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Legislation Expands Use of Traffic Ticket Cameras

AP Photo/Mel Evans, File

Red-light cameras have allowed private businesses to issue tickets to drivers and pocket some of the money.

Now, lawmakers are extending that kind of technology to school zones and work zones.

It’s a bit of mail nobody wants to receive: a ticket for violating traffic laws caught by an automated camera. That’s been going on for years in some parts of Virginia with red-light cameras.

Now members of the General Assembly signed off on an effort to extend that technology to school zones and work zones.

Democratic Senator Joe Morrissey of Richmond says he worries about private companies raking in money at the public expense.  “So now they went out and they found out what else can we capture people on, and it’s the work zones and the school zones. Here’s what’s next," Morrissey predicts. "They’re going to find out what else can we capture people doing? How about jaywalking. Set up a camera, capture you jaywalking and then issue you a ticket.”

Republican Senator Siobhan Dunnavant says automated tickets will make school zones and work zones safer.   “I too was opposed to the bill when I first looked at it. But I have had so many law enforcement officers call me from the sheriff’s department to the local police. This is a huge safety issue for them,” Dunnavant says.

The bill has been approved by the House and the Senate, and it’s now on its way to the governor’s desk.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.
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