Thursday, January 3, 2002

Speed-limit photo enforcement signs, such as this one on the H-1 freeway in the Kalihi area, have become familiar sights.

First day of
traffic cameras
nets 927

The speeding tickets will be
mailed out to car owners Saturday

By Nelson Daranciang

The state will be mailing 927 citations to the registered owners of vehicles caught speeding by the state's new traffic enforcement cameras on the first day tickets were issued yesterday.

Four vans with the laser-triggered photo equipment are set up at various locations along 15 Oahu freeways, highways and roads selected by the state. A private vendor, Affiliated Computer Systems, operates the cameras for the state and gets a portion of the money from each ticket. The company is authorized to have as many as 12 vans and operate them at all hours, seven days a week.

The vans operated in two shifts yesterday from 7 a.m. to 12 midnight, said Marilyn Kali, state Department of Transportation spokeswoman.

Possible areas for traffic cams

These are the locations where speed enforcement cameras may be set up:

>> Farrington Highway
>> Fort Weaver Road
>> H-1 freeway
>> H-2 freeway
>> H-3 freeway
>> Kahekili Highway
>> Kalanianaole Highway
>> Kamehameha Highway, Route 83
>> Kamehameha Highway, Route 99
>> Kaneohe Bay Drive
>> Kunia Road
>> Likelike Highway
>> Moanalua Freeway
>> Nimitz Highway
>> Pali Highway

Source: Department of Transportation

The state has three days or until Saturday to put the citations in the mail. During those three days, the pictures taken by the cameras are reviewed to verify the license number, time and location of the infraction. The license number is then compared with the file of registered owners from the city Department of Motor Vehicles. The registered owner is then matched with his driver's license number. The license plate number is verified a second time before the citation is approved.

The cameras can take pictures of vehicles from either the front or the back, since motorcycles do not have a license plate on the front.

However, new cars with temporary paper license plates will not be cited because the state is not able to identify the registered owners.

"We're not going to catch everybody. If they're speeders, they're not going to speed only while they have a temporary plate," Kali said, "They'll be caught eventually."

Speeders who try to elude getting cited by removing or covering their license plates are subject to a $55 fine if caught. Police officers were reminded in November that state law requires motor vehicles to display license plates on the front and back and that they should be clearly visible. Honolulu Police Chief Lee Donohue also prohibited officers from placing covers that obscure license plate numbers when viewed from certain angles on department-owned or subsidized police vehicles.

After a month-long warning period, yesterday was the first day people caught speeding by the cameras can expect to receive a real speeding citation in the mail rather than just a warning.

Even without a single citation issued, the cameras are already proving to be a deterrence to speeding, Kali said.

"Everybody I've talked to -- police, lawmakers, reporters -- all say people have slowed down. They tell me no one goes over 35 (mph) on the Pali," Kali said.

Francis Denis of Manoa thinks that slowing the flow of traffic is a good idea and agrees that the traffic cameras should be there. "I think they're excellent -- as a deterrent, if nothing else," he said this morning.

A woman who commuted from Hawaii Kai this morning said that traffic moved below the speed limit today, even though the traffic was not particularly heavy. "This is ridiculous," she said.

Bob Hines of Diamond Head said he has mixed feelings about the cameras. "It keeps the streets safer, but they have to make sure people are treated fairly and properly," he said.

One concern Hines had was who would be ticketed if he lent his car to someone else who was caught speeding. "I'm not sure how they're going to work it," he said.

The fine for speeding is $27 plus $5 for every mile per hour over the speed limit.

Registered owners of vehicles who receive the citations in the mail can either: Pay the fine; send it back with the name, address, driver's license number and signature of the driver if it was not the registered owner; or go to court to challenge the citation.

E-mail to City Desk

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