Running Red Lights with Big Brother
For some time, the Missouri Department of Transportation has used cameras to make sure traffic flows smoothly at some intersections, rather than rely on vehicles triggering stoplights.
"Those cameras just replaced the traditional wire-cutting methods that were used in the pavement," said MoDOT's Julie Stotlemeyer.
But, the St. Louis suburb of Arnold began using cameras to catch people breaking traffic laws.
Sen. Jason Crowell of Cape Girardeau wants to ban traffic cameras unless officials change how they use them. He says using outside companies to photograph traffic violators and issue tickets leads cities to focus on profits, not safety.
Columbia is thinking of installing such cameras.
"I think for the city of Columbia, though, we want to look at safety," said John Glascock of the Department of Public Works. "We wouldn't do it for revenue purposes. But are they effective at reducing accidents and saving people's lives?"
Sen. Crowell said there are no guidelines for the cameras' use. But, if the legislature addresses his concerns in the next session, he believes they can be used at intersections to catch lawbreakers.