Lawmakers to consider cameras to catch red-light runners

Local News

You’d better think twice before you decide to run that red light, at least if a bill proposed for the next session of the Nevada Legislature becomes law.

The bill would be the latest attempt to allow police in Nevada to use cameras to catch red-light runners and even speeders.

The debate over red-light cameras is nothing new in Nevada.

Since the legislature banned red-light cameras back in 1999, there have been attempts in four separate legislative sessions to allow police to use the cameras, which snap pictures of motorists if they run red lights or break the speed limit. 

But now the idea has come back. This time, the Office of Traffic Safety in the State Department of Public Safety has requested the bill.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 423 individual communities across the country have red light camera programs, and 144 communities use cameras to catch speeders. But some states, including Nevada, just say no.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Arkansas, New Jersey and Wisconsin prohibit all types of radar camera enforcement. And the states of Maine, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, South Carolina and West Virginia ban red-light cameras specifically.

Opponents say the cameras can actually cause more accidents as drivers try to avoid a photo ticket. In some areas, private companies actually manipulated signal-light timing to catch more people running red lights and generate revenue.

But proponents say the cameras would cut down on speeding and red-light running, both of which claim lives every year. A back-to-school police crackdown just Tuesday, for example, resulted in 91 citations for drivers who failed to yield to an officer dressed as a giant neon pencil.

All told, 307 people died on Nevada roadways in 2017. That’s actually the fewest deaths since 2014, and much lower than the 373 people who died back in 2007. But 100 of those deaths were pedestrians. The Office of Traffic Safety says its goal is only to reduce deaths and serious injuries on Nevada roads, and enforcement cameras are one way to do that.

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