Bill to ban ticketing drivers using red light cameras passes Michigan Senate

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Posted at 10:23 PM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-22 23:24:48-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — On Tuesday, the Michigan Senate passed a bill that would ban the use of cameras to write people tickets for running a red light.

Senate Bill 857 reads: "Any citation issued on the basis of a recorded image produced by a photographic traffic signal enforcement system in violation of this section is void." The bill applies only to red light cameras.

While the cameras have not been used in Michigan, they are being used in more than 20 states, such as Ohio and Illinois.

"This shouldn't be happening, and we wanted to make sure this wasn't going to happen in Michigan,” said state Sen. Lana Theis of Brighton, the main sponsor of the bill. "There’s a lot of problems with that, some of which are constitutional. You have no opportunity to face your accuser, there’s an assumption of guilt and you better be able to prove yourself innocent.”

However some local groups like the Detroit Greenways Coalition argue these cameras are a tool that can protect bikers and pedestrians.

“How dangerous are red lights and intersections for pedestrians, bikers and the like?" asked 7 Action News reporter Brett Kast.

"Well that's where most the crashes occur, at intersections," coalition Executive Director Scott Todd said. "And a lot of it is red light running.”

Scott says fatalities in Southeast Michigan for pedestrians in 2020 was up 24% and up 80% for bikers, arguing there should be some exceptions to use red light and speed cameras.

"We don't see them as a magic bullet that will fix everything, we see them as a potential spot solution in areas near parks and schools,” Scott said.

The bill passed easily with bipartisan support, and support on the street is mixed.

Gloria Walker said she was in favor of using the cameras.

"Yes, because I don’t want them to hit me, I've been hit before,” Walker said. “We want to be safe and I'm old, I want to be safe.”

"No, I wouldn’t (want cameras)," another driver said. "Because how would you even know who’s driving at the time?”

While this bill only applies to red light cameras, Theis says she intends to work with the House to extend the language of the bill to all cameras, including speed cameras.

“Make the city do their job," one driver said. "Come out and give you a ticket, not a camera."

Theis says she does expect the bill to pass the House and after that, it would be sent to the governor’s desk. It’s unclear whether the governor would intend to sign or veto the legislation.