Washington Red-Light Camera Bill Passes Senate

March 19, 2001

A Washington bill, SB 5610, authorizing the use of traffic safety cameras to detect red-light running, passed the Senate on a 27-to-22 vote. The legislation would allow the use of traffic safety cameras in certain zones to detect stoplight or railroad crossing violations. This year, Washington is one of 16 U.S. states that are considering bills permitting some form of red-light camera use or modify existing laws.

The bill requires that these cameras take pictures of the vehicle and the license plate only, not the driver or passengers in the vehicle. Violators are then sent a notice of traffic infraction based on the camera’s evidence.

The bill has received strong supported from insurance groups, including the National Association of Independent Insurers, as well as a coalition of law enforcement and highway safety advocates. To date, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii and Maryland have passed bills allowing the use of red-light cameras statewide, and an additional six states allow individual communities to use red-light cameras.

According to Michael Harrold, Northwest regional manager for the NAII, studies have indicated that red-light running accounts for nearly one-quarter of all car crashes. He also said that the red-light cameras have proven to be a real deterrent to the practice in states where their use is permitted.

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