Mississippi Bans Red Light Cameras

Published June 1, 2009

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) has signed a bill banning the use of automated cameras that take pictures of drivers who run red lights.

All red light cameras must be removed from the state’s streets by October 1. The move has been hailed as a victory for civil liberty and privacy.

‘Unfair Intrusion’
“I’ve never liked red light cameras,” said Bruce Abramson, an intellectual property expert and president of California-based Informationism, Inc. “I think it’s an affront to civil liberties. If someone needs to prove I did something wrong, let them pull me over.

“In the scheme of things, I think the cameras are an unfair intrusion into privacy,” Abramson added.

Camera Fans Remain
Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation in Washington, DC, thinks red light cameras are a good idea. He points to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety stating about 200,000 people have been killed by red light runners in the past decade.

“A major reason drivers run red lights is because they rightly judge that their risks of getting caught are low,” said Atkinson, “When the risk is higher, drivers respond.”

Abusing the Technology
While some civil libertarians note many municipalities abuse the use of red light cameras, short-timing the yellow to nab people running red lights and thereby increase revenue, Atkinson says the technology is not to blame.

“If this is the problem, the answer is to ban the behavior by government, rather than the technology,” Atkinson said.

Aricka Flowers ([email protected]) writes from Chicago.