Bills are aimed at drivers who run red lights


POSTED: Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Question: I have it stuck in my mind, presumably from getting my driver's license years ago, that drivers are OK as long as they have entered the intersection on a yellow light. But I read a story in another publication that said the state Legislature is advancing a red-light camera bill that would cite drivers if they are midintersection when the light turns red. Are they changing the law about what it means to run a red light, or do I have the existing law wrong?

Answer: Neither.

Two proposals now pending before the Legislature—House Bill 145 and Senate Bill 988—are aimed at catching motorists who go into an intersection AFTER the light has turned red.

Motorists are allowed to proceed on a yellow light, said Michelle Yu, spokeswoman for the Honolulu Police Department.

Section 291C-32(a)(2) of the Hawaii Revised Statutes deals with yellow lights, or “;steady yellow indication.”;

For motorists a yellow signal is a warning “;that the related green movement is being terminated or that a red indication will be exhibited immediately thereafter when vehicular traffic shall not enter the intersection.”;

Both the Senate bill (introduced by the Lingle administration) and House bill propose to establish a “;photo red light imaging detector system program,”; although there are differences in specifics.

They both cite Section 291C-32(a)(3) of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, which deals with the situation when a traffic light gives a “;steady red indication.”;

In that case: “;Vehicular traffic facing a steady red signal alone shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection and shall remain standing until an indication to proceed is shown,”; with some exceptions.

The exceptions include making right turns, unless specifically prohibited by signs, or left turns from one one-way street to another one-way street, again, unless prohibited by signs.

Lawmakers can look to many jurisdictions, worldwide, to find out the pros and cons of using cameras to catch red-light scofflaws.

It recently was reported that more than 100 people in Italy were accused of fraud in rigging a traffic camera system so that the light would change from yellow to red in three seconds instead of the usual five or six.

That resulted in a lot of lira for the crooks: Cited drivers paid $170 million in fines.

Meanwhile, we found a Web site that shows where red-light cameras are located nationwide. That site also advertises a GPS camera detector so motorists can be warned when they are approaching an intersection equipped with a camera.



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