Hawaii lawmakers advance red light camera bill

HONOLULU (AP) — Two Hawaii Senate committees have approved legislation that would authorize the use of cameras to catch motorists who run red lights.

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HONOLULU (AP) — Two Hawaii Senate committees have approved legislation that would authorize the use of cameras to catch motorists who run red lights.

The bill would allow Honolulu and three neighbor island counties to install cameras that take pictures of vehicles as they run red lights. The counties would issue citations to the owners of the vehicles, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

Sen. Clarence Nishihara said the proposal is about public safety, but he also acknowledged that it will likely be met with resistance.

“People don’t understand it, or just don’t like their picture taken, I don’t know, but in this case the red-light one is clearly a public safety issue,” he said.

In 1998, Hawaii passed a law authorizing a similar photo enforcement system to ticket speeding motorists. But lawmakers faced public outcry when a private contractor deployed the system, known as “van cams,” on Oahu in 2002. The law was eventually repealed.

One Hawaii supporter of photo enforcement at traffic signals is Randy Moore, retired assistant superintendent for the state Department of Education who said he sees vehicles run red lights almost daily.

“The objective is not to catch people,” Moore said. “The objective is to stop the behavior.”

But Milton Imada criticized the proposed traffic enforcement system as being biased against drivers of longer commercial vehicles. He said, in written testimony, those drivers need more time to enter intersections on yellow lights and are more likely to receive citations under the law.

“This bill’s flawed intersection red light camera system is an overkill designed to prey on Oahu drivers to extort monies to feed government’s depleted General Fund and feed the most costly rail system in the nation,” Imada wrote.

The measure was approved on Tuesday by the Senate committees on Transportation and Energy, and on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs

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If the bill becomes law, Hawaii would be one of several states that use cameras for traffic enforcement.

Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia use red-light enforcement cameras, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

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