JEFFERSON CITY, MO - The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission on Jan. 12 adopted a policy aimed at ensuring cameras used to ticket red-light runners are used fairly. After reports of inconsistencies, the Missouri Department of Transportation in October suspended the installation of any new cameras while it reviewed how they were being used.
"The policy provides better guidance on how the cameras can be used and more oversight to make sure the cameras are used to increase safety and prevent injuries and death," said MoDOT Director Kevin Keith. "It was developed with input from law enforcement agencies, cities, counties and vendors."
The new policy, which takes effect immediately, includes conditions for installation and calls for greater oversight:
- Only a certified law enforcement officer can determine violations
- Before they can issue citations, local entities must conduct a public awareness campaign
- Signs must be posted in advance noting cameras are monitoring the intersection
- Cities and counties must submit an annual report providing safety and citation data.
The policy also addresses cameras used to catch speeders. Under the guidelines, automated speed enforcement cameras can only be used on state highways in school, work and "travel safe" zones. A "travel safe" zone is a designated area where extra precaution is necessary due to the stretch of highway experiencing a higher number of crashes than similar highways. The more stringent oversight rules that apply to the red-light cameras are also in effect for the speed-enforcement cameras.
MoDOT said it will work with local municipalities that have existing cameras to bring them into compliance.
"We believe automated enforcement is a good tool for keeping motorists safe," Keith said.
MoDOT traffic studies show there is a 45-percent reduction in right angle crashes causing fatalities and serious injuries at intersections using red-light cameras. However, there is a slight --14 percent -- increase in collisions causing no injuries or only minor injuries. Research also shows fewer people run red lights at both monitored and non-monitored intersections in areas with cameras.
MoDOT receives none of the revenue generated from red-light and automated speed enforcement violations. In addition, the department does not own or operate the cameras and has no part in deciding which company is chosen to install the automated enforcement. This is entirely up to the local jurisdictions.