On August 28, 2012 section 304.289 RSMo. became law requiring the Missouri Department of Transportation to establish local government minimum yellow light intervals in accordance with nationally recognized engineering standards set forth in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. So to speak, with a stoke of the pen SB 611, sponsored by Senator Lemke, removed one of the main objections to using photo cameras to enforce laws against running red lights. The passage of this law will eliminate the argument that local government is rigging the timing of the yellow light interval in order to enhance the number of violations to generate revenues.
No doubt many who are opposed to the use of cameras to enforce laws against red light violations will continue their opposition. The political debate will now center on whether or not serious injury can be avoided and lives saved.
As a city attorney, who was involved in the enforcement of ordinances for many years, I am convinced that the safety data generated from photo camera enforcement of laws prohibiting the running of red lights supports the view that lives can be saved or serious injury can be minimized with this technology. As a former city prosecutor it was my experience that police officers were rarely in a position to ticket persons who run red lights essentially meaning that the running of a red light ordinance was not enforceable. Try telling that to a person who has lost a loved one in an accident.
Meanwhile the legal battle continues fast and furious. In two St. Louis cases the circuit court ruled against the St. Louis ordinance while in St. Louis County and in the Kansas City area the circuit courts ruled in favor of the ordinances. In the Creve Coeur case the Court of Appeals for the Eastern District of Missouri upheld the Creve Coeur photo camera red light ordinance. An earlier decision by a Federal District Court in Missouri held that there was no violation of federal law with respect to the photo red light ordinance adopted by the City of Arnold.
This Post is a follow-up to three earlier posts on my blog related to the use of photo red light cameras in Missouri to improve safety and help enforce running of red light ordinances. The posts are: Creve Coeur Photo Red Light Ordinance Upheld; Is the St. Louis Red Light Camera Ordinance Valid?; and Red Light Cameras in Missouri.
Howard Wright@ 2012