgia communities have
attracted the attention of the Legislature, big time. As other
communities are considering the cameras, including Macon and Warner
Robins, lawmakers in the House on Tuesday approved a bill that would
make red- light cameras more trouble than they are worth.
The cameras, installed at certain high traffic
intersections, snap a picture of the license plate area of vehicles
that pass through after the light has turned red. Proponents say
red-light cameras are a safety device aimed at lowering accidents.
Opponents counter that they violate privacy and are a money-making
gambit. Both opinions are in part correct.
While the cameras do seem to cut down on side impact
crashes, intersections with cameras usually have higher incidents of
rear-end collisions. Though the fines from red-light camera locations
are limited to $70, some communities initially tacked on surcharges.
Attorney General Thurbert Baker put an end to that with an opinion he
issued in 2005. Before that opinion, Duluth issued $602,000 in
violations during the first three months after red-light cameras were
installed. That included $150,000 in surcharges, according to The
In a classic move to put an end to red-light cameras,
legislators opted not to outlaw them outright but to make them too
costly for communities to install and maintain.
House Bill 77 puts formidable obstacles in the way of
communities that want to install the cameras. However, the real kicker
takes the $70 fine and gives $52.50 to the state. If the measure passes
the Senate and gets the governor's signature, the red-light camera era
in Georgia would be essentially over.
There is a caveat that could nix the bill. The proceeds
from the fines issued via cameras would supposedly go to fund the
state-wide trauma network (there is nothing in the bill that directs
the money to the trauma network). That really doesn't matter, though.
None of the lawmakers should believe that even if a community were
stupid enough to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to install the
cameras and send 75 percent of the fines to the state that it would be
enough to fund the trauma network. If they believe this measure solves
the state's trauma network problem, they are really in for a shock.