Anchorage drivers weigh in on proposed red light camera ballot initiative
What can be done about red light runners in Anchorage? Vice Chairman of the Anchorage Assembly Dick Traini says it’s a question he frequently hears from constituents. That’s why he and Anchorage Assembly Chair Elvi Gray-Jackson have submitted an ordinance that would let voters decide whether to allow the municipality to use cameras to ticket drivers that run red lights.
“We don’t have enough police officers to have one at every intersection,” Traini said during the first assembly meeting of 2017. “Using technology, I think, will help us stop the amount of carnage we’re seeing with red light runners.”
KTVA spoke to several drivers who are against the idea. None of them wanted to be on camera. Some admitted their hesitation stemmed from the fact that they run red lights themselves.
Others said they aren’t against using cameras and think it could help, but have some suggestions for assembly members.
“If the yellow lights were maybe a tad bit longer? Because I know when I see a yellow light and I’m in this kind of weather I definitely have to judge immediately if I think I can make the stop or if I’m just gonna try and get through it real quick,” said Anchorage driver William Corey. “A lot of times it might be safer to go through a yellow light and try not to have an accident.”
Amanda Stromberg Prentke works at the Tesoro on West International Airport Road and Arctic Blvd. She says cameras should be implemented throughout Anchorage gradually, and include signage to alert drivers they’re being monitored.
“It needs to be thought out carefully, and gradually put in. Otherwise the drivers are just gonna freak out,” she said.
The use of red light cameras to ticket drivers without a law enforcement officer present is banned in 10 states already, and the practice is limited in 10 others, according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association,
“As a driver, having a camera out there doesn’t bother me as much as the legal implications you get into with going down a road we’ve already been down once with ticketing street lights,” said Edwin Blair, referring to the controversial “photo radar” the municipality attempted to use to catch speeders in 1996.
In 1997, Anchorage voters approved an amendment to the municipal charter which reads: “No enforcement of any vehicle violation, whether the vehicle is parked or in motion, may be performed by the Municipality of Anchorage by any persons other than a regularly sworn police officer.”
If approved, the item on the April ballot would ask voters to amend the charter again to read: “Except for the use of automated traffic-safety cameras to cite for failure to stop at a red light at signalized intersections, no enforcement of any vehicle violation, whether the vehicle is parked or in motion, may be performed by the Municipality of Anchorage by any persons other than a regularly sworn police officer.”
Traini says there’s still work to be done on the ordinance and asked that it be part of an upcoming assembly work session.
Public hearing on the issue will continue at the next regular Assembly meeting on Tuesday, January 24.
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