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Lawmakers approve funds needed for red light enforcement camera program to move ahead

Updated: Apr. 25, 2021 at 5:12 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A legislative conference committee has approved an additional $2 million for a program aimed at catching motorists who run red lights at intersections.

The program had been stalled by the pandemic and a lack of funding.

State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Shelly Kunishige said the effort is about making the roads safer — not issuing more tickets.

The DOT is choosing from 14 intersections, all in the downtown area, for the two-year pilot program to install red light enforcement cameras. It’s something several other cities have done.

“What was generally found was that they reduced side-angle crashes, which can be an especially dangerous type of crash,” Kunishige said.

Warning signs will be posted at intersections with cameras.

The cameras will take a photo of the rear license plate of a vehicle that enters the intersection after the light turns red. A citation is then be mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle.

The state said it won’t be like a previous photo enforcement program in 2002.

“Hawaii did have an experiment with van cams, which went terribly several decades ago, and this is totally different than that,” said state Senate Transportation Committee Chair Chris Lee. He said unlike the unpopular van cams, the selected vendor won’t be paid more for higher numbers of citations.

“So there’s no financial incentive whatsoever. It’s rather how you capture people who knowingly run red lights and provide a penalty to those so we have a safer traffic situation overall,” he said.

“This isn’t about making money,” added Lori McCarney, executive director of the Hawaii Bicycling League, which strongly supported the red light cam program.

“This is about having people think about going to intersections and stopping instead of speeding up.”

The DOT plans to hold public hearings on proposed administrative rules by June, and could have the cameras up and running by the end of summer.

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