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Putting the brakes to red light cameras

Buffalo is proceeding, albeit more slowly than anticipated, with plans to install red-light cameras at 50 intersections around the city. Meanwhile, the cameras are becoming a fading fad elsewhere around the country, according to a front page report in USA Today and a sidebar story.

Red-light cameras that have been gaining a foothold in many states face a growing public backlash and outright removal.

Motorists are increasingly viewing them as a money-grabbing move by government - Mayor Byron Brown thinks the cameras would provide the city $2.75 million a year, thanks to fines that would start at $50 a pop.

The pace of installations has slowed, however. Seven state legislatures have banned their use, voters have approved referendums to stop their deployment in three cities, and numerous lawsuits have been filed in Florida challenging their legality.

It's not just critics who are unhappy. One state lawmaker in Illinois who had championed the cameras is now contemplating legislation to curtail their use, saying they have not delivered as promised.

Reported USA Today:

"They were sold to us in a different manner than what they're being used for," says state Rep. Jack Franks, a Democrat. "The municipalities have put them in areas where they're just to make revenue."

He says that since 2006, crashes have increased at half the intersections in Illinois that have cameras, stayed the same at 25% and decreased at 25%.

Here in Buffalo, Brown has obtained the necessary approvals from the state and Common Council. But his administration is six months behind its original schedule to solicit requests for proposals for a system and operator, and the Council still needs to approve enabling legislation.

Might the cooling of interest elsewhere prompt second thoughts?


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