Battle heats up again over traffic cameras across Louisiana - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Battle heats up again over traffic cameras across Louisiana

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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Steve Sheffrin, like many others, knows all too well about the traffic camera at Henry Clay Avenue and Coliseum Street.

"I have gotten a ticket here once," he admitted.

But while he had to pay up to take care of his speeding violation, Sheffrin thinks ultimately, the camera is a good thing.

"This street in particular is kind of a cut-through, and you can just hear the cars going. They're going pretty fast and so - there's a lot of little kids around here," he said.

State Rep. Jeff Arnold, D-Algiers, however, has a very different point of view.

"Traffic cameras are not about policing. They're about fleecing. They're about fleecing your constituents' wallets," Arnold said during a House Transportation Committee hearing Monday.

This legislative session, Arnold is once again pushing measures that would put new limits on cameras across the state. One bill targets speed cameras on state highways. It would only allow tickets to be issued if a driver's speed is more than 10 mph over the limit. School zones would be an exception.

The other proposal would lengthen yellow caution light times by 1 second at intersections with red light cameras. Both measures narrowly passed through the committee and now head to debate by the full House.

Meanwhile, in the New Orleans metro area, local and parish governments continue taking varying stances on traffic cameras. The Jefferson Parish Council pulled the plug on its own program in unincorporated areas back in 2010.

"The biggest problem for us was the ability for an individual to have their due process in the court," said At-Large Councilman Chris Roberts.

Roberts said the effort to refund paid tickets is still tangled up with some legal issues.

"Our focus has been trying to wrap up the class-action litigation involving the red light cameras so that we can refund to the violators any of the fines that were paid that are currently being held in Escrow," he said. "Of course, there are some legal hurdles that you have to go through and certain approvals to make sure we're within the confines of state law, but that's what we're trying to accomplish and I feel confident we're going to be able to do so."

In the city, however, traffic cameras keep a constant watch at more than 65 locations - a program that is still going strong and pumping millions of dollars into the city's budget.

On Monday, a city spokesman issued this statement: "The City is committed to making our streets safer for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians, especially children. The traffic safety camera program is an effective tool that is changing driver behavior and reducing speeding in neighborhoods and school zones across the city."

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