Smile for your ticket

2011-01-24T00:00:00Z Smile for your ticketBy Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
January 24, 2011 12:00 am  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | Indiana motorists driving even 1 mph over the speed limit in a school or construction zone could have their picture taken and receive a $300 ticket in the mail under legislation co-sponsored by a Northwest Indiana representative.

Separate legislation in the Indiana Senate would allow cities and towns to use cameras to catch red light violators.

State Rep. Shelli VanDenburgh, D-Crown Point, said the purpose of House Bill 1199 isn't to make money for the state, but to make the roads around schools and work zones safer.

"We need to be able to do something to slow people down and make them more aware that you have more pedestrians or people working on those roads," VanDenburgh said.

Indiana had nine fatalities in construction zones and 10 pedestrian children were killed in 2009, according to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. But those totals include all deaths, not just construction worker or school zone deaths.

VanDenburgh's legislation calls for signs to be posted before drivers enter a school or work zone letting motorists know an automated enforcement system is in place. The system will use a radar or laser speed measuring device in conjunction with a camera to take photographs of a speeding driver, vehicle and license plate.

Tickets will be mailed to the owner of the vehicle.

"Hopefully people will just slow down," VanDenburgh said.

The cost to install a fixed camera enforcement system is approximately $100,000 per site, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, chairman of the House Roads and Transportation Committee, said he hasn't decided whether to hear the speed camera legislation in committee. Soliday said he's concerned the automated system will ticket drivers 24 hours a day even though the proposal limits use of the system to school hours and times when actual construction work is happening.

If there is no committee action, the legislation is all but dead.

A committee hearing also has yet to be scheduled for Senate Bill 527, which allows municipalities to contract with private companies to operate red light enforcement cameras.

Unlike the speed camera proposal, red light runners would not be ticketed with a moving violation, but would receive an ordinance violation fine of between $125 and $150.

Revenue from red light fines would first go toward paying the private operator; in other states this payment has consumed more than half the fine. The remainder of the revenue would be split, with the city or town receiving 70 percent and the state, 30 percent.

An analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency projects Indiana could lose up to $5 million a year using red light cameras. The state currently receives 100 percent of moving violation fines, which cost up to $500 per violation. Under this proposal, Indiana would get less than a third of what's left after a private operator takes its cut of a reduced total fine.

VanDenburgh said she doesn't support red light cameras based on Illinois' experience with the devices.

A 2010 University of Illinois at Chicago study found that crashes, especially rear-end crashes, increased at red light camera intersections between 2001 and 2008.

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About Crown Point



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Crown Point, Ind. 46307
(219) 662-3240

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Crown Point, Ind. 46307
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Fire Department
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