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Parish Council to consider adding traffic cameras

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Terrebonne Parish officials are again planning to discuss increasing the number of traffic cameras along local roads.

The Parish Council voted at the end of February to research the legality and effectiveness of red light and speed cameras. Councilman John Navy wants the topic to be discussed again at the council’s Monday committee meetings.

Navy said the consensus of the parish and law enforcement is that red light cameras, which photograph vehicles running red lights, are not necessarily the way to go because of controversy nationwide. But he said he and local police have been looking into the use of more radar trailers that will curb speeding in residential areas.

“I’m asking if we can look into next year’s budget to see if we can maybe put radar trailers in all of our districts with cameras so that we can try to control some of this speeding,” he said. “We’ve had some success with these radar trailers before.”

The trailers, which are outfitted with radar detectors that inform motorists of their speed, have cameras trained on nearby roadways.

Navy said he isn’t sure if the capabilities of these cameras will allow for speed enforcement or if the council will approve them. But he wants the capability to identify habitual speeders.

“I’m hoping that the radar trailer can definitely cut down on speeding and somehow also identify the speeder’s license plate too. Maybe if we need to give out a ticket, give them out,” he said.

Navy said council members “across the board” have had problems with speeding in residential areas within their districts.

“It’s a serious problem. We’ve actually had deaths. People have actually died when people are doing that,” he said.

Navy said his concern is that speeders represent a particular hazard for children.

Controversy over red light cameras in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish previously concerned the Parish Council.

In 2010, Jefferson Parish suspended its traffic camera program in response to a class action lawsuit filed against the parish and Arizona-based Redflex Traffic Systems. In 2013, parish officials decided to refund nearly $20 million in fines collected from residents following a corruption scandal involving Redflex and public officials in Chicago.

Executives at Redflex, the second-largest provider of traffic cameras, were accused of bribing former Chicago transportation official John Bills in 2003 so he would steer a $2 million contract to the company.

In spite of the scandal, the Illinois Supreme Court dismissed a case in November that challenged the legality of Chicago’s red light camera system.

Several states and municipalities have halted their use of cameras from Redflex and industry leader American Traffic Solutions in light of several lawsuits filed against the companies and local governments.

Lawsuits in Louisiana, Texas, Florida, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and California allege a range of charges from a lack of constitutionality to the shortening of yellow light times to increase fines.

Courtesy : Chris Leblanc

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