A Massachusetts Senate committee is set to conduct a hearing next week on the need for giving local communities the authority to install cameras atop red lights at dangerous intersections. I hate to say it, but unfortunately, the time has come to do this.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says 890 people were killed and 132,000 injured in crashes in 2017 that involved a vehicle running a red light. The group says a 2003 analysis of red light violation data from 19 intersections in four states without red-light cameras found a red light violation rate of 3.2 per hour per intersection.

I was involved in a crash on Route 6 in Seekonk some years back where a driver ran through a red light to avoid stopping. This is a real problem.

Under the proposed law, the number of red light cameras a community could install would be based upon its population. The owner of the vehicle involved in an infraction would be fined $25 since it would be impossible for the camera to determine who might be operating the vehicle at the time of the offense.

The State House News Service says several possibilities are being considered: "The camera systems could look for vehicles that fail to stop at a red light, cars traveling at least five miles an hour above the posted speed limit, vehicles making a right turn at a red light where prohibited, and cars blocking an intersection or bus lane. Drivers who put the pedal down when they see a yellow light, however, would be are safe – the bill declares that it would not be a violation if any part of the vehicle was over the stop line when the light was yellow.”

There are concerns about the potential for over-enforcement and what the state would do with the data it collects. These are valid concerns that should be addressed by the legislature.

The legislation makes sense and could help to keep our streets a bit safer. It could also raise some needed revenue for local municipalities. I say do it.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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