Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill which authorizes the installation of red light cameras throughout the city of Pittsburgh. The bill, which was passed by the Pennsylvania Senate last week, is what is known as "enabling legislation," meaning that Pittsburgh officials are not required to install the cameras, but they have the ability to do so if they choose.
The bill was modeled after a similar law which gave Philadelphia officials the power to install red light cameras throughout that city. Since the cameras were installed in 2005, there has reportedly been a significant decline in car accidents at busy, crash-prone intersections throughout the city. In addition, the cameras have raised a large amount of money for traffic safety projects in Philadelphia and throughout the state.
However, it is that money-making aspect that has angered critics of red light cameras. When a driver runs a red light, the camera takes a photo of the vehicle's license plate and mails a ticket to the owner of the vehicle, regardless of whether he or she was the person driving when the alleged offense occurred. With fine amounts of up to $100, critics say that installing cameras in Pittsburgh will just be another way to bilk money from citizens. Lawmakers claim, however, that safety is their main concern and the primary motivation for the legislation.
The bill will take effect in about three months. However, if Pittsburgh officials decide to have the cameras installed, they will have to seek and receive approval from PennDOT for the specific intersections at which they want cameras.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Pa. bill allowing red-light cameras in Pittsburgh passes," Tom Barnes, July 2, 2012