Red-light cameras could be banned under new bill after years of failed attempts

red.light.camera.jpg
Image courtesy American Civil Liberties Union
For years, Senator Scott Renfroe has tried to ban red-light cameras -- devices mounted near traffic signals or in police vans that snap shots of vehicles allegedly breaking traffic laws -- under the theory that they're more about revenue than safety.

The effort failed in 2012, but it's got a lot better chance for success this year -- because a dislike of such cameras has become a bipartisan issue.

Critics have long argued that red-light cameras are set up in such a way as to capture technical violations so minor that an officer at the scene would never issue a ticket for them. Back in November 2011, for instance, we told you about a Complete Colorado report that found of 51 citations issued at 36th and Quebec during a single day, 48 of them -- approximately 94 percent -- involved cars turning right from the right-hand lane.

In most cases, the alleged sin was crossing the white stop line -- which is typically legal to do when turning right from the right-hand lane.

photo.radar.van.jpg
A camera in a photo-radar van, as seen in 9News coverage.
Around that same period of time, 9News and Fox 31 both ran stories about the red-light-camera program, with the Denver Police Department suggesting that the latter was blatantly unfair. Early the next year, however, 9News revealed that the DPD had understated the amount of revenue it derived from the cameras in data provided to the station.

The DPD initially said red-light cameras had generated $279,000 between January and August of 2011. The actual figure was closer to $1.2 million.

Stories like these inspired Renfroe, a Republican, to sponsor a bill banning red-light cameras.

Even though he described himself as "a local control guy," he told us in January 2012 that, in his view, "this is a statewide concern. I think we need to make it uniform across the state. And right now, I think it's pretty clear that what's going on in some cities -- not all of them, but some of them -- is that this is a revenue-generator. And it needs to be about safety."

scott.renfroe.jpg
Senator Scott Renfroe.
He added that "there are a lot of ways a city can engineer safety into intersections without red light cameras -- things cities can do to make intersections safer without using Big Brother tactics."

Nonetheless, the bill died in committee, leaving Renfroe frustrated. Afterward, he said, "It's kind of crazy when you look at the system and what we have in place: They send you a ticket in the mail and people pay it without questioning it when you don't really have to pay it. If it doesn't go on your record and doesn't go on your insurance -- if it doesn't do any of these things -- then why are we collecting money on it?

"I was disappointed to see it go down," he admitted. "Other states seem to be moving away from this, and hopefully Colorado will continue to look at it."

Renfroe certainly has: He's the co-sponsor of Senate Bill 14-181, which represents another attempt to ban red-light cameras. We've included the entire measure below, but here's its summary:

The bill repeals the authorization for the state, a county, a city and county, or a municipality to use automated vehicle identification systems to identify violators of traffic regulations and issue citations based on photographic evidence, and creates a prohibition on such activity.
The legislation has already gotten further than the 2012 version, passing in the Senate by a 21-14 margin. And its move to the House is significantly enhanced by the co-sponsorship of Democratic Majority leader Mark Ferrandino.

This is the same recipe for success Renfroe cited back two years ago. "I don't think this should be a partisan issue," he said at the time. "I think this should be a safety issue. And since the bill was announced, I've had an overwhelming number of e-mails coming in, even from Democrats who'll explain, 'I support you on this.' So I definitely think this is an issue where we should be able to come together and put some common sense into what we're doing."

Here's the aforementioned bill.

Senate Bill 14-181

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our News archive circa February 2012: "Red-light-camera bill dies: Senator still doubts devices make intersections safer."


Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
19 comments
muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

Could they time the lights any worse?  These red light cameras aren't for safety, they are for revenue.  By timing the lights badly, and by shortening yellow lights, you get EXACTLY WHAT WE HAVE NOW.  The worse the lights are timed, the more revenue.  


Kadry Dee
Kadry Dee

This is going to lead to a significant reduction in rear end collision accidents. Until I moved to Denver I had never seen so many drivers who slam on brakes when the light is still green, but people are afraid of the cameras and it makes them less safe drivers. Great news, and I hope this passes.

John McLaughlin
John McLaughlin

Yeah, flashing a bright light in people's eyes as they are driving is a great way to improve safety on the road. (Sarcasm). Ban that shit!

John Elliott
John Elliott

The only people who don't like the red light cameras are the ones who drive like inconsiderate self-centered assbags and don't follow basic traffic laws. Bunch of whiny c*nts because they get caught running lights or blowing through them at high speed. I guess the next motherfker that blows a light and hits someone or kills them gets followed, beaten or shot...

Matt Leising
Matt Leising

Finally! These things are a hazard! I've almost been in 2 wrecks because someone went over the line and I was blinded and almost rear ended them

Jt Colfax
Jt Colfax

The one at 36 th. And Quebec is taking pics left and right regardless of what's going on

Stephen Paul
Stephen Paul

If it doesn't change behavior, at least it punishes it.

Allan Cass
Allan Cass

Hope it goes away. Not to rush out and start running red lights but those iffy calls being made just to drum up revenue.

A Chris Heismann
A Chris Heismann

Running red lights is a personal pet peeve of mine, but the camera's haven't made any impact that I can see in preventing the behavior.

Greg Helberg
Greg Helberg

Google a video of traffic in China, they don't have lights,, nightmare. Like a bunch of bugs bumping into each other trying to get somewhere.

Michael Price
Michael Price

I see 2-3, sometimes 4 cars run the light when it's damn near purple on a daily basis. When people quit driving as if the lights don't exist, maybe then the cameras shouldn't exist. These people not only disrupt the flow of traffic but they put others lives and safety in danger. Especially those in the crosswalks. Until they quit blowing off these lights like they don't exist, make em pay! To run one with a camera at it anyway makes you pretty stupid.

Cynthia Barnes ૐ
Cynthia Barnes ૐ

Good luck for people who ignore red lights! I guess the rest of us have to hope to be lucky enough not to be in their path.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Only submissive FOOLS and TOOLS pay those "tickets".


They have NO force of law, do not count against your driver's license, and are merely voluntary taxes for morons dumb enough to pay them.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Strong post, John. We're going to feature it as an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

We've definitely heard other stories like yours, Matt. Thanks for weighing in.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

It does seem to have a hair trigger, doesn't it? Thanks for the post, JT.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Thanks for sharing your views, Stephen. Much appreciated.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Interesting post, Michael. Thanks.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

Mikey ----- Purple is the combination of the two primary colors red and blue.  Now I am color blind, but I was under the impression the middle color was yellow.


So, for your strained metaphor to make sense, it should have read 'damn near orange' and not 'damn near purple'.        


It still doesn't make much sense, but at least it is technically correct.  

Now Trending

Denver Concert Tickets

Around The Web

From the Vault

 

Loading...