Photocop bill gets red light from lawmakers

  • Blog Post by: Tim Harlow
  • February 26, 2013 - 11:44 AM

The odds are high that cameras positioned at corners to snap pictures of red light runners and subsequently send them a ticket won't be coming to an intersection near you any time soon.

The Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee on Monday defeated a measure put forth by Sen. John Pederson, R-St. Cloud, that would have allowed the devices that also are known as "Photocop."

The 9-6 vote means the bill has basically hit its own red light. In order for anything to move forward, legislation must be approved by March 15. It's unlikely that will happen, Pederson said.

The news was greeted with delight by James Walker, a longtime member of the Wisconsin-based National Motorists Association, a driver advocacy organization which support efforts to retain motorists' freedoms and rights.

"This is excellent news," Walker said. "Red light cameras are a business partnership between a camera vendor and a city that has improper traffic light engineering with yellow intervals too short for the acutal approach speed of vehicles. It is the only way they are profitable,a nd they will not be used if they are not profitable."

Minneapolis installed the cameras in 2005-06, but turned them off after the Minnesota State Supreme Court struck down their use. The court said that the photos could not prove that the vehicle's owner was actually the person driving. In its opinion, the court said that eliminated the presumption of innocence. 

But Photocop has been used in other cities and has brought in some big money. A Chicago television station reported that the Windy City took in more than $69 million from red light runnerscaught on camera in 2012

Some cities, such as Washington D.C., use the cameras to catch speeders, too. In the nation's capital, the District took in just under $26 million in January alone. That compares with $12 million in January 2012, according to an article in the Washington Examiner.

Supporters in favor of using the cameras cite studies that show that cities that use them report a sharp decline in accidents and injuries at intersections where cameras operate.

Earlier this month a bill in the Minnesota House authored by Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul died for lack of support. You can read more in articles written by Star Tribune reporter Jim Ragsdale at and

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