CT House okays traffic cameras

HARTFORD — Connecticut municipalities would have the option to use automated cameras to enforce speed limit and red light violations under a traffic safety bill passed Tuesday by the House on a 104-46 vote and sent to the Senate.

House Bill 5917 is a reaction to the deaths of 239 drivers and passengers and 75 pedestrians in 2022, the deadliest year on Connecticut roadways in decades, according to the state Department of Transportation.

To win passage, sponsors of the bill shed provisions that would have required helmet use by motorcyclists and banned the consumption of alcoholic beverages by passengers in most motor vehicles.

“The series of recommendations, though modified, before you will result in improved traffic safety, improve livability for our communities and avoid the tragic fatalities in many cases that we’ve seen throughout Connecticut,” said Rep. Roland Lemar, D-New Haven.

The speed limit and red light cameras would be limited to school zones, defined pedestrian safety zones and other locations chosen by local officials and approved by the Office of State Traffic Administration. Speeders would have to be going at least 10 miles per hour over the limit to get an automated ticket.

“This is a hard choice we need to make,” said Lemar, co-chair of the Transportation Committee. “There needs to be new behavioral norms in Connecticut. What we’ve seen on our roadways, frankly, is shocking.”

Rep. Kathy Kennedy of Milford, the ranking House Republican on Transportation, said 90 people were killed on the roads in the first four-plus months of 2023.

“It’s really scary,” Kennedy said, describing accidents and reckless driving she’s witnessed on her commute to Hartford. “I don’t know that this bill will stop this. But we have to start somewhere.”

Acknowledging that the use of cameras to enforce traffic laws is controversial, Lemar said the bill includes safeguards against abuse. Camera locations would be subject to approval by local legislative bodies every three years.

Automated enforcement zones must be clearly marked, and fines would be capped at $50 for a first offense and $75 for a second offense regardless of a violator’s recorded speed. The revenue would go to municipalities and must be used for traffic-related expenses.

Violations would be handled more like a parking ticket than an infraction issued by a police officer. No points would be assessed to a driver’s license.

But opponents objected to the automation of law enforcement, the prospect of giving municipalities a profit incentive to give tickets, and the potential of discriminatory enforcement.

Despite Lemar’s protestations to the contrary, Rep. Craig Fishbein, R-Wallingford, said the bill was written to give discretion for issuing infractions. He noted that a municipal official after reviewing a recorded violation “may” issue a ticket.

“It’s discretionary whether or not that ticket is issued,” Fishbein said. “So we are opening the door to disparate treatment.”

Fishbein offered an amendment that would have struck the sections allowing enforcement by automated cameras.

“I think this is a bridge too far at this point, given the significant due process concerns,” Fishbein said.

Rep. Tom Delnicki, R-South Windsor, said Chicago has raised $1 billion over 10 years from its camera enforcement.

“That’s an amazing number,” Delnicki said.

Lemar said Chicago had a fine structure far more onerous that the limits of $50 for a first offense and $75 for a second offense in the Connecticut bill.

The Journal occasionally will offer articles from CTMirror.org, a source of nonprofit journalism and a partner with The Lakeville Journal.

Latest News

Thru hikers linked by life on the Appalachian Trail

Riley Moriarty

Provided

Of thousands who attempt to walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, only one in four make it.

The AT, completed in 1937, runs over roughly 2,200 miles, from Springer Mountain in Georgia’s Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest to Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park of Maine.

Keep ReadingShow less
17th Annual New England Clambake: a community feast for a cause

The clambake returns to SWSA's Satre Hill July 27 to support the Jane Lloyd Fund.

Provided

The 17th Annual Traditional New England Clambake, sponsored by NBT Bank and benefiting the Jane Lloyd Fund, is set for Saturday, July 27, transforming the Salisbury Winter Sports Association’s Satre Hill into a cornucopia of mouthwatering food, live music, and community spirit.

The Jane Lloyd Fund, now in its 19th year, is administered by the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and helps families battling cancer with day-to-day living expenses. Tanya Tedder, who serves on the fund’s small advisory board, was instrumental in the forming of the organization. After Jane Lloyd passed away in 2005 after an eight-year battle with cancer, the family asked Tedder to help start the foundation. “I was struggling myself with some loss,” said Tedder. “You know, you get in that spot, and you don’t know what to do with yourself. Someone once said to me, ‘Grief is just love with no place to go.’ I was absolutely thrilled to be asked and thrilled to jump into a mission that was so meaningful for the community.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Getting to know our green neighbors

Cover of "The Light Eaters" by Zoe Schlanger.

Provided

This installment of The Ungardener was to be about soil health but I will save that topic as I am compelled to tell you about a book I finished exactly three minutes before writing this sentence. It is called “The Light Eaters.” Written by Zoe Schlanger, a journalist by background, the book relays both the cutting edge of plant science and the outdated norms that surround this science. I promise that, in reading this book, you will be fascinated by what scientists are discovering about plants which extends far beyond the notions of plant communication and commerce — the wood wide web — that soaked into our consciousnesses several years ago. You might even find, as I did, some evidence for the empathetic, heart-expanding sentiment one feels in nature.

A staff writer for the Atlantic who left her full-time job to write this book, Schlanger has travelled around the world to bring us stories from scientists and researchers that evidence sophisticated plant behavior. These findings suggest a kind of plant ‘agency’ and perhaps even a consciousness; controversial notions that some in the scientific community have not been willing or able to distill into the prevailing human-centric conceptions of intelligence.

Keep ReadingShow less