Lawmakers debate
new version of ‘van cams’

Cameras would be placed
at intersections to catch
speeders or red-light runners

State lawmakers are debating a proposal to allow the counties to use traffic enforcement cameras to catch speeders and red-light runners -- similar to the debate two years ago over the controversial "van cams."

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Rep. Kika Bukoski said he plans to lobby Gov. Linda Lingle to veto Senate Bill 2344, SD1, HD1, passed yesterday by the House Transportation Committee, if it wins approval from the Legislature. It authorizes the counties to use fixed cameras at intersections to catch red-light runners and along state and county roadways to catch speeders.

In 2002 the Legislature repealed a law that authorized state transportation officials to use the traffic enforcement cameras in roving vans, or so-called van cams.

Angry drivers protested the state's use of the vans, and lawmakers accused the state of seeking more revenue for operating the program. Court rulings also rendered the tickets issued through the van cams unenforceable.

House Transportation Chairman Joe Souki (D, Waihee-Wailuku) introduced the latest bill at the urging of City Councilman Nestor Garcia.

"As we have seen in recent months, the consequences of street racing and excessive speeding have resulted in the loss of innocent lives and terrible destruction," Garcia testified.

Windward Oahu drivers were among the most vocal opponents of the van cam program because they were getting most of the tickets issued.

Windward Rep. Ken Ito (D, Heeia-Kaneohe) said he supports the new proposal because speeding is going unchecked.

"In the rain, I seen guys going about 70 mph going up the Pali Highway. And I was scared. It was windy and rainy," he said.

Bukoski (R, Pukalani-Ulupalakua) said there are other ways to combat speeding and red-light running -- "and I think the impetus here is totally financial. It's totally money," he said.

The bill would give the counties the revenues from the tickets they issue.


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