Red-light camera ban fails, transformed into "study"

Categories: News, Politics

More photos, video below.
Last week, we noted that a bill to ban red-light cameras (after years of failed attempts) had managed to win approval in the state senate. But it was flagged yesterday by a House committee after heavy lobbying from a number of local mayors, including Denver's Michael Hancock, and the Colorado Municipal League, which attacked it on a number of fronts, including a usurpation of local control.

Even after all that, the bill's not dead -- but it's a shadow of its former self.

As we've reported, 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.

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 Senator Scott 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."

Senator Scott Renfroe.
Nonetheless, Renfroe's measure failed in 2012 -- and while this year's model got further than its predecessor, 9News notes that the House's Veterans and Military Affairs committee gutted the legislation, much to the delight of the Colorado Municipal League.

The CML's fact sheet about SB 14-181, included below, maintains that officials in individual municipalities are better qualified to determine if red-light cameras are right for their particular locality -- and besides, "motorists observing traffic laws never receive a citation." The organization also argues that the devices enhance safety, offering the following figures to support its view:

• At its only red light camera intersection, Commerce City has recorded at 41 percent decrease in accidents in the last 12 month reporting period.

• Boulder has eight red light camera intersections. During the life of the red light program
the number of violations per day has decreased from 174 to 49, a 72 percent decrease.
The number of intersection accidents has decreased 68 percent.

• The monthly number of red light violations per day in Littleton is down 75 percent during
the life of the program with only five percent of citations issued to repeat offenders.

In addition, the CML sent lawmakers a letter signed by Denver mayor Michael Hancock and eight colleagues against the red-light-camera ban. The letter, also shared here, reads in part, "At a time when we have deepening concerns over hit and run drivers, impaired drivers, and traffic calming in neighborhoods, it makes no sense to eliminate a law enforcement tool that has increased traffic law compliance and reduced accidents. Reducing the ability to enforce red light and speeding laws sends the wrong message to the public."

So what's left of SB 14-181? Not much. Rather than banning the cameras, House reps are asking the Colorado Department of Transportation to study their effectiveness and report back to the general assembly by January 1. But even that outcome isn't guaranteed: The senate, which signed off on the previous version, would have to bless the latest one for it to reach Governor John Hickenlooper's desk.

Here's the aforementioned 9News report, followed by the Colorado Municipal League fact sheet about SB 14-181, the mayors letter and the original bill.

Colorado Municipal League Release on Senate Bill 14-181 by Michael_Lee_Roberts

SB 14-181: Mayors Letter

Senate Bill 14-181

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Politics archive circa April 24: "Red-light cameras could be banned under new bill after years of failed attempts."

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Anyone else notice this.......

The letter is supposedly signed by these Mayors, Littleton's Mayor is shown as "Phil Cemanec", yet his name is Phil Cernanec (as per the City of Littleton's home page).

Either Littleton's Mayor is such a dumbass that he can't spell his own name correctly, or someone wrote this for these Mayors, and that person is such a dumbass as to misspell one of the Mayors names.

And these are the fucktards we're relying on for "reliable information" and legislation?  Real credible, folks.

It's like the stupid leading the blind.  


Dear House Reps.,

Thank you for your opposition to SB14-181, concerning red light and speeding cameras, and for voting to gut this bill.  

I will now make it a point to run every red light, and speed everywhere I drive.  For if I receive a ticket by a cop it would go against my drivers license, I would have to pay it, and my insurance rates would increase.  However, if I receive a ticket from a camera, it does not go against my drivers license, I will not have to pay for it (since it must be hand delivered to me before they can award a default judgement), and my insurance rates would not increase.  Thus you have just given me a free pass to do as I choose on the roads, without consequence.  For that, I sincerely thank you.

The Colorado House of Reps. has just given me a green light to run every camera enforced red light.

Thanks again.

Michael Price
Michael Price

Put more of them up! Most of them are paid for by the businesses in the areas they're installed

Michael Price
Michael Price

Study? Just pull the results. I wanna know how many assholes are out there running lights after they've turned red because they are entitled and don't give a shit about the safety of other drivers and pedestrians.

Randy Montano
Randy Montano

Good I'd rather receive a ticket in the mail rather than getting it from a cop...if you get the ticket from the cop it counts against your driving record and raises you insurance rates but the camera ticket does what would you rather get?

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

They want to "study" how many citizens are STUPID enough to continue to pay this voluntary extortion.

These photo "tickets" do not show up on your driver's license.

Unless they are personally served by a cop, they have NO force of law. 

They are not a summons to court or any other valid court order.

Since this is nothing more than a Stupid Tax, the "fines" should be doubled to exploit the submissive ignorance of those naive enough to pay them.


Good point, actually.  Plus you don't have to pay unless you're served a ticket "in person", thus you can keep ignoring the camera tickets.

I am going to start speeding and running every red light I can from this point forward.

Thanks pigs!  There is an upside to this bill being gutted.

DonkeyHotay topcommenter


"People who opine as you do have no place in a free society"  -- Robert Chase





Let the stupid pay this voluntary "tax".  I will run every camera red light I can from now on.  And there ain't thing one these fucks can do about it.

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