Lawmaker wants to make traffic cameras illegal

Updated: Apr. 3, 2017 at 9:13 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The traffic enforcement cameras drivers love to hate could hit the road if one Louisiana lawmaker has his way.

Rep. Paul Hollis of Mandeville submitted a constitutional amendment that would make automated traffic enforcement cameras illegal across the state.

"It's a violation of your basic constitutional rights, and that's your right to confront your accuser. You get something in the mail assessing this kind of fine, then I believe they double it if you don't pay it. The bottom line is people in Louisiana want to rid our state of these for good," Hollis said.

It's a sentiment drivers agree with, especially if they've received tickets in the mail.

"[I got one] right up the block here. Didn't stop long enough at the light to take the right turn. It's absurd and I went back and looked at the video, it's even more absurd because I did stop," said Chris Luthringshausen, who has received two violations. "I got to tell you, I don't think any real officer would've pulled me over. I think they have more important stuff to do than to make sure I stop completely at a red light when I take rights."

The city of New Orleans argues that the cameras are a necessary safety tool, especially in school zones, where earlier this year a study recorded more than 11,000 violations in just a month.

City leaders say the program works to make New Orleans streets safer because 80 percent of drivers who get a ticket and pay, never get another violation.

"When there are people that tell you, 'Oh we don't need these cameras.' The truth is the proof is in the pudding, right? Clearly, there's a lot of people who are still speeding in places that are particularly unsafe and put our kids in harm," said Tyronne Walker, the city's communication director.

"They're cash-strapped, they're fiscally irresponsible, and what did they do? They devise what I consider a scheme that is a thinly veiled way to suggest safety, but it's got little to do with safety and everything to do with the money grab, because that's all I think the traffic cameras are," Hollis said.

In fact, according to crash data collected by LSU, in 2008, when the camera program started, there were 11,306 crashes in Orleans Parish, that's a crash rate (which is calculated by dividing the number of crashes with the number of vehicle miles traveled) of about 736. In 2016, crashes increased by nearly half, rising to 15,866 crashes in Orleans Parish, with a crash rate of 835.

It's why Hollis hopes his legislation passes, and drivers are keeping their fingers crossed that his colleagues in Baton Rouge agree.

"Shut it down, shut these cameras down, especially these police car cameras. We got to get rid of those," Luthringshausen said.

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