Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Bill Banning Red-Light Cameras Signed into Law

Among the bills signed into law by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on Friday is House Bill 1568, which bans the use of cameras to catch motorists running red lights.

Jackson is among several cities in Mississippi that uses or was considering using cameras as ways to reduce accidents and raise revenues through automated ticketing. Columbus has already resolved to remove its cameras in anticipation of Barbour’s signing the bill. Other cities that were reportedly considering installation of the cameras include McComb, Natchez, Southaven and Tupelo.

The Capitol City has cameras at eight intersections around the city and a three-year contract with the company that manufacturers them, reported WAPT last week. City officials have until Oct. 1 to take down the cameras.

Mississippi joins at least eight other states in banning the automated technology, including neighboring Arkansas. Six other states are debating using cameras, which studies suggest work well to reduce the numbers of drivers who run red lights.

A story published in USA Today in 2007 cited two such studies: one in Philadelphia, Penn., and the other in Virginia Beach:

The Philadelphia study, conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an industry group, examined red light violations using a two-step approach. First, researchers found that violations dropped by 36% after yellow lights were extended to give drivers more warning that the light was about to turn red. After red light cameras were added, remaining violations dropped by 96%.

"There's a dramatic change in driver behavior when red light cameras are used," says Richard Retting, senior transportation safety engineer for IIHS. "The jury is in on that question."

The Virginia Beach study, conducted by Old Dominion University, examined signal violations at four intersections before red light cameras were installed, while they were operating and after they were removed in 2005. Violations more than tripled by August 2006.

"That's a huge jump," says lead researcher Bryan Porter, an associate professor of psychology at Old Dominion. "The rate of red light running was actually higher" than before the cameras were installed.


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