Red Light Camera
Many opponents have long suspected red light camera programs were more about the revenue they generated and less about safety, and many areas that currently have the cameras are re-thinking their programs.
For the first time since red light cameras were first introduced in the '80s, statistics show a drop in the number of cities and counties using the systems. However, many smaller cities are still clinging to the systems and the cash they generate.
According to a report on red-light cameras from the Reason Foundation, the number of areas with red-light cameras in the United States has dropped from about 700 in 2011 to 500 at the end of 2013.
In California, Gardena was the first city to cancel the program in 2011. Hawthorne considered removing its cameras in 2012 but decided to keep them at least through next year.
In February, the South Dakota state House passed a bill that would ban both red light and speeding cameras by a lopsided 69-1 vote. A Missouri state panel heard testimony last month on a similar bill. Iowa's DOT has proposed a similar measure that would required cities to justify their need for the cameras, and in Ohio, a 2013 bill to ban them is still pending.
“Red light cameras are used primarily to raise money, and not to improve safety,” state Rep. Peggy Gibson, main sponsor of the South Dakota bill, told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. Michael Carter, a former red-light camera judge, told the Missouri legislature the cameras are a form of “indirect taxation.”
Twenty four states and Washington, D.C. allow cameras that catch drivers sneaking through red lights. Fourteen states and the District use cameras to catch speeders. Currently, Arkansas, New Jersey and Wisconsin prohibit speed cameras, while seven states — Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina and West Virginia — ban red-light cameras. Three states, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Minnesota, have no laws for camera use at all.