Red Light Cameras a Possibility

By: Autria Godfrey
By: Autria Godfrey

September 19, 2006

If you are in the habit of pushing your luck when the stoplight turns to yellow, you can soon be under the watchful eye of the authorities. A new proposal in the General Assembly could pave the way for cameras at area intersections.

It's congested intersections on busy highways like 29 N that both legislators and members of highway safety committees have in mind when deciding to install video cameras at red lights.

"When you approach the intersection, you see the box but what you don't know is if there's a camera in that box or not, so the box in and of itself becomes a deterrent whether or not it has a camera in it," Wayne Huggins of Virginia State Police said.

Playing that guessing game may be quickly changing. Tuesday both legislators and representatives from several highway safety committees met in Ruckersville to discuss actually placing cameras at highly congested red lights.

Senator John Watkins is pushing for a bill that would allow individual towns and cities across the commonwealth the right to put cameras in place.

"What that does also, is it gives the local people--the people most affected by it--more say in it," Watkins said.

However, with increased surveillance comes increased privacy concerns, an issue Senator Watkins dismisses.

"We invade each other's privacy every time we have an accident," he continued.

Wendy Sacra, hit by a drunk driver seven years ago, supports any attempt to regulate roadways.

"I think it'd be a good'd end up stopping a lot of accidents I believe, those crazy drivers that are out there," Sacra said.

Even with more police intervention, some residents feel there's just no slowing the speeders.

"I don't think it's a guarantee, because there's too many [people] out there doing it," Greene County resident Dwayne Moore said.

"I think it would make some difference for some people and then some people just don't [care]," Mike Breeden of Ruckersville added.

Authorities say cameras have been used along roadways for years to catch people avoiding toll fees and for video recognition of those listed on the 50 Most Wanted List. With this new bill, the concern of tickets being sent to someone whose car was stolen or borrowed by someone else would receive special consideration so that the law remain fair.

Since the bill has to go through Virginia's General Assembly, these changes would be somewhere in the distant future.

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