Pass a reasonable red-light camera bill

05/06/2014 11:29 PM

05/06/2014 11:29 PM

Kansas City’s red-light camera program could be back in business by the summer if Missouri lawmakers approve a common sense bill to crack down on drivers who break the law.

City officials shut down the cameras months ago after courts ruled many municipalities were not following state law, which requires charging points to drivers for red-light violations.

The bill passed by the House and awaiting Senate action takes care of the legal shortcomings. Primarily, no points could be assessed against drivers for these infractions. The measure also protects motorists against overzealous use of the cameras.

Fortunately, Kansas City’s program already meets the measure’s major requirements. The city appropriately has placed its cameras at intersections for safety reasons, in efforts to reduce accidents. And signs that warn drivers of the red-light equipment are posted at intersections.

Automated enforcement of traffic violations is controversial. Many people complain that it just helps cities rake in revenue, and that the cameras don’t lead to safer driving.

The Star has supported the cameras because they help the Police Department, as Chief Darryl Forté has said before, use technology to save lives and free up officers to focus on violent crime.

The cameras also help change drivers’ behavior for the better. In the several years the cameras were in place in Kansas City, 89 percent of first-time offenders have not received another red-light ticket.

In addition, the number of severe T-bone accidents — in which one vehicle plows broadside into another — were reduced at monitored intersections.

Finally, the total number of violations also has been on a downswing.

It’s notable that city officials have discussed a way to follow current state law, as upheld by the courts. In a March memo, City Manager Troy Schulte told elected officials the city could install new cameras to take face shots of drivers, which would be necessary to assess points against them.

Properly so, Kansas City officials want to see if the Missouri bill will help them turn their cameras back on. State lawmakers should approve the measure and make it safer to drive on city streets.

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